Good news, everyone: the next Nicholas Sparks adaptation finally has a female lead! Despite being set for a pre-Valentine’s Day 2013 release this past December, Safe Haven has been without a female lead for the duration of its development. Josh Duhamel (Transformers) recently signed on as the male lead, and now Variety reports that Footloose star Julianne Hough is in talks to land that coveted female role. The story centers on a young woman with a dark past who arrives in a small North Carolina town, and reluctantly begins a relationship with a widowed store owner and his two children, and a friendship with her plainspoken neighbor.
Keira Knightley was previously rumored to be eyeing the role, but apparently a deal never materialized. Lasse Hallström (Chocolat) is onboard to direct the adaptation. I quite liked Hough’s charisma in Footloose, and Diablo Cody chose her to star in the Juno scribe’s upcoming untitled directorial debut. The actress will next be seen opposite Tom Cruise in Rock of Ages when it opens next month. Hit the jump to read a synopsis of Sparks’ novel.
When a mysterious young woman named Katie appears in the small North Carolina town of Southport, her sudden arrival raises questions about her past. Beautiful yet self-effacing, Katie seems determined to avoid forming personal ties until a series of events draws her into two reluctant relationships: one with Alex, a widowed store owner with a kind heart and two young children; and another with her plainspoken single neighbor, Jo. Despite her reservations, Katie slowly begins to let down her guard, putting down roots in the close-knit community and becoming increasingly attached to Alex and his family.
But even as Katie begins to fall in love, she struggles with the dark secret that still haunts and terrifies her . . . a past that set her on a fearful, shattering journey across the country, to the sheltered oasis of Southport. With Jo’s empathic and stubborn support, Katie eventually realizes that she must choose between a life of transient safety and one of riskier rewards . . . and that in the darkest hour, love is the only true safe haven. [Amazon]