I had the pleasure of visiting New Orleans to spend a day on the set of Nicholas Spark's new film, The Best of Me, earlier this year as part of a press event courtesy of Relativity Media. Romance isn't my first choice in reading material, but even I have to tip my hat to Nicholas Sparks; he definitely has a way of bringing us stories that are emotional and inspirational without being over-the-top sappy. Nicholas Spark's The Best of Me is a home run as a compelling tale of young love, loss and second chances.
The Best of Me tells the story of Dawson, a troubled but good-natured boy from an unsavory family who finds the strength to leave home and catches the eye of Amanda, the popular girl from a well-off family. Set in your typical Southern small town, they are essentially star-crossed lovers from the opposite sides of the tracks.
I read The Best of Me on the flight over to New Orleans the day before I visited the set so that the story would be fresh in my mind as I met the actors and watched the filming of scenes. While I did interview the cast of The Best of Me, along with author Nicholas Sparks, I will be sharing those stories separately, so stay tuned in the next few days as I share those experiences and what each person had to say about the film, life and love.
I think we can all relate to the young love presented in the opening scenes of The Best of Me. Amanda's family doesn't approve of Dawson and they eventually break up. Dawson is involved in a tragedy and leaves town, and they both proceed to live their lives without ever speaking again.
How many of us can look back to our high school days and remember a similar tale? Young love is the sweetest, purest love, but it is often subject to forces out of our control: our parents. While their breakup wasn't anything that we haven't seen before, it's what happens in the forthcoming years that makes The Best of Me a story worth telling and a movie worth watching. I have a feeling that The Best of Me is going to blow up at the box office next month!
As the story progresses, we find that Dawson moves to New Orleans and works on an oil rig. When he is not working, he lives a very solitary life. It's obvious that he has carried his love for Amanda with him through his entire life, and along with a tragic occurrence that he caused in his youth, it has held him back...from everything. I found myself rooting for Dawson before the story even really began, and I think that you will too once you see the film!
Dawson and Amanda are reunited in their hometown after the death of Dawson's mentor. We find that Amanda is in a rough patch in her life, and it's obvious that she isn't happy.
The two come together again and old emotions stir...and that is where we find that the forces that forced them apart as teenagers haven't lost their strength...I don't want to ruin the movie for you with any spoilers, so let's just say that while Dawson and Amanda are presented with a second chance, this love story isn't without its struggles and danger.
The Best of Me is an epic love story captures the enduring power of our first true love, and the wrenching choices we face when confronted with elusive second chances. The Best of Me stars James Marsden, Michelle Monaghan, Luke Bracey and Liana Liberato, check back in a few days as I share my interviews with the cast!
A Day on the Set of The Best of Me
Do you ever have moments in your life where you actually pinch yourself to make sure that you aren't dreaming? Sitting on the lawn watching The Best of Me being filmed was one of those days for me.
We arrived at the secret location of The Best of Me movie set and were ushered around to the back of the home where filming was taking place. It was startling to actually see the actors and film crew filming a scene as we walked past. I had one of those "Is this really my life?!" moments!
The Best of Me scene we watched was filmed at an old plantation home, and it was the perfect setting for a love story. Old New Orleans-style home, Spanish moss hanging from the trees...
The plantation home in question has been in the current owner's family since 1876, and has been used on a ton of movie sets.
There was one point in The Best of Me book where Dawson tells Amanda that his current home of New Orleans reminds him a lot of North Carolina, where the majority of the book takes place. My dad is from Western North Carolina and I saw a similarity as soon as I arrived on set - these are the same types of homes, the same type of foliage, the same kind of landscapes that I am all too familiar with when I visit my family!
Lady Antebellum introduces "I Did With You" - featured on The Best of Me soundtrack
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Stay tuned for my next The Best of Me post, where I share our experience interviewing Nicholas Sparks!