Julianne Hough and Josh Duhammel have sparks in ‘Safe Haven’

Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough star in 'Safe Haven.' Credit: Getty Images
Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough star in ‘Safe Haven.’
Credit: Getty Images

Former “Dancing with the Stars” champ Julianne Hough doesn’t have a lot of big-screen experience that doesn’t rely on her dance background, so after “Burlesque,” “Footloose” and “Rock of Ages,” she was ready for a challenge. “Yeah, I left the dancing and the singing outside,” she says of her new film, “Safe Haven,” a romantic thriller based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks. “For me it [meant] going to an acting coach and getting more training. It was definitely a lot more heartfelt and personal, definitely.”

Her role — a woman on the run from an abusive past who finds solace with a widower (Josh Duhammel) in a small North Carolina town — also required her to take on some pretty heavy issues related to domestic violence. “It’s a big responsibility to do it right,” Hough says. “If somebody has gone through that, it feels real and honest for them. I talked to women at shelters, I know friends of family, my own experiences but at the same time it was such a safe environment to do it in.”

She could at least draw on her dancing background for some of the more extreme scenes. “We had a stunt woman but these guys will tell you, there’s no way I was gonna let them do that,” she says of some of the flashbacks of her character’s abuse. “This is fun to me. It’s like dancing. It’s choreography and I love that acting feeling. I did get hurt a little bit, but I didn’t tell anybody.”

For her co-star, Duhammel, filming “Safe Haven” introduced a new luxury: two weeks of prep time on location before shooting started. “I was like, ‘Really, what am I gonna do for two weeks?’” Duhammel remembers. “But it was great because I really got to soak in the local environment, live in Southport. Really think about what I want to do in this movie. Wrote a lot, spent a lot of time with the kids, and by the time we started shooting I felt like I was this dude. I wish that I always had the luxury of getting there that early and just sort of becoming part of the local environment.”

Of course, being a small-town boy at heart, feeling like part of that environment wasn’t too terribly difficult. “I grew up in a state full of little towns like that,” the North Dakota native says. “It’s sort of in my blood, I guess. I grew up in a place like this so I would be more akin to live in a place like this than a big city. I love New York, but that’s too much for me. That town just swallowed me up. I lived there for three years. I’d probably prefer a smaller town… like Los Angeles. It’s a whole bunch of little villages just next to each other.”

The Sparks pressure

“Safe Haven” marks the eighth Nicholas Sparks romance novel to be made into a film, from 2002′s “a Walk to Remember” to last year’s “the Lucky One.” But it’s his hugely successful second film adaptation, “the Notebook,” the moviegoers remember most. And that can put a lot of pressure on the romantic leads of a new one, something Julianne Hough and Josh Duhammel are all too aware of.

“There is a lot of pressure to live up to the success of these previous movies, but we try not to think about that,” Duhammel says. “If I tried to do what Ryan Gosling did in ‘the Notebook’ I’d be pulling my hair out. If we try and replicate that in any way, it’s a trap.” And Hough agrees completely. “I am the demographic of Nicolas Sparks books,” she says. “I loved ‘the Notebook,’ but this was our version of what this story is.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

NBA

NBA great LeBron James sends 800 cupcake apologies…

By Kim PalmerCLEVELAND (Reuters) - NBA star LeBron James, whose recent return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state of Ohio sparked a frenzy…

NFL

Jerry Reese confident with Giants, skipping countdown clocks…

Last year, Giants GM Jerry Reese installed a countdown clock in the locker room to inspire Big Blue to play in their own stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII.

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.