Did you love The Notebook? If so, your heart is sure to melt when you watch Nicholas Sparks’ new film Safe Haven – which tells the beautiful story of an unlikely romance between a woman with a difficult past and a widowed father of two.
Katie (Julianne Hough) hesitantly falls in love with Alex (Josh Duhamel) after escaping an abusive relationship. Together, they find security and happiness together in a sleepy North Carolina coastal town.
I was lucky enough to be invited to the set of Safe Haven last summer, along with some amazing mom bloggers, where we were shown around the real life town of Southport by none other than the author himself, Nicholas Sparks.
The day we visited, they were shooting a climactic scene where Katie’s husband tries to find her during the Fourth of July festivities. The whole town was festooned in red, white, and blue from the adorable shop fronts to the townspeople themselves and in spite of the misty muggy day, everyone was in chipper spirits.
(David Lyons, Nicholas Sparks, Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel)
For the scene, the real-life town of Southport agreed to share their Fourth of July parade floats (to show their appreciation, Nicholas Sparks and the Safe Haven crew made a donation to the local Boys and Girls Club).
We positioned ourselves near the cast chairs and watched David Lyons get into character as Katie’s abusive husband. It was so interesting to see his process – even after the cameras stopped rolling he was clearly still focused on the emotions Kevin Tierney would be feeling in the crowd.
After the scene wrapped, we piled back into our bus and drove up the coastline toward the set of Alex’s store and home. Here we met up with the one and only Mr. Nicholas Sparks:
On set with Nicholas Sparks
He spoke with us briefly about the choice to make Alex’s home and the store two separate buildings (in the original novel, they are the same building). He also shared anecdotes about shooting in the kitchen. For example, the family pictures plastered all over the kitchen cabinets were taken by the actors – who snapped lots of fun photos together. It’s little touches like that which really lend reality to the scene.
We continued our walking tour and came across the lovely restaurant where Katie works in the film – Ivan’s.
We all gathered on the patio as Nicholas Sparks told us about writing Ivan’s into the story, and then segued into a historical lesson on the role the town of Southport played in the Civil War.
To top the day off, we gathered for a Yellow Tail Wine cocktail hour… if this wasn’t the ultimate chick experience, I don’t know what is! In the span of 48 hours, I was whisked away to the set of a romantic film, shown around by Nicholas Sparks and given tasty wine. It was the perfect trip.
Safe Haven opens in theaters everywhere February 14th – just in time for a Valentine’s Day date night!
You can check out the trailer here and view more photos from the set visit below: