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The Movie Every Kissing Booth Fan Needs To Watch Before It Leaves In December

This content was paid for by Netflix and created by Looper.

When it comes to romantic dramas, few films have ever been as instantly iconic as The Notebook. Though it was the third of Nicholas Sparks' stories to make it to the big screen — following Message in a Bottle and A Walk to Remember — the 2004 adaptation was based on Sparks' very first published novel and was an immediate success with critics and audiences alike. The movie helped to catapult the careers of lead actors Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams into the mainstream forevermore and remains a very quotable piece of swoony cinema.

Fans of contemporary romances like The Kissing Booth won't want to miss out on The Notebook before it leaves Netflix's library on Dec. 31. The movie centers on the unlikely love story of Gosling's Noah and McAdams' Allie, who, despite being from very different parts of town, develop a true connection with one another after a chance encounter — and a bit of boldness on Noah's part. Needless to say, don't try his Ferris wheel proposal trick, folks. 

Be sure to stock up on tissues and chocolates when you decide to click play on this beloved romance. But before you do, here are a few other things you should know about The Notebook.

Noah and Allie are based on real-life people

Though the author certainly took some creative liberties in developing his manuscript for The Notebook, Sparks has admitted to drawing inspiration for his main characters from some people who were near and dear in his own life. In a blog posted to his website, Sparks revealed that he based the novel on his then-wife Cathy's grandparents, who were together for 60 years. Sparks explained that his wife's connection to her grandparents was so strong that, after the aging couple was unable to attend their wedding due to an illness, his wife woke up the next day and decided the newlyweds should dress up in their wedding gear again and take the celebration to their loved ones' home.

"My grandfather-in-law slipped into his jacket and put on the boutonniere and we took photographs with them; we went inside and watched the video as we ate a slice of cake, and it was then they told us the story of how they met and fell in love, parts of which eventually made their way into The Notebook," Sparks wrote. "But though their story was wonderful, what I most remember from that day is the way they were treating each other. The way his eyes shined when he looked at her, the way he held her hand, the way he got her tea and took care of her. I remember watching them together and thinking to myself that after sixty years of marriage, these two people were treating each other exactly the same as my wife and I were treating each other after twelve hours. What a wonderful gift they'd given us, I thought, to show us on our first day of marriage that true love can last forever." And the rest is entertainment history.

The casting could have been very different

It's hard to imagine anyone besides Gosling and McAdams playing Noah and Allie, but the cast list for the film was almost totally different. Back in 1998, Steven Spielberg was initially attached to the adaptation of The Notebook and reportedly had an eye on Tom Cruise to star as the hunky southerner Noah for his version of the film. George Clooney also recently revealed that he was in contention for the role once upon a time, telling audiences at the virtual 64th BFI London Film Festival that he would've played young Noah, with Paul Newman playing the older version, "Duke," a role that eventually went to James Garner. "Basically, I was going to play him as a young man, and it was funny," Clooney said. "We met and said, 'This is it. It's going to be great."

Director Nick Cassavetes ultimately chose Gosling, of course, in part because he thought Gosling was just kooky enough to be convincing as a believer of love at first sight. "I just thought he was just, sorry Ryan, but weird enough in certain respects that you would believe that he could know that he could take one look at somebody and know that was the person for them," he said in a behind-the-scenes interview from the film's set.

There were also several other actresses who auditioned for the role of Allie after Gosling was cast. One such would-be-Allie was Britney Spears, who had previously worked with Gosling when they were both kids on the Disney Channel's Mickey Mouse Club. Gosling later told Entertainment Tonight of her screen test, "She was really good, actually. She did a nice job." Jessica Biel has also spoken up about her audition for the part, telling Elle Magazine that she tried out for the role while she was filming Texas Chainsaw Massacre. "That's one that I wanted so badly," she said. "I auditioned with Ryan Gosling in my trailer — covered in blood. Nick Cassavetes put me through the wringer in an interesting, excitingly creative way." Singer-actress Jessica Simpson also claimed in her memoir Open Book that she was offered the role but decided to turn it down.

McAdams' audition was an auspicious moment

McAdams wound up being the last actress to audition for the role of Allie, but her approach also turned out to be the best. The actress was unknown to both Cassavetes and Gosling at the time, but she blew them away with her performance, and even she knew it was a successful tryout right away. "I read the script the night before and bawled my eyes out. I'm surprised that I even got up the next day. I was just wrecked by it," McAdams explained in a behind-the-scenes feature for the film. 

