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

Sprint and T-Mobile offer further price discounts

Sprint unveiled a plan on Thursday that gives subscribers access to unlimited data for $60 a month, the industry's cheapest unlimited data offering.

National

Hundreds pay it forward at Florida Starbucks in…

The spontaneous chain of kindness continued for about 11 hours, totaling 457 transactions by the time it ended.

National

Weather system east of Caribbean could turn into…

An area of low pressure located east of the Caribbean Sea has a 50 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression or storm in the next 48 hours, U.S. forecasters…

National

U.S. hospital to discharge doctor treated with experimental…

An American doctor who contracted Ebola treating victims of the deadly virus in Liberia has recovered and will be discharged on Thursday by the Atlanta hospital that treated him with…

Movies

Review: 'When the Game Stands Tall' is both…

The high school football saga "When the Game Stands Tall" fumbles around for a focus while Jim Caviezel offers the most low-key coach in history.

Movies

Girlfriend in a coma: Chloe Grace Moretz

Chloe Grace Moretz is the best cheerleader "If I Stay" could ask for. As the star of the film adaptation of the successful YA novel…

The Word

The Word: Summer lovin' for Zac Efron and…

Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance between…

The Word

The Word: The Zac Efron-Michelle Rodriguez summer fling…

  Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance…

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Jets storylines to watch

Metro looks at three Jets storylines to watch as they play the Giants Friday.

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Tech

Siren: A new dating app that puts women…

Online dating can be brutal, especially for single women. Noting that many women hate wading through inappropriate messages and photos, two tech entrepreneurs decided to…