The Notebook still defines love story movies, so it's surprising to learn the leads hated each other from the start.
Nick Cassavetes, director of The Notebook, reveals set secrets to VH1 for the 10th year anniversary in Emily Exton's "Ryan Gosling Wanted To Kick Rachel McAdams Off The Notebook Set And More You Didn’t Know About The Film."
One of the biggest shocks to rock the internet centers on the fact Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams seemed to hate each other. Given the love story that plays out on-screen in the romantic drama, and the eventual off-screen love connection, people assumed it was love at first sight.
Cassavetes recalls the hiring process and the meshing of artists to create one of the most discussed movies of the 2000s.
Gosling was handpicked by the director to play Noah and shocked the movie producers. New Line Cinema couldn't understand why Cassavetes would want a relatively unknown actor. Even mentioning the Remember the Titans star as a possible lead caused them to "kind of looked at me like I was out of my mind."
Clearly, he was on point since the movie's tear jerking love spanning decades has given the Young Hercules actor quite a career. Not only is Gosling an actor, but a producer and director as well. Thanks to the movie appearing right when social media and Facebook really took off, he makes a lot of bank and has control of his career.
And Rachel McAdams was an audition turned success story.
He found Mean Girls' Regina George to be "wonderful." She went on to star in Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes series as Irene Adler, a very popular character, and Claire in The Time Traveler's Wife. She also played Paige in The Vow, which was based on the true story of Kim and Kritckitt Carpenter and featured Channing Tatum.
The success of The Vow made it the seventh highest-grossing film in the romantic drama genre. Rumors speculate she may be in the third Sherlock film as Irene again.
He admits the risk in taking on unknown actors and admires New Line for taking it. "A lot of studios wouldn’t have had the courage to put two relatively unknown people in a movie like this."
And it wasn't until a really big argument the leads even got along.
A lot of anger on the set one day during a huge scene had Ryan pulling the director aside and asking, "Would you take her out of here and bring in another actress to read off camera with me?" Not exactly what you want to hear from your leading man, right?
So Cassavetes forced the two into a room and let them hash everything out. "We went into a room with a producer; they started screaming and yelling at each other. I walked out." Leaving them alone seemed to work magic, though.
"I think Ryan respected her for standing up for her character and Rachel was happy to get that out in the open." And they clearly cared about the roles since both actors fought hard for the integrity of the characters.
Like the famous “What do you want? What do you want?" scene happened because Gosling trusted his instincts on who Noah was and improvised. Sometimes ideas didn’t make it, though. The Drive actor wanted to literally burn the Windsor Plantation down to rebuild it. Not really a good plan.
And trying to bond with James Garner wasn’t the easiest thing for Gosling, either. While the younger actor studied roles, really dug into them, Gardner was much more fond of simply getting work done and moving on. Any question was answered with "Do whatever you want, kid,” leading to frustration.
Gosling did learn he’d be wearing brown contacts through the non-answers because “everyone knows Jim Garner’s got brown eyes.”
Definitely an experience to be sure—probably not one the MMC actor was looking for with the screen legend. But an unforgettable one.
Of course, Cassavetes knew all about screen legends since his mom is Gena Rowlands. The Something To Talk About actress appeared as McAdams’ older self and it was probably easy to convince the woman to play the role.
One thing’s for sure about The Notebook, though. Gosling didn’t have to burn a house down to burn the screen and scenes into the mind of the audience even a full decade later.