The big-screen adaptation of the 2011 Nicholas Sparks novel The Best of Me has switched hands from Warner Bros. to Relativity, the studio that ushered Safe Haven and Dear John into theaters, Deadline reports. While I have seen every Nicholas Sparks movie, I don’t actually read the books. Therefore, to help cast the film – i.e. the people who will inevitably be touching each other’s faces on the movie poster – I reached out to my mother, who’s read the entire Sparks canon and is currently bored awaiting release from the hospital. (She’s swooning over her doctor – she’s fine).
The story, if you are unaware, revolves around Dawson and Amanda, former high school sweethearts from opposite sides of the tracks who return to Oriental, North Carolina 25 years later to attend the funeral of Tuck, a man who supported their young, star-crossed love. Per the synopsis on Sparks’ site: “As Amanda and Dawson carry out the instructions Tuck left behind for them, they realize that everything they thought they knew – about Tuck, about themselves, and about the dreams they held dear – was not as it seemed. Forced to confront painful memories, the two former lovers will discover undeniable truths about the choices they have made. And in the course of a single, searing weekend, they will ask of the living, and the dead: Can love truly rewrite the past?”
My mother remembers the sob-inducing twist at the end, which I won’t spoil for you, but not much else. The characters would be in their early forties in the present day. Dawson splits his time between oil rigs and a single-wide trailer on the outskirts of New Orleans. Amanda, whose family was wealthy, is a mild-mannered mother with an alcoholic husband. My mother’s casting pick for Dawson: ”I would say Matt Damon. He’s kind of built good, isn’t he?” Her pick for Amanda: “The only one I can think of is Reese Witherspoon. Oh, someone just had a baby. There go the bells playing a lullaby [hums].”
Upon further consideration, my mother decided against Witherspoon – who’s about six years younger than Damon, anyway – and really threw her weight behind Michelle Williams. “I think she would be the temperament – a deeply sincere, concerned, caring person,” she said. Of course, now we’re talking about a 10-year age difference, which I wouldn’t allow if we’re supposed to believe they were in the same grade. Plan B: ”I’d go with Jennifer Garner – if I can’t have Michelle Williams,” she said. That’s better. And technically, not a bad idea for Garner, though I don’t think she’ll ever get Damon, even if Diane Lane and Richard Gere did do 2008’s Nights in Rodanthe.
Again, having not read the book, I’d back Garner and… Hell on Wheels’ Anson Mount? He could definitely handle the ruggedness if he could tolerate the sap. Your turn.