This past weekend, I had the chance to catch up with the Britt Robertson (Sophia), Scott Eastwood (Luke), Alan Alda (Ira), Oona Chaplin (Young Ruth), George Tillman, Jr. (director), and Nicholas Sparks (author) in New York City to talk about the making of the The Longest Ride and talk story and characters.
When asked about working on not only a romance, but a story by Sparks, director George Tillman, Jr. said, “I remember The Notebook. I remember Message in a Bottle. But I started watching the other films and I just felt like I needed to stay away from them because I just felt like we really wanted to bring something new. In this genre, there’s a lot of cliches, and we wanted to stay with some of them. Some of the cliches are unavoidable, for example, they are always kissing when it’s raining, so we really tried to not go into what you expect in the genre but we had to respect the audience that they like to see that same things.”
It wasn’t the romance that won him over, though having been with his high school sweetheart for the past twenty-five years, he definitely felt a part of the story. He was captivated by the bull riding scenes because of the ability to discover over cultures. It was that which won him over and made him want to direct.
If you’ve read The Longest Ride or even seen any previous Nicholas Sparks film, you know that there is always a strong sense of character development. It oozes with deep characters with touching stories and flaws. One of the strongest relationships that takes place in the film is between Sophia (Britt Robertson) and Ira (Alan Alda). About the relationship, Alan said, “I think that her generosity has an affect on me. She pushes him a little bit to let somebody into his life, who is so angry that his wife is gone. He’s just kind of angry at everybody and I think it’s not characteristic of him but a temporary condition brought on by his loss. Her generosity, getting him to let her read the letters, brings him back to life a little bit. And he feels affection toward her which helps him pay attention to things he’s learned in his life.”
On the relationship with Ira, Britt says, “I just love that relationship of Ira and Sophia. It’s really well written and there’s something so special about it that you don’t see very often and to explore that and have him touch her in this way that inspires her to love and work harder in life, I think that’s a really powerful thing to be open to people who’ve had more life experience.”
When asked about her character, Oona Chaplin expressed initial concerns. “My fear of the movie was that it would be like every other movie of the genre. It was convinced only after I spoke with George and he told me what he wanted from the character and from the story. After hearing about the love of [George’s] life, that was what really inspired me and it’s mainly because Ruth has come from a place of destruction, torture, and horror escaping the most baffling inhumanity that was Europe at that time, especially for Jewish families. She ends up in this place and instead of turning all of that darkness and falling into the easy trap of hate and revenge and bitterness, she turns that into light and love and all she wants to do is create something beautiful out of it and put herself in that beauty to create it and appreciate it. That’s why she’s so capable of love and I think that’s a really important thing to draw from Ruth. There’s so much weird and stupid things going on in the world today. If that story can be told and you can be inspired to love and to grow, that’s really beautiful.”
The Longest Ride hits theaters everywhere on April 10th.