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Facts About ‘The Notebook’: 7 Things You Might Not Have Known About the Captivating Romance

Find out which actresses almost played Allie!

The Notebook might be one of the best romance films of all time, and is sure to bring a tear to our eye every time we watch it. Led by Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams, The Notebook tells the story of Noah and Allie, two young lovers who begin a whirlwind summer romance, only for life to tear them apart. Reuniting years later, the duo prove that no matter how much time might pass, true love prevails.

Released 20 years ago, this story stands the test of time. Read on for some fun facts you probably didn’t know about the The Notebook, based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks.

Facts about ‘The Notebook’

1. Gena Rowlands had a special connection to the director

Gena Rowlands, 2004
Gena Rowlands, 2004Kevin Winter/Getty Images

That’s right — Gena Rowlands, the famed actress who played the older version of Rachel McAdams’ Allie, was the mother of director Nick Cassevetes.

The first day of shooting, Nick said, ‘Okay, Mom. Action!’,” Rowlands recalled in a 2004 interview with Oprah. “James Garner turned to me and said, ‘Action, Mom! That’s the first time in my career I’ve ever heard that one.’ James laughed so hard he ruined the take.”

2. The two leads famously didn’t get along on set

It was revealed that Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams had a rocky start when filming the movie, even getting into a screaming match at one point, as revealed by director Nick Cassavetes.

This is something the director has since regretted opening up about, telling Entertainment Weekly in 2024, “The last time I did an interview on this thing, I spilled the beans on that. I regretted it,” he said. “Everyone’s like, why are you telling that? I’m like, I don’t know. It caught me on a bad day, but if they’re around, I apologize to you guys. I shouldn’t have spilled the beans.”

3. The actresses who could have been Allie — facts about ‘The Notebook’

Rachel McAdams, 2005
Rachel McAdams, 2005Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

If Rachel McAdams hadn’t landed the part, who knows who her replacement would have been? Casting director Matthew Barry revealed to E! News a few of the other famous ladies vying for the part, including Britney Spears, Jessica Biel, Kate Beckinsale, Jamie King, Jennifer Lawrence and more.

4. And what about Noah? — facts about ‘The Notebook’

One of the actors considered for the role of Noah was Hayden Christensen, known for his role of Anakin Skywalker in many of the Star Wars films.

5. James Marsden didn’t realize how big of a hit the film would be

James Marsden, 2004, facts about the notebook
James Marsden, 2004Gregg DeGuire/WireImage/Getty Images

Playing the part of Allie’s would-be-husband, James Marsden didn’t have extremely high hopes for the film, telling Out Magazine, “I thought The Notebook was going to be a schmaltzy Movie of the Week-type thing, and here we are!”

6. One of the most famous scenes almost didn’t make it

Perhaps one of the most romantic moments of the film is when Noah and Allie are taking a boat ride surrounded by birds on the water, but it almost didn’t happen.

We went into New Line and they were like, ‘You can’t do the birds. There’s just too much — you’ve got to take the birds out. We said, ‘How come? And they said, ‘It just doesn’t work. We talked to every animal wrangler — you can’t do it. The birds aren’t trained. You’ve got to take it out.’ Well, the producer and I didn’t listen very much,” said Nick Cassavetes to Vh1 in 2014.

The solution? Raise the birds themselves, feed them where they would need to shoot and by the time they were ready to film, the birds pulled their weight in the famed scene.

7. Rachel McAdams brought on the tears in her audition — facts about ‘The Notebook’

Rachel McAdams, 2004
Rachel McAdams, 2004Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage

So emotional was her shot at Allie that casting director Matthew Berry had to get up from filming and fetch a tissue. Not much different than all of us watching at home!

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