Screenwriter Will Fetters knew heading into adapting Nicholas Sparks’ “The Lucky One” that he wasn’t necessarily heading into any unexplored territory.
“There’s certain beats and moments you have to have in a Nicholas Sparks movie, which I learned,” Fetters says of the film about a Marine (Zac Efron) whose life is saved when he finds a snapshot of a girl (Taylor Schilling) on the battlefield then tracks her down to her Louisiana kennel. “I wanted to write a lot of stuff about the war, and I had all these flashbacks. But it’s just the nature of doing a Nick Sparks movie,” Fetters adds. “I did a ton of research [about the war]. And then people were like, ‘Where are all the dogs?’ But that’s just the nature of it.”
So what are those certain beats you have to include in a Nicholas Sparks movie?
“You know you’re going to have a date, you’re going to have a moment that they kind of first get to know each other,” he says. “Some people are going to get naked, people are going to get sexy. Somebody’s going to do something wrong, and people are going to have to choose love over something. Not to be glib, but you do know to a certain extent when you go into this that you’re treading on familiar ground.”
That familiarity with Sparks’ body of work even seeped into Fetters’ writing process — or at least how he saw the film in his head. “When I first wrote it, to be totally honest, Zac wasn’t who I was thinking about. It was older, and it was more like a Ryan Gosling,” he says. “Anyone writing a Nick Sparks movie, it’s Ryan Gosling. You could be writing anything and it’s Ryan Gosling.”
Working in such familiar territory proved to be a great warmup for Fetters’ next gig, penning the Clint Eastwood-directed, Beyonce-starring update on “A Star is Born,” which is yet to go into production. Of course, updating the story of a singer emerging out of nowhere provides its own challenges: “You have to navigate ‘American Idol,'” Fetters explains. “How do you have Beyonce undiscovered? If Beyonce walked by right now and she was not Beyonce, I would try to sign her. I’m not an agent, but I would be like, ‘You should do … something. And I should … make 10 percent of it.'”