James Marsden Recalls the Exact Moment He Realized The Notebook Was "Very, Very Special"

James Marsden took a walk down memory lane and revisited his role in The Notebook, recalling the moment he realized that the 2004 romance film was "very, very special" for audiences.

By emily belfiore May 15, 2020 7:15 PMTags
Watch: "The Notebook": E! News Rewind

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While looking back on his iconic movie roles with Vanity Fair, James Marsden revealed that he knew The Notebook was going to resonate deeply with audiences very early on, even though he had his doubts at some points. 

"You know, there were moments where it felt like, ‘Is this, like, really schmaltzy? Is this…Are people just going to roll their eyes at this movie," he recalled thinking. "But then I remember seeing some of Ryan [Gosling] and Rachel [McAdams]'s scenes and [James] Garner and Gena Rowlands' stuff and I was like, ‘Wow, [director] Nick Cassavetes, he's making something special here." 

But it wasn't until the premiere of the 2004 film that it really clicked for Marsden. "I remember going to the premiere…and they were passing out Kleenexes," the Westworld star recalled. "And they were like, ‘We've tested the movie. Trust us, we need them. They need them.' And I remember seeing the movie and I was crying like a baby—like we all did."

14 Secrets About The Notebook

"And I remember going to the bathroom afterwards and there were grown men splashing water on their face in the bathroom," he continued. "And I was like, ‘Man, that was something very, very special.'"

This isn't the first time that Marsden has admitted to thinking that The Notebook was "schmaltzy." Back in 2013, he told Out magazine, "I never set out to make a bad movie. Some movies just turn out bad, and I want to scream, 'Why did you pick that take?!' There are some movies that I've been in that I was sure people would laugh at, that have become huge, I thought The Notebook was going to be a schmaltzy Movie of the Week–type thing, and here we are!"

Still on the topic of classic romance movie with Vanity Fair, Marsden shared that the cast set out to make film adaption the best they could to honor Nicolas Sparks' beloved novel. "There was a sense that everyone collectively wanted to elevate the material," he said, noting that he doesn't agree with its "chick flick" label. "To me, a movie is either a good movie or a bad one. I'd rather see a great chick flick than a bad action movie."

Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images, New Line Cinema/Entertainment Pictures/ZUMAPRESS.com

Thinking back to what attracted him to the role of Lon Hammond, the Dead to Me star added, "The Notebook was an audition and I think everybody had been cast at that point. Obviously, it was a tremendous cast and a really interesting character in that he's not, like, some jerk that the audience is rooting against him, you know? He's actually a really nice guy. He just met Allie too late."

Watch Marsden take a walk down memory lane and revisit his roles in The NotebookHairspray, Enchanted and more in the video above!