Get out the tissues. Nicholas Sparks' new movie, The Best Of Me, comes out Friday, and it's a signature story about first love and second chances.
Amanda and Dawson are high school sweethearts who are reunited, after being apart for 20 years. Michelle Monaghan and James Marsden play the older couple, with Liana Liberato and Luke Bracey portraying them as teens.
I got to catch up with the young 'uns last week, and here's what they had to say about their experience.
Was it weird playing the younger version of someone?
Luke Bracey: I think we were actually quite lucky because Liana and I filmed a lot of our scenes before James and Michelle did.
Liana Liberato: Yeah, so they had to base their performances off ours.
LB: James and I did sit down and talk about where Dawson goes during that 20 years that they're apart. I mean, he's a very different person then.
LL: Michelle and I talked about little mannerisms that we wanted to incorporate into the character. There are things you carry with you as you grow up, and we definitely wanted those. Originally, I was going to play with my ear but that didn't work out. I ended up playing with my necklace the entire movie. We were always texting, so I could give her information on how Amanda was evolving throughout filming.
When we talked at the set visit, you were excited about your kiss on the roof in the rain. You said it was a signature Nicholas Sparks scene. Did it turn out the way you were hoping?
LB: Yes but before we had finished the scene, a real thunderstorm rolled in and we had to get off the roof kind of quick. We were sitting on the roof and they said, "Okay, rain on." And the rain started coming out of the sprinklers. Then I saw a huge crack of lightning and I asked, "Hey, is there lightning in this scene?" And they said, "No." Well, uh, boom, thunder! A big storm was coming through, and it actually got pretty heavy after that. So we ended up finishing the scene on the last day of shooting which, for us, was a great luxury since sometimes your last scene is you getting out of a car - which is not a real rewarding way to end something.
LL: We finished with an epic kiss.
LB: Yes, epic kiss in the rain. You like to really put the full stop on filming a Nicholas Sparks movie. It was a really nice place to finish.
The young Dawson and Amanda set up the whole story. How does it feel to be the represention of first love for millions of moviegoers?
LL: That's a responsibility we kept in mind throughout filming. We knew that if our storyline didn't work, no one would care what would happen to our characters when they got older. So our goal was to make sure audiences fall in love with our love. We wanted to put as much passion and electricity and fun into the scenes we had.
LB: Innocence, as well, you know. That's what first love is. It's so untainted. There's nothing else besides that person in front of you. You can have your parents, your family, your friends telling you that person is no good for you but you won't listen at all. It's such a pure and honest and beautiful thing, first love.
LL: It was a huge privilege, too. I've watched those Nicholas Sparks movies and was like, "Gosh, I want to be that girl." And I am!
LB: There's also that kind of hyper-reality involved in this kind of romance. I mean, that's one of the fun things about making these movies. You don't really get to rap on a window in the pouring rain and profess you love in a thunderstorm, you know.
LL: You could ...
LB: Yes, you could. That's the thing. Maybe people walk home from the cinema with their love and maybe it does start raining and they have a kiss in the rain.
Your scenes take place in 1992 before technology took over. If the story took place today, how do you think it would be different?
LL: There's no way in this day and age that Dawson would go to the window. He'd be like, "Babe, it's really cold out and .."
LB: "I just got my iPhone 6 and there's no way I'm getting it wet."
Amanda and Dawson's song is the Cowboy Junkies' "Sweet Jane," a song which came out before you were born, Liana! What song would you pick today?
LL: The song I'm really into now is actually kind of a sad song but I think it's really beautiful. It's "True Love" by Coldplay.
LB: There's been one album I've been listening to all year - the Arctic Monkeys. The last song on the album is "I Want to Be Yours." It's a really nice song.
This seems like an exceptionally down to earth cast and you all seem to get along so well.
LB: You can make movies and not particularly get along with the people you're working with but, when they say "Action," your job is to make it look like you're in love. It's such a pleasure when you can go to work and say, "Good morning, doll," and have a laugh.
LL: You have to be comfortable with that person and understand that sometimes the stuff isn't graceful. You're going to almost fall off the slippery roof and bang teeth and elbow each other in the face.
LB: You definitely need to be able to laugh about it together.