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The Best of Liana Liberato, Luke Bracey and Michelle Monaghan

Oct 14, 2014

By: Lynn Barker

Even if you are very young you probably still think about the road not traveled. What would have happened if I had done “A” instead of “B”? This feeling only intensifies when you are older, especially if the love of your life was standing on the road you didn’t choose!

Luke Bracey and Liana Liberato as Dawson and AmandaLuke Bracey and Liana Liberato as Dawson and AmandaCourtesy of Relativity Media

In The Best of Me, the new screen love story from popular novelist Nicholas Sparks, Michelle Monaghan (Eagle Eye, Source Code) plays Amanda who returns to her home town and has the chance to reunite with her high school sweetheart. The younger, high school version of Amanda is played by Liana Liberato (If I Stay). Amanda’s love Dawson is played in adulthood by James Marsden (Enchanted). Cute Aussie Luke Bracey (G.I. Joe: Retaliation) plays the teen Dawson.

Young Dawson and Amanda in a tense momentYoung Dawson and Amanda in a tense momentCourtesy of Relativity Media

Michelle had a lot to say about the possibility of rekindling an old relationship. Liana tells us that she and Luke had great chemistry and that she enjoyed re-creating the 1990’s, an era before she was born. Luke, a big sports guy and rugby player in Australia, compared the team spirit of sports with the cast and crews he interacts with while making a film.

Q: Michelle, is it possible to go back to an old relationship and rekindle it?

  • Michelle: I haven’t personally done it but sure, why not? I think people change over the course of their lives. I don’t think you’re the same person as when you were 16 or 17. People change and adapt as a result of life experience so if you have that opportunity, if you have the second chance, you might just be able to find yourself in that position and be able to do that. I’m a wishful thinker.

Adult Dawson (James Marsden) and Amanda rekindle their loveAdult Dawson (James Marsden) and Amanda rekindle their loveCourtesy of Relativity Media

Q: Your character Amanda has a lot of complications in her life. She’s lost a child, she’s lost the love of her life. Can you talk about your emotional journey in this film and what did you think when you first read the script?

  • Michelle: When I first read the script, it touched me. I think that’s the wonderful thing about being an actor; being able to insert yourself into a character and go on this emotional journey with them. Whether it’s reading something that’s 300 pages or going to a theater and watching something for two hours, people are able to escape and go on this emotional journey with the character. For me, I loved Amanda because she is complicated and conflicted. I think there’s this part of her that she’s lost. From the outside, it looks like she has this ideal life but truly, there’s something missing inside as a result of all this life experience.

Michelle Monaghan as older AmandaMichelle Monaghan as older AmandaCourtesy of Relativity Media

Q: Did you base any of your performance on what Liana did as the younger teen Amanda?

  • Michelle: I loved what Liana had done in terms of her performance and what she created and established for the role and it really allowed me to go on this emotional journey of having to rediscover those aspects and those characteristics. It was nice for the character to be emotionally impactful, to be reunited and be confronted with her life and having to make some difficult decisions.

Liana Liberato as AmandaLiana Liberato as AmandaCourtesy of Relativity Media

Q: Luke, you and James were playing the same character at different ages so did you compare notes?

  • Luke: We got to sit down in the rehearsal time that (director) Michael (Hoffman) allowed us made the process easy. It was a couple of weeks to sit down with your director and costars and someone playing the same character as you is kind of an advantage you don’t get very often. I was able to sit down with James and study his accent and characteristics, it was really interesting for me. I’ve never played a character where there is the same character (played by a different guy) in the same movie. It’s a collaborative art anyway, then to be able to collaborate with another actor about the same character was a thrill and I really enjoyed it.

Young Amanda and Dawson share a sunny dayYoung Amanda and Dawson share a sunny dayCourtesy of Relativity Media

Q: Luke, you come from a sports background. Are there any similarities between strategizing on a rugby field and navigating a movie set?

  • Luke: Yeah, I see similarities in the sports I played growing up in the sense of how I tackle a role when I get a job. A lot of effort goes in on an individual basis. There is a lot of time spent by yourself working on your craft and what you have to do. But, at the end of the day, you’re there to serve the movie just like you would the rugby team. You try to do the best you can with everything you’ve got and everyone else around you does the same thing and, hopefully, you get a winning team at the end of it. It’s the old saying “you want a champion team not a team of champions”.
  • (Comparing moviemaking to sports) puts this crazy, strange, fantastical occupation into perspective for me. It makes it something I can wrap my head around. Some days, you’re in the middle of the bayou and they’ve got the rain towers up and there is lightning crashing and you go “oh wow. I’m making a movie (laughter)”. But I can definitely see a similarity in the sports that I played and making films.

Adult Dawson (James Marsden) and Amanda rekindle their loveAdult Dawson (James Marsden) and Amanda rekindle their loveCourtesy of Relativity Media

Q: Both couples have great chemistry. Liana, can you comment on working on the chemistry between you and Luke?

  • Liana: I don’t think it was forced at all. It was pretty organic. We had about two or three weeks before filming so me and Luke had the opportunity to hang out a lot in New Orleans and we just walked to rehearsals together. It’s so important during the filming process, especially for a film like this, to be really comfortable and trust that person. It’s definitely possible to make this film with somebody you don’t really get along with but I was just really fortunate to have gotten along with Luke. As glamorous and the film may look sometimes, there are moments when he was stepping on my foot or something uncomfortable and you have to be able to laugh. We had a good time.

(Note: The director says he loved Luke for the part of young Dawson and heard that Liana said Luke was the most fun to kiss of all the guys trying out for the role so he got it). Liana is embarrassed but laughs.

Q: Liana and Luke. For young people, the 1990’s is a “period piece”. What do you guys think about the 1990’s and working that into your character portrayals?  

  • Liana: I wasn’t born when my character was supposed to be alive so I had to draw off of.…
  • Luke: History books (she laughs). It’s ancient history. Amanda would probably have dragged Luke to see The Bodyguard (starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner in a love story).

Young Dawson hands Amanda a love tokenYoung Dawson hands Amanda a love tokenCourtesy of Relativity Media

Q: Luke, you were alive but you were a little kid, right?

  • Luke: I was born in February 1990. I had sisters that were ten years older than me but they showed me all the movies and music they liked and we went through that so it was very interesting. I’ve always want to be in a movie that is not of this time even though this wasn’t that long also, it was fun to delve back into the psyche of a world with a certain innocence.

Older Amanda and Dawson share a Louisiana snackOlder Amanda and Dawson share a Louisiana snackCourtesy of Relativity Media

Q: The 1990’s was innocent?

  • Luke: Well, it was kind of pre-internet and I think that changed the way a lot of people perceived the world, their love and life. If you grew up in small town Louisiana with no social network or social media, you were more present in your physical surroundings rather than going off into a lot of media things. I think that was something I tried to think about. The size of the world back then was maybe a little bit more concentrated.

Q: That makes sense.  

The Best of Me PosterThe Best of Me PosterCourtesy of Relativity Media

See The Best of Me in theaters starting October 17th

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