There’s probably only one man in the world who wouldn’t call Nicholas Sparks’ movies “chick flicks.”
His name is Nicholas Sparks.
“I think it’s a fairly accurate term for a lot of films. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s [right for] mine,” the author of film-adapted novels such as “The Notebook,” “The Last Song” and “A Walk to Remember” told me. “People know what you get when you say ‘chick flick.’ But that’s really not how my films are really defined.”
“You know what it is?” Sparks continued. “It’s a ‘Nicholas Sparks movie.’ That’s what it is. That’s probably your most accurate description. If you say that, you pretty much know what you’re gonna get.”
Yes, and it’s going to make all the women in your life cry. This weekend, they’ll be shedding tears over “The Lucky One,” yet another Sparks tale of love, romance and heartbreak. The film stars Zac Efron as Logan Thibault, a U.S. Marine who returns from his third tour of duty in Iraq and sets out to find the woman (Taylor Schilling) in a photo he found overseas and kept as his good-luck charm. But Logan soon finds that the ties that bind him and lady luck are more painful than he ever could have imagined.
It’s not the first time Sparks has explored wartime romance in a novel and subsequent movie adaptation. The 2010 film “Dear John,” starring Amanda Seyfried and Channing Tatum, detailed a woman’s long-distance relationship with her deployed boyfriend. According to the author, delving into themes of war was a natural progression for his extensive body of work.
“All my novels are set in Eastern North Carolina, which is a very military area of the country. So, if you’re gonna write characters in their 20s, it’s very typical that you might consider them being in the military,” he explained. “And over the last 10 years, with all the deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, you’ll know [soldiers] before they left and you’ll see them when they come back and they’re different. They’re just different.”
“And a lot of [the soldiers] bring things back,” Sparks said, explaining how the idea for his novel was born. “And I had this image of this Marine finding something – a photograph – and picking it up. And I know from experience, he’s going to come back profoundly changed. And then you begin the process of asking ‘Why?’ and ‘What if?’ and I said, let’s spin the best story we can from this.”
“The Lucky One” also asks questions about fate and destiny. Is your path in life predetermined? Do you have any control over your future? Do some people suffer so others can prosper? Sparks says he supports the concept of predestination – with a catch.
“I believe in destiny and fate, but only in retrospect,” he revealed. “Because that’s not how it works. Fate only becomes fate after a period of time. When it first happens, it’s a coincidence, it’s a random event, a chance meeting. And then what happens is people make choices – consciously or unconsciously – and then years later or months later, when you look back, then and only then is it fate.”
Sparks believes his first encounter with his wife – a brief glance across a parking lot during Spring Break – was fated to happen. In retrospect, of course. The couple has been married 23 years and the author says many of the women in his novels embody the passion, loyalty and strength he finds so attractive in her. These characters are part of the reason women are so drawn to the films based on his books. Sparks himself calls some of the movies “rites of passage” and “new modern classics,” and given the enduring popularity of “The Notebook,” he’s earned the right to call them whatever he wants.
Even “Nicholas Sparks movies.”
“The Lucky One” is in theaters everywhere April 20. Click here to order tickets online through Fandango.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.