October 17. 2012
The next time a Nicholas Sparks movie hits the silver screen, expect it to be frosty.
That’s because Safe Haven, the author’s chilling love story, is set to hit theaters the week before Valentine’s Day.
“Usually, Nicholas Sparks movies tend to be strictly romance novels-slash-movies,” says Julianne Hough, who stars as Katie Feldman, a secretive woman on the run who lands in the sleepy town of Southport, N.C. “What’s fun about Safe Haven is it’s got a thriller aspect to it.”
“That’s what I really liked about it,” says Josh Duhamel, who plays a widower with two young children who slowly charms Hough out of hiding. “It was different and it had a feel of Sleeping with the Enemy, which I thought was different than anything that Nicholas Sparks had done.”
Trying to escape her past, Katie is “extremely guarded and definitely nervous about opening up to anyone in the town,” says Hough. “Meanwhile, there is somebody after her, and you don’t know why. She’s got a dark secret.”
The role is a big change for Hough, who moves away from singing and dancing after films like Footloose and this summer’s ’80s camp-fest Rock of Ages.
Directed by Lasse Hallström (Dear John, The Cider House Rules), Safe Haven, out Feb. 8, 2013 “was really just being as real as possible and not being campy and over the top,” says Hough. “That is the biggest difference for me, I got to kind of sink my feet into the ground a little bit more.”
“She’s a star, that girl,” says Duhamel. He got Sparks’ blessing to “dig in” to the character of Alex Wheatley, and his take – much like Ryan Gosling’s creative rendering of Noah in 2004’s The Notebook, “is not exactly written as it was in the books.”
For Hough, starring in Safe Haven brings her full circle. “When I was living in London when I was 13, A Walk to Remember was the first book of his that I read – I read it probably 10 times,” she says. And when the movie came out I watched it I don’t know how many times, I loved that movie so much.”
But, she acknowledges the pressure of turning a fan favorite (Safe Haven reached No. 1 on USA TODAY’s best-selling books chart) into a film. “All you can do is your very best that you can do and make it your own.”