It was a hot August day when we boarded a bus to head to the set of The Longest Ride in North Carolina. Me – being from California – I am not used to the humidity or the mosquitoes. But I was willing to overlook it all because it meant being close to Scott Eastwood – who is like really hot.
It was a good time – there is something about North Carolina that is so beautiful and calming. We loved it!
Talking to Scott Eastwood and Britt Robertson, as well as the director, George Tillman – here’s what we learned.
Scott, on the his first thoughts when reading the book: It was nice, I really responded to the character in the book, he was a man of few words and he was a no bullshit kind of guy and I liked that.”
The director, George Tillman, on the chemistry between Scott and Britt: The most important thing is that the audience has to want it, and like these guys together and I think that was the most important thing. Two things that you have to think about, you got the prior Nicholas Sparks films then you got the new version. How do you take this new version and do more with it? You have to find actors who the audience can relate to and say ‘that’s me on film’ but at the same you have to give them a fresh look and fresh face. The main thing was to find two individuals; Blue Collins, especially who has the physicality to do the bull riding and the physicality to work on a farm but to also have the charm. Also with Sophia, you have to have somebody who you believe is from Jersey but at the same time who has a lot of complexities. She’s a very complex character, coming from New Jersey, being singular; goal oriented but at the same time be very likeable and very lovable. We all got goals, so you need to find two people who have all those chemistries, all in one. Then you have to put them together, so as soon as I saw them individually, I was thinking about it and dreaming about them together. When I finally put them together they were completely different because he’s from San Diego, she’s from South Carolina. We finally did the chemistry and it was magic. The great thing about it is, with Elizabeth we made the same calls as the same time, it worked out.
The director, George Tillman, on the scenes Scott and Britt tested with: It was funny, we did a scene today outside the barn when Sophia finds out a secret and that Blue Collins has been keeping. The audience doesn’t know that secret and that was one of the toughest scenes to audition because you can’t go too one way or another. As I director I like to give the toughest scenes earlier on, it’s good for me as a director because I can explore and learn something. What makes a director is that you can learn from your actors and I was learning very early through the chemistry test and through each other’s interpretations of the scenes, what works and what doesn’t. The scene we did this morning was the first scene they each individually read, which is the secret. Finally after forty-three days, we finally got to it and that was the scene they auditioned for.
Britt Robertson, on the best dating advice and blind dating: Be yourself. Just kidding, the best and worst, I don’t know. I think I had a blind date once and that was horrible, it was the worst experience, I’ll never do it again. Right before the blind date, the girl who set me up was giving me all these notes and tid bits to talk about and blah blah blah. It was so stupid by the way because if you’re going to be fall in love with somebody, especially by a blind date, you want it to be organic and you want to actually feel something as opposed to being forced into the situation. I think, it’s the opposite of my joke prior, just talk about whatever you want to talk about and get to know somebody as quick as possible because people are messed up and you don’t want to be with the messed up ones for very long so make it quick!”
Scott Eastwood, on the best dating advice: I think people try to put on a representative when you first meet somebody and instead of doing that just drop all that crap. You don’t have to tell people who you are or all the good things you’re doing like your representative would say just be yourself”
Britt, on making an adaptation: For me the biggest challenge was for me a lot of times, especially when you’re doing Nicholas Sparks books, the audience is very specific and they do love his books. My family is huge Nicholas Sparks fans and you kind of have to cater to a specific audience but at the same time, we’re trying to make a really great movie. So, just to be honest in these moments and to not try and make it anything other than the movie that we’re trying to build here and the biggest challenge is finding that balance. At the end of the day, the book for me was a history lesson and we are trying to make it a separate entity.
Scott, on making a book adaptation: I think reading the book, I got to know sort of the values of the character and learned what he stood for and what he was about. Taking all that, just remembering all the characteristics and what he believed in and then bringing yourself to it as well.”
Britt, on how long Scott would stay on a bull: I’ll give you two seconds, three seconds, you could make it out of the shoot.
Britt on the best scene to film: I liked the lake scene last night up until it got real cold. That was fun, jumping off the lake, I was so nervous to mess it up because we only had one chance of me going from dry to wet. I was so nervous that by the time I got to the water I couldn’t even breathe between the coldness and the anxiety of getting it over with. I tend to like, the more fun scenes for me are the more challenging ones.”
Scott on his favorite scene to film: I think, it was the scene that we threw in there as an improvise scene where we had Louise’s character get on the bull and I was in the shoot helping him. I liked that because most the stuff was about me doing he rides, so it was nice to have a buddy scene, helping him before the ride, it was great.”
George, on the most challenging scene to direct: Just trying to stay authentic and be real. I felt like that’s the main thing that audiences can feel when watching a movie. We cover the 1940’s Black Mountain College; we cover Sophia in Wake Forest we shot in real Wake Forest in a real class where they do the art. We did a lot of study on her character and her as an actress did a lot of work prepping for the art and the art we have on the walls. We wanted to be specific so the audiences know wow, that’s a subculture, that’s a world, that’s things that people love. For the bull riding, which the PDR was very helpful in getting that world authentic and in the forties, there’s world war two scenes. Thinking back on everything, we have a wide range of things for the audience but it’s all linked thematically and I think that’s very important so, I have something that even my mom and sister are fans of Nicholas Sparks as well. At the same time, I have something in the film that my dad would want to come see, so there’s something for everybody. I feel really good about that, so we stayed really true and authentic. Scott did a lot of prep work for the bull riding and Sophia did a lot of work for the art, it was very helpful.”
Britt selling the movie in 5 words: Love, sex and bull riding.
Britt, on what she’ll take away from the movie: Working with Alan, because he’s been with his wife for over fifty years, not only just his personal relationship but also his professional advice along with that has been really helpful. The main theme that I’m going to take away from this movie and working with him is compassion and empathy. If you have those two things an actor, as a person, as a human being in relationships than you’ll go a long way if you can understand where the other person is coming from. The movie talks a lot about it, it’s about sacrifice and understanding the other person and where they’re coming from so, I’ll try to use that in my own life eventually.