- Even die-hard fans of “The Notebook” may not know everything about the film.
- The movie is based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks, and he based the story on a real couple.
- Ryan Gosling said he was cast because the director thought he wasn’t handsome.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
It’s been over 16 years since audiences first fell in love with “The Notebook” (2004), which is based on Nicholas Sparks’ 1996 novel of the same name.
The movie has become one of the best-known romantic films of all time, but even if you’ve seen it a dozen times, you may not know all of the behind-the-scenes secrets.
Here are some surprising things you probably didn’t know about “The Notebook.”
Allie and Noah are based on a real couple.
The film is based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks, but the author wrote on his website that Allie and Noah were based on his then-wife’s grandparents.
They were together for over 60 years, and Sparks was impressed with how strong their love for each other was.
“They told us the story of how they met and fell in love, parts of which eventually made their way into ‘The Notebook,'” Sparks wrote.
Ryan Gosling said he was cast because the director thought he wasn’t handsome.
Director Nick Cassavetes wanted to cast a male lead who was a bit more of an everyman than typical Hollywood heartthrobs.
Per Us Weekly, Ryan Gosling told Company magazine in 2012 that Cassavetes said, “I want you to play this role because you’re not like the other young actors out there in Hollywood. You’re not handsome, you’re not cool, you’re just a regular guy who looks a bit nuts.”
Britney Spears auditioned to play Allie, and so did a few other notable stars.
Entertainment Tonight reported that pop star Britney Spears was originally in talks to play Allie. If Spears had gotten the role, she would have been reunited her with Gosling, her former “Mickey Mouse Club” costar.
Gosling didn’t always get along with McAdams.
The two lead actors ended up dating for a period of time after meeting on set, but during filming, Gosling once requested that a different scene partner be brought in when he clashed with McAdams.
Cassavetes recalled the moment in an interview with VH1.
“[T]hey were really not getting along one day on set. Really not,” he said, “And Ryan came to me … he’s doing a scene with Rachel and he says, ‘Would you take her out of here and bring in another actress to read off camera with me? … I can’t. I can’t do it with her. I’m just not getting anything from this.'”
Luckily they made it work for the movie, even if their romantic relationship didn’t stand the test of time in real life.
McAdams did a lot of training for her role.
Maclean’s magazine reported that McAdams took ballet and etiquette classes to perfect the refined nature that her Southern belle character Allie would have had.
Gosling received specific carpentry training for Noah as well, and he ended up making some furniture pieces for the set.
The actor told People that he ended up making the two chairs that Noah and Allie sit in on the front porch of the house. He also made the table that Noah and Allie have a romantic moment on.
Gosling wanted to keep the table, but it went back to the cabinetmaker he apprenticed with.
Noah was supposed to have brown eyes, so Gosling wore coloured contacts.
Allie has a “significantly bigger” role in the movie than she did in the book, according to McAdams.
The novel is told mostly from Noah’s point of view, so Allie doesn’t get as much character exploration. The movie, however, changed that to give Noah and Allie equal levels of perspective throughout the film.
“I was grateful for the changes because it made my role significantly bigger,” McAdams told IGN. “I’m glad they have explored the young love a lot more. I think that it makes the end so much richer because you get to see their memories and you get to see the memories that she’s losing and the tragedy in that.”
Older Allie was played by the director’s mother.
Cassavetes cast his mother Gena Rowlands as the older version of Allie in the film.
Rowlands is an actress in her own right who started her career back in the 1950s. And “The Notebook” is not the only one of her son’s films she’s appeared in.
She was also in “Yellow” (2012), “She’s So Lovely” (1997), and “Unhook the Stars” (1996).
“The Notebook” didn’t help James Marsden win over many fans.
James Marsden played Lon Hammond, Allie’s boyfriend-turned -fiancé who she was with after her breakup with Noah.
Even years after the film’s release, Marsden said he still gets fans coming up to him who are angry that his character almost kept Allie and Noah apart.
“They’re just disgusted by me,” Marsden told Vulture in 2015. “It’s just funny how people carry it with them … some people are like, ‘I can’t even look at you.'”
But he also told the publication that he occasionally hears people say they would have stayed with him.
Gosling improvised one of the movie’s most iconic lines.
Cassavetes told VH1 that, according to the script, during the big fight scene Noah was just supposed to say to Allie: “Would you stop thinking about what everyone wants. Stop thinking about what I want, what he wants, what your parents want.”
Gosling then decided to add, “What do you want? What do you want?”
Cassavetes was really blown away by the improvisation, which has since become the highlight of a well-known moment in the film.
The crew raised the swans from the boat scene on location so the birds would feel more familiar with the area.
At one point in the film, Noah and Allie row through a lake completely filled with swans. But the scene was almost birdless because people were concerned that untrained animals would create chaos on set.
Cassavetes told VH1 that they decided to get a bunch of hatchlings and raise them on the lake so they were comfortable in and familiar with the area.
Kobe Bryant once gifted his wife a dress from the film for Valentine’s Day.
At the late basketball player Kobe Bryant’s memorial earlier this year, his wife Vanessa Bryant recalled how Kobe once hunted down the actual blue dress that McAdams wore during the iconic kiss-in-the-rain scene in “The Notebook.”
He wanted to give it to Vanessa for Valentine’s Day in honour of the couple’s own 2013 reconciliation.
“When I asked him why he chose the blue dress, he said it was because it was the scene when Allie comes back to Noah,” Vanessa said. “We had hoped to grow old together like the movie.”
She has previously posted a photo of the costume on her Instagram page.
Gosling and McAdams won the MTV Movie Award for best kiss.
At the 2005 MTV Movie Awards, “The Notebook” won for best kiss thanks to Gosling and McAdams’ passionate, rain-soaked smooch in the film.
When the actors walked on stage to accept their award, they reenacted the passionate moment to roaring applause.
Gosling wanted Noah to burn the movie’s iconic house down.
It likely would have broken fans’ hearts to see Noah torch the house he’d worked so hard to build, but Cassavetes said in his VH1 interview that Gosling floated the idea by him.
“He’d come to me and say, ‘Why can’t I burn the house down?'” the director recalled. “I’d say, ‘Because I don’t even know what that means.’ And [Gosling would] say, ‘Cleansing my fire!'”
Whatever that meant, they did not go in that direction – and the house is still standing today.
There’s a sequel to the novel.
Sparks’ book “The Wedding” was published in 2003 as a sequel to “The Notebook.”
The plot follows Allie and Noah’s daughter Jane and her love story with a man named Wilson.