Gosling was particularly impressed by how unshakable she was in her delivery of the lines. "Every girl wanted to talk about the scene and the character and all of these things, and we talked about it just endlessly," he remembered. "But Rachel came in, and we were like, 'Do you want to talk about it?' She was like, 'No.'"

McAdams described her final scene read as "electric," adding, "It was just a feeling there. Everything fit. Everything worked. It was the best audition experience I've ever had. And I just walked out of that room, and I was just in another world. I just couldn't catch my breath." Gosling later told ScreenSlam that what sold him on McAdams for the role was her confidence, saying, "She came in, and she just took the role. And it was clear to me anyways that this was an actress that I wanted to work with. In the audition I just felt like she not only was talented, but she had a lot of opinions, and she was going to fight for those opinions. She wasn't going to be swayed or manipulated."

Gosling got very method in preparing for the role

Before filming began on The Notebook, Gosling used his preparatory time to get into character by taking up residence in Charleston, South Carolina for two months, which would become the site of much of the production. There, he spent time as an apprentice for a local cabinet maker to get into the mindset of the blue collar worker Noah Calhoun and build up the muscle he would need for the later portions of the movie, since they were actually filmed first. Gosling explained to The Morning Call, "This guy just had to be strong. I didn't exactly know what he should look like, but I just knew that he had to be so much stronger than he was when he was 17."

In addition to bulking up, the experience allowed him to learn how to genuinely make the same type of furniture that the character does, and that knowledge came into good use on the set. In the movie, Noah builds a table for Allie that becomes the site of both dinner and some extracurricular activity for the two. And as an added bit of authenticity, according to a profile in The New York Times Gosling physically crafted that very piece himself.

The director had to get creative to make that iconic scene happen

One of The Notebook's most enduringly heart-swelling scenes almost didn't happen. The boat scene was remarkable for its picture-perfect wilderness landscape and the hundreds of swans that surrounded them in the swamp. However, Cassavetes revealed that he had to take matters into his own hands to make that classic movie moment happen.

In an interview with Vh1, Cassavetes revealed that the studio was unable to secure an animal handler who could deliver such a large ballet of birds that could be trained for this serene scene. So, instead of taking the scene out of the script, he became something of an avian trainer in his off-time. "We went down and bought a trailer like the back of one of those semis, talked to some of the animal people down there and bought a bunch of hatchlings and just raised them as chicks and marched them out to the lake every day and fed them out there. By the time the movie was shooting, they were kind of grown, but they had been fed out there every day," Cassavetes remembered. "So, when the studio came down to see the scene — because they didn't believe we could do it — the guy marched them out there like the Pied Piper and they went out on the lake."

Gosling improvised one of the movie's best lines

Another of The Notebook's most quotable scenes came in part thanks to Gosling's ad-libbing skills. In a scene when Noah and Allie fight, and Noah grills Allie about how she has been making too many choices based on the feelings and desires of others around her instead of herself, he repeatedly demands to know, "What do you want?" That line, which has gone on to be one of the movie's most famous, according to Cassavetes, was not originally in the script.

The director told Vh1, "There was a scene at the end where Ryan improvised, 'What do you want? What do you want?' And it became one of the most iconic things from the film [that] wasn't in the script. He just knew it." Cassavetes went on to explain that he decided to go forward with Gosling's new turn of phrase for the scene because he recognized the power of the performances of Gosling and McAdams in that moment, saying, "He was so on it. We just let him go. They deserve all the credit in the world, those guys."

Yes, you can visit most of the locations from the movie

There are a lot of historical tours that can be taken in and around Charleston, South Carolina, so fans of The Notebook are in for a real treat if they ever make the trek. Much of the movie was filmed throughout the Lowcountry, and several of those sites are open to the public. For example, the American Theater, which played host to Noah and Allie's first group date with friends, now serves as a venue for private events. Fans can also visit Boone Hall Plantation, which served as Allie's family's home and is regularly available for tours and events.

Meanwhile, the site of the outdoor boat scene, Cypress Gardens, is also a popular tourism spot and hosts many private events. Some of the other exterior locations that are open to public viewing and to tourists taking photographs include the College of Charleston's campus buildings, the William Aiken House, and the Calhoun Mansion, to name a few. So for those who want to relive the love story of Noah and Allie in real life, there are plenty of places to go to experience the charming scenery for yourself.