While Nicholas Sparks has become a one man love story factory, churning out novel after novel that then become movie after movie, his "franchise" almost never happened. The writer sold the option on the film rights to "The Notebook" in 1995, but it wasn’t until 2004 that the movie was finally made. While there were several different reasons for why the movie took so long to develop, one of them was fairly vital. Nobody wanted to play the lead. It turns out that if you thought Noah was a boring character on screen, so did everybody else.
One of the things which is generally agreed is needed for good storytelling is a strong character arc. A character begins the film in one place, and through the events that transpire, ends up somehow changed at the end. Nicholas Sparks was being interviewed on the IMDB Asks show when he admitted that many actors weren’t interested in the role of Noah in "The Notebook," because he has no arc.
"It was really interesting because a lot of the actors said, ‘Well, what’s Noah’s arc?’ It’s a guy who falls in love and then he just kinda does nothing, and then waits for her to show up and then he’s there and he’s still in love and then at the end of the film, well, he’s still in love," Sparks aid. "Where’s the arc? Ryan Gosling came in and he really brought that story to life."
Sparks, for his part, doesn’t really argue the point. He calls the character’s arc"relatively minimal." If he’s being honest, he has to admit that. It’s also generally true of the rest of his characters in the story. When all your characters are destined to fall in love from the start, then the last thing you want is for them to change. If everybody is perfect for each other at the beginning of the movie and then somebody changes, then they may not be perfect for each other at the end. We can’t have that now, can we?
While all that may be true, it hasn’t stopped "The Notebook" from becoming one of the most popular romantic dramas in recent years. The film also single-handedly turned Ryan Gosling into a global heartthrob. A title he still holds for an entire generation, even though he hasn’t made a movie like that in years. Needless to say the actor may not have had much of an arc to work with, but he certainly got a lot out of the movie. It makes you wonder how many of the actors who turned the role down wish they had just gone along with it. Nicholas Sparks says he doesn’t actually know for sure who turned the role down. It sounds like he wasn’t directly involved in any casting, so his information is based on rumors he heard.