The Best Of Me, the new film adapted from the Nicholas Sparks novel, stars James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan as high school sweethearts Dawson and Amanda who reunite after decades apart. To establish their bond, the actors spent some time getting their chemistry right before shooting. “That was invaluable, especially on a movie like this, which is all about the dialogue and the connection between the other actors,” Marsden told uInterview exclusively.

Marsden, who has worked on Sparks’ films before, finds himself drawn to his classic love stories. “I find these stories are rare nowadays to see in films,” Marsden told uInterview. “To me it was another opportunity to go down that road and have it be about the connection you have with the other actor. I feel this is something not lost on Nicholas and you see that element in most of his movies.”

The Best of Me is currently in wide release.

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Q: ERIK MEERS: Hi Michelle and James! Congratulations on the movie! Your relationship was obviously central to the plot, how were you able to create that onscreen chemistry? - Erik Meers

JAMES MARSDEN: We don’t like to give away our secrets, our chemistry secrets. We had the good fortune of getting a couple of weeks rehearsal time before we started shooting; just to get to know each other and the director and some of the other actors. So that was invaluable, especially on a movie like this, which is all about the dialogue and the connection between the other actors.

Q: Now you both have actors portraying your younger selves, how do you think they did? - Erik Meers

MICHELLE MONAGHAN: We both had the opportunity to sit down with our younger selves so to speak and talked about character of course. But we really tried to figure out certain mannerisms or characteristics that we might be able to carry over into the different time periods. I was really excited by the honest performance. I think when we turned up to start our production, our scenes, we were able to sort of look at what they had been doing. Their chemistry was so fantastic. They both brought these characters to life so beautifully. It really inspired us in terms of what we needed to do to get back to the essence of our younger selves.

JM: We spent some time together talking about what accent he would have and maybe a few mannerisms here and there. The other thing was, we did have a good 20-year gap to realize that you do change over that period of time. I think we were less concerned with being complete carbon copies of one another. There were more discussions about who this guy was, where he comes from, how would he react in these situations. It was more getting on the same page of who the character and less about looking and sounding the same.

Q: Have you two had flames who you thought of to inspire your performances while filming the movie? - Erik Meers

MM: Not necessarily. I mean I had a former high school sweetheart as I think most everyone has, has had like a former love. You remember, you can relate to those butterflies that you feel for the first time. That racing heart and all those emotions that you attribute to that first experience. We were able to draw upon that.

JM: I read the script and to me it was just a story unto itself. Like Michelle said, I think everyone can understand look back and remember your first love. No one ever really forgets that person. It worked out the way it should have for me. She was a lovely girl, but you’re young and that’s apart of your life. It’s part of your life how you grow, learn about yourself and what you want. I think anybody whose ever wondered what it would be like if you stayed with that person, which is pretty much everyone, is going to understand what these two characters are going through in this film.

Q: Now James, you’ve been in previous Nicholas Sparks movies. What attracts you to his writing? - Erik Meers

JM: I don’t know, you know. I guess it’s just his sort of unabashed boldness with treating human emotion and dealing with these sort of classic love stories. I find these stories rare nowadays to see in films. To me it was another opportunity to go down that road and have it be about the connection you have with the other actor. There is a sort of great Capra-esque, old fashioned feeling to making a movie like this. I feel this is something not lost on Nicholas and you see that element in most of his movies.