The Choice follows the story of Travis Shaw (Benjamin Walker), a lady’s man who thinks a serious relationship would cramp his easygoing lifestyle. Gabby Holland (Teresa Palmer) is a feisty medical student who’s preparing to settle down with her long-term boyfriend Ryan (Tom Welling). Fate brings the two together as Gabby moves next door to Travis, sparking an irresistible attraction that upends both of their lives. As their bond grows, the unlikely couple must decide how far they’re willing to go to keep the hope of love alive.
We spoke to Ben Walker on the phone about his role of Travis in The Choice, discussing the pressures of being a leading man in a Nicholas Sparks film (sorry Ben, no pressure!), his amazing chemistry with Teresa, and much more! See the full interview below.
As a romance fanatic, I’d have to say Nicholas Sparks’ films are a big deal. Is there a certain kind of pressure being the leading man in a Nicholas Sparks movie?
I don’t think so. Now that you mention it, I’m feeling a little bit of pressure. I don’t really think of it like that. The book is so strong, the story is so strong. We’ve got a really great cast, Teresa and a great director. My job is really just not screwing it up.
Did you read the book before filming the movie?
Yeah, I did. Does anyone ever really say no to that question?
What do you think makes Travis and Gabby different from other Nicholas Sparks famous couples, like Noah and Allie?
You look at them and you think how are these two going to wind up together? Especially because when they first meet, they have an altercation in a backyard. They seem like polar opposites. He’s this kind of single and loving it young guy and she’s this very focused, high strung kind of girl. You wonder, how are they going to meet in the middle? That’s what is exciting about it. That’s what is great about love. It doesn’t work on paper necessarily, that’s what happens and you have to deal with it. I think that is what is unique. A lot of times when you see a romantic movie, you go “well obviously they’re going to fall in love” but with this you really get to go on the journey of them getting to know each other and building a future together.
Travis is described as a ladies man, but after seeing the movie I’d say he’s more charming than anything – which trait would you say best describes him?
Well that is interesting, I think one of the most important characteristics about Travis is his family. How important his family is to him. Like you said, he’s described as a ladies man but he comes off in another way. I think that’s because he sees himself as a certain way, but you as the viewer perceive him another way. Everyone wants to fall in love but he’s deluding himself into believing he doesn’t need that.
What do you think it is then about Gabby’s character that really draws Travis in, as they really are polar opposites?
Well opposites do attract. Also, I think he learns from her. She makes him a better person, she makes him shed those delusions. She brings that out of him.
Gabby and Travis go on a few really sweet and romantic dates, which is your favorite? Ours was when he took her to his island!
I love the island as well, because it was a beautiful day. Wilmington, where we shot it, is absolutely gorgeous. It’s the perfect setting to shoot a romantic film. I also love some of the uncomfortable days. Like the day in the rain where we rode the motorcycle to the church, it was unpredictable and fun like a real relationship can be.
Towards the end of the film, there are some really emotional moments. How did you channel that kind of emotion?
I tried to imagine the pain that he would feel. He finally found the one person that is your soulmate and completes you in that way. Having something traumatic happen to them, just thinking about that makes me emotional. I don’t like to think about it. An actor’s job is to make that as realistic as possible. But also, Teresa is great. The script is great. Ross our director, is the captain of the ship. It’s really not that difficult.
You and Teresa really had great chemistry that made this relationship thrive, what would you say was the easiest thing about working with her?
The first thing we learned about each other is we have a very similar sense of humor. She’s very smart, she can ad lib and improvise very quickly. But she’s also strong, independent, and doesn’t take crap from anybody. And Travis is the kind of guy that probably flings a little crap. And she’s not having any of it. That’s not only attractive for her as a character, but that’s an attractive characteristic of Teresa’s.
Without giving away too much of the plot, what do you think Travis’s biggest choice is and how does that reflect on him as a person?
I’d say he makes the biggest choice in the third half of the movie. Like we said, family is the biggest thing to him. But you know, everyone keeps going on about Travis’ choices and I feel like Gabby has some big choices too. She’s the center of a love triangle and ultimately has to make the decision there.
Out of your co-stars, who was easier to work with – the people or the animals?
It was hard working with the animals because they are gorgeous. They’re scene stealers! Never do a movie with cute dogs, because they’re going to rob you every time.
The Choice, starring Benjamin Walker and Terersa Palmer, with Tom Welling, Tom Wilkinson, Maggie Grace, and more is in theaters February 5th, 2016.