Harrison Dahme, Howl Staff
Howl: Where exactly did the inspiration for Logan’s character come from?
Nicholas Sparks: The inspiration essentially came from people I know in my hometown. I live in eastern North Carolina, we’re surrounded by military bases, and the active military personnel are part of my town. They’re at the stores, they’re at the church, they’re wherever you go. I coached high school track and field, and while some of those athletes went off to college, others went into the workforce, and still others went (five of them to be exact) into the military. All five have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, twice, some even three times. Then they’re gone for six months, nine months and even up to a year depending on their service. So…you know them, and then they come back with this difference. They all bring back souvenirs of some sort. I knew some of these kids, they’re 20 years old, their best friend died in their arms right next to them. I knew a naval chaplain, two or three houses down who didn’t even carry a gun, but all these people died in his arms. After his first deployment, he was different. After his second deployment he was still the same guy but you could tell that it profoundly moved him, and after his third deployment…his hands would not stop shaking, he would tell me he’s haunted by these kids that died. So I said “OK, let’s think of a story where someone finds something and they come back different.” And then I got this picture in my head of this marine finding this photograph, and then you just start spinning a story.
Howl: What did Zac bring to the role?
NS: I’m going to let Denise answer part of this because she knows him better than me, but I think the biggest surprise for me was that he is such a nice guy. And when you are creating Logan, you need that aura of integrity, honesty and goodness because he is going to get saddled with so much stuff. All of this loss, ache, torment and guilt is just a struggle, but you need this aura of who Logan really is to shine through. And that to me really worked well in the film and it was something I was surprised with.
Denise DiNovi: I really saw his acting ability in Seventeen Again and Charlie St. Cloud, and the saw glimmers of what he would be as a leading man. So I wasn’t surprised but I think many other people are surprised to see him inhabit this adult leading role so well. I think the integrity and the goodness he has as a person came through, and in terms of the acting ability he really stepped up to the plate to become a marine. We didn’t know how that was going to come off, but he put in the time and the effort. It really was difficult to put that much muscle on in that short of a time, as anyone who works out knows—despite the fact that he is young. Every single morning he got up at 3:30 at worked out for three hours. He really did a great job.
Howl: Now that a lot of your books are being turned into movies, do you ever think while you’re writing: “What is this going to look like as a movie?”
NS: I do, but only to the extent that it just raises the bar as to what I have to write in the novel. You have to be original, interesting and universal. These are the big three rules for everything: characters, specific traits of characters and everything in the story. You have a higher bar, because you have to keep in mind the film, including my own films. You can’t, for instance, have a great scene in a canoe with a bunch of swans- you just can’t do it ever again! (laughs) Even if nobody read the book, I can’t do it. You need to be original. You have to keep in mind other films as well. For example, I can’t write a love story that is at all similar to Sweet Home Alabama. Even though I did not write that book, and I thought the film was delightful, I can’t do that.
Howl: Do you feel that the Lucky One managed to convey the same perspective on fate and destiny as it did in the novel itself?
NS: Yeah, of course! That’s the great thing about working with Denise because she gets the overarching themes. I don’t get too caught up on the little details that change, as it’s a totally different medium and you have to do what works. Movie rules are different than novel rules. But yeah, it’s the theme of fate. In some ways you can say that it was at least equal, if not better done in the film— it is just as powerful. He tends to regard this photograph as the thing that keeps him alive. Fair or unfair, realistic or not, that’s really what [Logan] sees.
The Lucky One hits theatres on April 20th, 2012.