The untold truth of A Walk to Remember

Since its 2002 release, A Walk to Remember has become one of the best-loved romantic movies of all time (via US Magazine). The film is based on the bestselling Nicholas Sparks’ novel of the same name. In the heart-wrenching film, Landon, played by Shane West, falls in love with Jamie, played by Mandy Moore. Jamie falls ill with terminal leukemia, and when she stops responding to treatment, the pair spends Jamie’s last days together living life to the fullest. It’s the kind of movie that leaves just about everyone in a puddle of tears, as pointed out by Bustle.

It’s been decades since the film’s release, but its legacy remains strong. Whether you’ve watched the movie a dozen times or recently discovered it on Netflix, there are likely a few things you haven’t heard about the making of this movie. Here is the untold truth of A Walk to Remember.

A Walk to Remember was shot quickly and on a relatively small budget

Although A Walk to Remember became the ultimate romance film for a generation, it’s surprising how quickly and cheaply it was made. The movie reportedly only took 39 days to film. Compare that to most major Hollywood movies, which are filmed over the course of 75 to 120 days, and you get a sense for how fast the stars and crew had to work. The film’s director, Adam Shankman, explained to Parade that it was pretty easy to shoot the movie as fast as he did because it was “basically ten teenagers in a small town.”

According to Box Office Mojo, the movie was also restricted to an $11.8 million budget. While this might sound like a pretty significant sum of money, it’s relatively low for a feature length film. Other popular Nicholas Sparks movies commanded millions more; The Notebook, Dear John, and The Last Song had a budget of $29 million, $25 million, $20 million, respectively. It’s pretty impressive that Shankman managed to pull this famous movie together with so little time and money on his hands!

The events of A Walk to Remember are based on real life

Fans of A Walk to Remember know that the movie is based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks — but some fans may not realize that the novel is actually inspired by real events from Sparks’ own life. As Sparks explained on his personal website, the novel was inspired by his sister. Apparently, Sparks’ own sibling was diagnosed with cancer, and she also shared many personality traits with the character of Jamie. Sparks explained how his sister also met someone like Landon who asked her to marry him, even though she was terminally ill.

As Sparks confessed, the novel holds an incredible place in his heart thanks to the subject matter’s personal nature. “A Walk to Remember was my favorite novel to write,” he explained. He later wrote, “I wrote this novel not only so that you could get to know my sister, but so that you would know what a wonderful thing it was that her husband once did for her.” It’s so touching knowing that the beautiful love story between Jamie and Landon happened in real life!

Shane West taught Mandy Moore about acting while filming A Walk to Remember

Back in 2002, Mandy Moore was pretty new to the acting world. According to IMDb, Moore’s only major role before A Walk to Remember had been in The Princess Diaries. Shane West, her co-star, had quite a lot of acting experience in comparison, having previously appeared in films like Get Over It, Dracula 2000, and Liberty Heights. By the sound of things, West took it upon himself to guide Moore through the process of acting in front of the camera.

In an interview on Rove Live, West explained that Moore didn’t need too much help. “She had a very natural ability at it,” he said. As Moore and West went on to explain, Moore’s only real struggle was that she initially struggled with camera blocking. “I’d always find myself looking down to make sure that I was on my mark,” Moore said, explaining that this was breaking the first rule of film acting. It’s so sweet that Moore could rely on West during filming — even if she didn’t need that much help!

Mandy Moore couldn't work for more than 10 hours a day on the set of A Walk to Remember

Mandy Moore was quite young when she was cast in A Walk to Remember. In fact, she celebrated her 17th birthday while on set. Moore shared a throwback picture of herself on Instagram and, apparently, she was busy filming the school play scene on her birthday. Because Moore was 16 and 17 years old during filming, she was classified as a minor. This meant that the production team had to follow strict rules about filming. Legally, Moore could only work for a maximum of 10 hours a day.

This must have put a fair amount of strain on the production team considering that they filmed in 39 days. According to Backstage, 10 hours a day is actually pretty easy going for a professional actor. The outlet spoke to nine professional actors who claimed to spend as many as 17 hours a day on set! Yikes, we’re glad that Moore got some time to sleep in between filming!

Mandy Moore confessed she had a crush on her A Walk to Remember co-star

It’s always fun to imagine an off-screen romance between our favorite onscreen couples. In the case of A Walk to Remember‘s Mandy Moore and Shane West, fans wouldn’t be wrong in thinking the chemistry seemed real.

In 2017, Moore explained to Entertainment Weekly that she couldn’t help but develop feelings for him. “Shane was so cool,” she confessed. “He was the character to me and there was definitely a part of me that absolutely fell in love with him,” the actress continued. “I don’t know if I could discern the difference between him and the character at that point in time because, again, it was my first experience doing anything like this and I was a 16-year-old, impressionable girl.”

Sounds like Moore dove into the story head first and even found it hard to separate West from his character, Landon — and as far as we’re concerned, the believability of their on-screen chemistry certainly benefited!

A Walk to Remember's Shane West seems to have had feelings for Mandy Moore

Mandy Moore opened up to Entertainment Weekly about once having feelings for Shane West, but what West? Well, it turns out, the feelings were mutual. In 2019, Access asked West about Moore’s assertion that she “fell in love with [him] a little bit.” The actor replied by explaining, “Aw, I think we both did,” before quickly backtracking and wondering whether he should admit his feelings.

Nevertheless, he went into more detail, saying that because he had been part of a punk rock band and Moore was a pop star, they bonded over their differences. “We were definitely opposites attract and so I think, at first, I’m not sure if we loved each other — or liked each other right off the bat — but it quickly changed,” he admitted. Apparently, West thinks that they grew to love each other thanks to the story and writing of the film. It’s amazing to hear that while viewers all over the world were falling in love with Jamie and Landon, the actors behind them were falling in love with each other, too!

