The Longest Ride” received early rave reviews stating that the movie is the best since Nicholas Sparks’ blockbuster hit “The Notebook.” Starring Scott Eastwood whose role in the movie marks his entry to Hollywood’s top lead male actors in the years to come, “The Longest Ride” spans decades of two love stories intertwined that explores the challenges and the magic of new and enduring relationships.
Directed by George Tillman Jr., Scott Eastwood stars with Britt Robertson in “The Longest Ride” set in North Carolina, where in the present day, Luke (Eastwood), a bull rider, meets Sophia (Robertson) an art history student. Sparks fly and they embark on a relationship despite having little in common. Driving along a country road, Luke and Sophia save the life of an elderly man (Ira played by Alan Alda) who crashed his car, skidding off the road in stormy conditions.
Sophia befriends Ira, a widower, as he convalesces, learning about his long marriage to Ruth, the love of his life. The film flashes back to 1940 where young Ira, played by Jack Huston, works in his family’s store and begins his relationship with Ruth (Oona Chaplin), an artistic Austrian immigrant. Like the contemporary couple, Ruth and Ira come from different worlds, but there is an immediate attraction and they fall in love.
Finding actors who could bring the vivid characters to life on film was a challenge, but one that the filmmakers were excited to accept. “Scott Eastwood was one of our initial top five for the role of Luke,” says Sparks. “We bantered around a lot of different names, but Scott was always there. When we brought him in, Scott proved to be just what we were looking for. He looks like a leading man, and had a good understanding of the characters.”
Producer Marty Bowen adds that, “Casting the male lead in a love story is very, very hard. You want the actor to be emotionally accessible, but you also want him to be masculine, vulnerable and strong. That combination of traits is difficult to find. When Scott came in to talk to us about the part, he left with the movie being his. It’s as if the movie was written for Scott. He has real charisma and toughness. We had to keep close tabs on him during the shoot because if he could, he’d get on the bulls and ride them himself. That’s just who he is. It’s in his DNA. He had that blend we were looking for.”
Eastwood notes that “Luke is very determined, at times selfish, but he’s a good guy. He’s a gentleman and a hard worker. Luke is coming back from a life-threatening injury and is determined to be the number one rider.”
Eastwood traveled to a ranch to train. The facility’s owner, Troy Brown, raises bucking bulls and is a stunt coordinator. “Scott was a joy to work with,” says Brown. “He put in the time and effort and he really cared that his bull riding looked right. He was always asking the bull riders for advice. We had the best bull riders in the world – the who’s who of the PBR – in this movie and Scott worked with them to make it look as real as possible. Scott had no bull riding experience coming into this,” Brown continues. “But he’s a great athlete – he surfs – so he picked it up quickly. And Scott looks like a bull rider. He’s muscular but not too big. He’s very fit.”
“The Longest Ride” opens April 15 in cinemas from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.