These 15 Secrets About A Walk to Remember Are Your Only Hope

You'll want to remember these 15 sweet behind the scenes secrets about A Walk to Remember, the beloved 2002 romantic drama starring Shane West and Mandy Moore.

By Tierney Bricker Jun 10, 2023 12:00 PMTags
Watch: "A Walk to Remember" Turns 20 -- LOOK BACK!

"Jamie saved my life. She taught me everything. About life, hope, and the long journey ahead. I'll always miss her."

More than 20 years later, A Walk to Remember can still hit us right in the feels. Based on Nicholas Sparks' 1999 novel of the same name, the movie became essential viewing for any millennial after its release in 2002. The tearjerker starred Mandy Moore and Shane West, who turned 45 on June 10, and while the latter was known for his work on the soap Once and Again, Moore was setting out to prove herself in her first lead acting role after beginning her career as a pop star. Like Jamie's dream to be in two places at once, consider that item crossed off Moore's professional bucket list.

Moore and West became close while filming the cryfest, establishing a tight-knit friendship that continues delights fans of the generation-defining movie. 

"Mandy was phenomenal and my best friend when we were working on that," West told E! News of the This Is Us star in 2019. "We hadn't had anything that had been a success like that, so that will probably be one of my favorite memories."

See Mandy Moore's Newly Designed Room for Son Gus

Grab your Kleenex and prepare for the ultimate stroll down memory lane as we reveal 15 secrets you might not know about A Walk to Remember—including the other pop star who almost beat out Moore to play Jamie:

1. After beginning her career as a pop star and having just one acting credit—a supporting role in The Princess Diaries—on her resume, Mandy Moore fought for the role of Jamie after reading the Nicholas Sparks novel and falling in love with the character and the story.

"I had such a visceral reaction to it that I remember not being able to read because I was almost hyperventilating while I was crying," she told the Los Angeles Times in 2010. "It was my first movie and I know people say it may be cliche and it's a tearjerker or it's cheesy, but for me, it's the thing I'm most proud of."

2. But someone else almost landed the lead role over Moore, according to Shane West, whose character Landon romanced the terminally ill teenager.

There was someone else—who I'm not going to say right now—whose name was batted around for Mandy's role," West coyly told Entertainment Weekly. "I remember I wasn't keen on that idea and thankfully it didn't happen."

3. While West wouldn't divulge the other actress in contention, director Adam Shankman revealed she was another young singer. 

"The studio had me looking at Jessica Simpson," he spilled to Elle. "But I was driving up Laurel Canyon, I heard Mandy's song 'I Wanna Be With You,' and I thought, who the hell is that little angel voice? I went to the Virgin record store, saw her face, and flipped out. I said, 'That's my girl.'"

4. West reflected on the quick audition process in a 2017 interview with Entertainment Weekly

"Back then, I did audition for it, but I swear to God I only read once," he said. "Adam, the director, had a lot of control, and he really liked the idea of Mandy so he was seeing if I could cut it with her. He brought us together in a room and we read a few scenes and chatted mostly, and then all of a sudden it was happening."

5. Moore had a crush on West, who was eight years her senior, during filming.

"Shane was so cool. Everything about him—the way he dressed, the little cigarettes that he smoked, and the music he listened to," she explained to Entertainment Weekly. "He was the character to me and there was definitely a part of me that absolutely fell in love with him."

6. Because she was a minor, Moore could only work 10 hours per day. She celebrated her 17th birthday while filming the movie.

7. Known for her blonde hair before taking on the role of Jamie, Moore was "very nervous" to dye it dark, West spilled to EW. But after spending the 39-day shoot as a brunette, the This Is Us star never went back to her lighter locks.

"There was a real significance to coloring my hair," Moore said. "As silly as it sounds there was a real significance in the way that people saw me, but also in the way that I carried myself and that I saw myself."

8. But Moore revealed the hair and makeup department initially "struggled" with finding the right look for her because the character was trying to conceal her illness.

"I remember the first makeup test when they cut my bangs and were doing the first camera test. They made me so ghostly white that it was just a little uncalled for—I'm not dead yet!" she recalled to EW. "So they had to recalibrate and figure out how to make me not look the picture of health, but also not like I was on death's door."

9. West bought the car his character drove in the movie after filming wrapped.

"They started pulling out the cars one by one for each character and they pulled out that '67 Camaro for me," he told The Wrap. "And I turned to the first A.D. and I was like, 'How much is it and I want it. Don't let anyone else get it.' And I used part of my paycheck to buy that car."

10. Filmed in Wilmington, North Carolina, many of the sets featured in the film—including the school and Landon's home—were borrowed from Dawson's Creek, which also shot on location in the small coastal town.

11. Shankman has a small cameo in the movie as the nurse pushing Jamie out of the hospital room when she is discharged.

12. Actor Al Thompson came up with the handshake his character Eric and Landon perform in the movie. "He wanted something that could help us stand apart," West revealed to EW. "We were trying to have it be as edgy as possible and at the very end of the handshake, it looked like we might have been smoking a joint and we put it out on each other or whatever the heck that is."


13. Moore's manager John Leshay served as the film's music supervisor and he "instantly wanted" the band Switchfoot—and their song "Only Hope"to be an integral part of A Walk to Remember's soundtrack. He also went on to become the group's manager. 

14. While the novel is not based on a true story, it was inspired by Sparks' sister Danielle Sparks Lewis, who died in June 2000 at the age of 33.

"Like Jamie, my sister got cancer," Sparks wrote on his official website. "Like Jamie, my sister met someone. And like Landon, there was a long period of time when this fellow couldn't imagine himself marrying a girl like her. And yet, in the end, he couldn't help himself. Even when he knew she was sick, even when he knew that she might not make it, this man asked my sister to marry him."

He continued, "It was just about the sweetest thing that's ever been done for anyone, and I suppose I wrote this novel not only so that you could get to know my sister, but so that you would know what a wonderful thing it was that her husband once did for her."

15. When Moore received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2019, West was in attendance as his former co-star gave him a special shoutout. 

"Reflecting back on that time, my first leading role, I can't help but think of my poor, sweet co-star Shane, explaining the basics of filmmaking to me, like how to hit my mark and when and how to deliver my lines," she said in her speech.

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