Last 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 even get a glimpse behind the scenes of filming.
When asked about directing what is basically two different stories, George said, “As a director, I think when you have two different stories, being that one of the stories takes place in the 1940s and World War 2 and the relationship they had while trying to bear a child, that just kind of visually gives you a whole different look from the modern story. I thought that was interesting. When we all got together, we all said ‘How can we try to make a Nicholas Sparks’ film feel different from the other films that have been made? How can we put our own spin on it?’ And we came to the conclusion that it was about being as natural and simplistic and complex as we can. It always felt like it was three stories to me because of the Ira and Sophia story and I really needed that story to bridge between the other two stories so, as a filmmaker, it made it very challenging when to get in and get out of the story, but it made it very interesting and exciting to really take a genre to another level, at least try to take it to another level.
“Seeing it all come together, I was just so happy,” Oona stated. “It worked and it’s a nice feeling when you are a part of the process and you grow to care about it and everyone involved in it. It was beautiful.”
When asked about his experience with The Longest Ride compared to working on his other films, Nicholas said, “I have my own philosophy because I do so many things. Whether writing or Broadway or television, I try to work with good people. If I trust them to do their job, I try not to do their job. We hired George for a reason. I’m not going to tell [Britt and Scott] how to act because I don’t know how to act. It’s better for me to stand back. I do so much work on the front end whether it’s script or casting or talking about budgets or music or debating philosophies, everything we’re trying to accomplish. There are producers on set who are there more than I am and they do the day-to-day but at that point, the film is really in the hands of the director and talents hands. You just let good people do their work. That’s kind of my motto.”
Nicholas recalled his favorite scenes saying, “The bull riding scenes came out amazing. The hard part was that most animals you ever see in Hollywood are tame and trained. These are bulls that when they come out of the pen, you don’t know where they are going so it’s difficult to get the exact shot that you need. And how do you do it to make it look like Scott is on the bull the entire time?” Movie magic, that’s how.
On watching the footage shot each day, Nicholas said he doesn’t like watching everything but likes to see how much emotion is being shown in thinking about the final edit. “You want some scenes to be heavier in emotion and some to be softer. What you might find is that when you cut the movie, you have scenes that are intense, intense, intense, and it’s too much. You have to have all of those pieces there, so as a producer, I’m trying to watch for those things to make sure that by the end, we have everything to put together in a way that will work.”
Britt told of one hilarious story from filming: “There was one scene where I fall into a mud pit and at the very end of the scene, it was raining out, and I just wanted to be in the mud so I went and just swam around and enjoyed the mud. Even a couple of the camera guys came in and swam with me.” Scott reminded her, “You also had that one point where you fell on the rainy day…” “I fell so many times because I’m actually not wearing shoes in one scene,” Britt said. “I was just slipping and sliding. It was a total mess. There’s plenty of footage of that, I’m sure.”
When asked if this was a movie they would see if they weren’t in it, Scott said, “Totally. I was actually a big fan of The Notebook and I have to walk away because I know I’m going to cry. This one was really cool.”
From the fantastic cast and team behind the film, you can see how awesome they are and how creative the team is. Be sure to go see The Longest Ride when it hits theaters everywhere on April 10th.