3. Ryan Gosling improvised one of your favorite lines.
Allie and Noah’s fiery relationship is not without its screaming matches, and bearded Noah’s epic “What do you want” finally put grown-up Allie on the spot. Maybe Baby Goose is closer to his onscreen counterpart than you thought. “There was a scene at the end where Ryan improvised, ‘What do you want? What do you want?’ And it became one of the most iconic things from the film [that] wasn’t in the script. He just knew it,” Cassavetes said. “I’m a literary guy, I was a lit major in college and I like words, but I also like improvisation, [so] that’s fine. But he was so on it. We just let him go. They deserve all the credit in the world, those guys. They were committed to their characters and both of them are terrific artists in their own right. Really, really top-notch artists. I would love to work with them [again].”
4. The Notebook owes much of its success to Facebook.
The simultaneous release of Michael Moore‘s Fahrenheit 9/11 and subpar reviews caused the The Notebook to struggle at the box office initially. “So we didn’t do any business and we had no good reviews; it was considered really bad,” Cassavetes recalled. “And there was this little thing I’ll always remember: I was sitting at home and somebody said, ‘Do you know that your movie is No. 1 on Facebook?’ And I said, ‘What’s Facebook?’” Like Love Actually, Mean Girls and other new classics, The Notebook‘s popularity has only continued to grow thanks to word of mouth. “The social media really helped us to get the word around and kind of like Titanic, we never really had a big week of business — we just went forever. I think that people look back on the movie and they forgive it for being sentimental because love is sentimental. We’re all very lucky that people liked it as much as they did,” he said.
5. Ryan Gosling wanted to burn the house down.
In the film’s second chapter, Gosling’s character spends years rebuilding the Windsor Plantation, and it’s the press coverage he receives that help bring Allie to him once again. Not one to shy away from sharing his ideas, Gosling thought it would be appropriate for Noah to burn down what had become his character’s life’s work. “[Ryan] wants to talk to you about what he’s gonna do. He wants to go prepare for it, feel it, live it, explore other options for it,” Cassavetes said. “He’d come to me and say, ‘Why can’t I burn the house down?’ I’d say, ‘Because I don’t even know what that means.’ And he’d say, ‘Cleansing my fire!’” Gosling’s suggestion didn’t make it into the final cut, but Cassavetes insists there was open collaboration throughout filming: “We had a great relationship, because I encourage my actors to talk to me about anything. Sometimes we disagree, and he’s very strong, but we had a great time. It’s a process with Ryan.”
6. James Garner was not that interested in talking shop with his costars.
Working with legendary actors like James Garner and Gena Rowlands seems like any up-and-coming performer’s dream. Because they were playing two different versions of the same character, Gosling was eager to discuss choices and character traits with his esteemed costar. “Jimmy is one of those kind of actors who’s a no-bulls–t actor from a time gone by,” Cassavetes said. “But Ryan finds significance in talking about hairstyles and everything.” So how did they agree on how to bring old and young Noah to life? An important meeting Cassavetes still thinks about fondly:
[Ryan] says, “I was thinking about accents. There’s all kinds of South Carolina accents — one’s more rural” and this and that. [Garner] goes, “I don’t do accents, kid. They’re stupid.” And [Ryan] goes, “Okay. What about eye color? I have blue eyes. You have brown eyes.” He says, “Everyone knows Jim Garner’s got brown eyes. Do what you want, kid.” [Ryan] says, “Okay, I guess I’ll wear contacts. What about hair?” And he says, “Do whatever you want, kid. Nice to meet you. See you later.” Ryan looked at me and said, “Shut up, don’t even say a word.” So that’s just an example of two extremely different types of acting styles. Both are wildly successful.
To prove The Notebook has reached cult status, check out The Fault in Our Stars‘ Ansel Elgort describing how much he cried while watching the film. The tear-jerker torch has been passed!
[Photo Credit: New Line Cinema]