The movie scene

‘Safe Haven’ stars: Authenticity was key


Safe Haven is not your typical Notebook-esque Nicholas Sparks love story. It’s set in the Carolinas (like the majority of Sparks’ 17 novels) and features a budding romance between the sort of characters — Alex ( Josh Duhamel of Transformers) and Katie ( Julianne Hough, Rock of Ages) — we have come to expect.

But Katie has a troubled past. On the run from her abusive husband, a Boston cop ( David Lyons of ER), Katie arrives in the small town of Southport and befriends Jo ( How I Met Your Mother’s Cobie Smulders), another single woman with a frank personality. Katie tries hard to stay away from any emotional relationships but catches the attention of Alex, a widower with two kids.

Hough drew from her own experiences for the role and even visited several women’s shelters in preparation.

“I’m very much like Katie. I’m very guarded at first, but yet, what you see is what you get,” Hough said. “For me, it was just about being as real and authentic as possible.”

Notable director Lasse Hallstrom ( Salmon Fishing in the Yemen), who also directed Sparks’ Dear John, stressed authenticity, with the actors improvising instead of reading from a script for several of the film’s critical scenes.

This irked Duhamel at first, but he grew to enjoy the process.

“It felt like shooting an independent movie on a studio budget,” he said. “I can’t believe they let him get away with this stuff — it was awesome.”

Alex is multi-dimensional: He’s a likable general store owner and father, but he has his flaws too and struggles to raise his children at times.

“He’s sort of figuring it out as he goes, like any parent does,” Duhamel said.

And even the villain evokes some level of sympathy, according to Sparks.

“When he’s seeing the world, he’s seeing it through a warped lens. He can’t help the warp,” Sparks said. “But he’s still warped.”

Location is key in Safe Haven. The movie was actually filmed in Southport, N.C., the novel’s original setting.

The scenic village was welcome news for Duhamel, who’s from North Dakota. He had two weeks to soak in the news before filming. Southport reminded him of the “small communities” back home.

And residents welcomed the camera crews, for the first day at least. But there was some discontent when the filmmakers re-created a Fourth of July parade scene on five consecutive nights. Fireworks lit up the night sky as late as 6:30 a.m. on some occasions.

“They got a little upset,” Hough said of the locals, who were asking how much longer the fireworks would last.

And though the movie is being released on Valentine’s Day, Sparks said that Safe Haven will give audiences more than they bargained for beyond the traditional love story.

“Its an edge-of-your-seat thriller, and even then there’s more,” he said.

Anthony Cave

Read more People stories from the Miami Herald

  • Celebrity birthdays on April 25

    Actor Al Pacino is 74. “Dancing With the Stars” judge Len Goodman is 70. Actress Talia Shire is 68. Actor Hank Azaria is 50. Singer Andy Bell of Erasure is 50. Former “Early Show” host Jane Clayson is 47. Actress Gina Torres is 45. Actress Renee Zellweger is 45. Actor Jason Lee (“My Name Is Earl”) is 44. Singer Jacob Underwood (O-Town) is 34. Actress Allisyn Ashley Arm (“Sonny With a Chance”) is 18.

  • Billboard Latin Music Awards

    Andrea Bocelli: I was destined to sing

    Talk about an OMG moment for anyone who didn’t know that global superstar Andrea Bocelli kept a lair in South Florida. The famed Italian tenor showed up on Sunday for a solo hymn at Easter services at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Miami Beach.

  • At the movies

    Jared Harris: Olivia Cooke did something ‘special’ in The Quiet Ones

    Olivia Cooke is doing just fine, though the actress didn’t look it in The Quiet Ones, out Friday.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category