A Walk to Remember was shot at a popular filming location

If you’ve seen A Walk to Remember, you may have recognized some of the sets. As it turns out, the town where the movie was filmed was also used for hit TV shows Dawson’s Creek and One Tree Hill. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, West explained that the first scene in the movie was shot by a “giant pool overgrown with leaves and seaweed” which had also been featured on Dawson’s Creek.

According to The Cinemaholic, the main locations were all in Wilmington, North Carolina. Sets that showed the high school, the hospital, and Landon’s home have apparently all made appearances in Dawson’s Creek as well.

Wilmington is such a popular filming location that there’s even a book called Wilm On Film that details how hundreds of productions were shot in this part of the country, including One Tree Hill, Blue Velvet, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and more. Next time you watch A Walk to Remember, keep an eye out for any familiar backdrops.

Switchfoot's music is hugely important to A Walk to Remember

Anyone who has seen A Walk to Remember probably remembers its iconic soundtrack. The band behind a lot of the music? Switchfoot. In fact, the movie features four of the band’s songs, including “Only Hope,” which was the song sung by Mandy Moore in the movie.

Christianity Today spoke to Mandy Moore in 2002 about why Switchfoot plays such a prominent role in the movie and she divulged that she’d spent the previous year becoming obsessed with their music. “The songs are so meaningful, beautiful, and straight from the heart,” she gushed.

The publication explained that a college friend of the band was working for Moore’s manager, Jon Leshay, at the time that the film was being made. When this friend played the band’s music for Leshay, who was also the music supervisor for the movie, he decided the band should be an integral part of the movie. Eventually, Leshay even became Switchfoot’s manager. It’s pretty lucky that Leshay and Moore discovered Switchfoot, as their songs really made the soundtrack what it is.

Shane West ended up buying the '67 Camaro seen in A Walk to Remember

Who can forget Landon’s eye-catching red ’67 Camaro that he drives in A Walk to Remember? It turns out, Shane West loved his character’s car so much, he decided to purchase it after filming wrapped. In an interview with The Wrap, West explained that he used the car on the first day of filming. And, apparently, he fell in love with the car from the moment he laid eyes on it. “I turned immediately to the first AD, and I was like, ‘How much is it? And I want it,'” West explained. He went on to say that he ended up using part of his paycheck from the movie to purchase the car.

When he spoke to Access in 2019, West said the car cost around $7,000. He explained that he was also thinking about selling the car at some point in the future. Whether West sells the car or not, a vintage Camaro is certainly a pretty cool souvenir to keep from a film set!

Kissing Shane West in A Walk to Remember was a little intimidating for Mandy Moore

Most women who watched A Walk to Remember back in 2002 probably wished they could switch places with Mandy Moore for those kissing scenes with Shane West. Perhaps Moore would’ve even been cool with that. The actress was only 16 years old while filming the movie so kissing onscreen was pretty nerve-wracking. As she and West confessed on Rove Live, the two actors actually had to lock lips on their very first day on set, which Moore said was “awkward” as they didn’t know each other at the time and were in front of the entire crew.

Moore went on to explain that onscreen kisses are actually incredibly technical and are carefully orchestrated for the camera, so it’s hard for it to feel natural. When asked about kissing West in the movie by Spliced Wire, Moore apparently blushed and confessed that he was actually the oldest guy she had ever kissed at that point in her life.

Being in A Walk to Remember encouraged Mandy Moore to rediscover her spirituality

A Walk to Remember is often considered to be a Christian film thanks to Jamie, Mandy Moore’s character, who is proud of her faith. Moore explained to Spliced Wire that playing this character actually helped her to rediscover her own personal connection to spirituality and the Christian faith.

While Moore had a slightly different religious upbringing to Jamie, she explained, “I’m religious, and I think if anything this movie made me kind of contemplate where I am in that part of my life — which has been a good thing.” She went on to explain that being in the movie made her realize that she actually needed to spend some time researching on her own in order to “be a little bit more spiritual.”

Moore, however, said that the movie is “not really a Christian movie,” a “pro-faith” film. She continued, saying, “My character is very comfortable in her own right, and she’s very forthright about her religion. But it’s not like she’s a walking billboard.”

Shane West listened to The Cure on repeat to get into character while filming A Walk to Remember

Every actor has their own method of getting into character. Mandy Moore’s method in A Walk to Remember was pretty simple. “I read the script and I [pictured] myself being the character,” she told Hip. She further explained that “eventually you get into such a mind frame that you are the character and you know what they would say.”

Moore’s co-star Shane West prepared a little differently. Apparently, West struggled to cry both in real life and on camera. In the scene when his character, Landon, cried on his dad’s shoulder, West used songs by The Cure to get into character.

“I had a Discman on and I would listen to The Cure over and over on repeat and then they would tap me on the shoulder and say they’re ready to shoot,” he told Today. “I didn’t know what else to do, so I guess The Cure was depressing enough for me to get into the mode to bawl like a lunatic on my dad’s shoulder.” It’s clear that West’s musical inspiration worked because the scene where Landon cries is undeniably heartbreaking.

Mandy Moore continued her schooling while filming A Walk to Remember

Because Mandy Moore was still in high school when she was filming A Walk to Remember, she was legally required to continue with her school work. In a behind-the-scenes video of Moore on the set of A Walk to Remember, she explained that her time was pretty restricted. She had to spend an average of three hours a day or the equivalent of 15 hours a week with her tutor, Stephanie.

In the clip, you can see Moore with Stephanie in her trailer reading about Jack London. “This is basically what we do anytime during the day when we have a free break. I don’t get to go relax in the trailer,” Moore explained. “I usually have to visit Miss Stephanie.” Moore’s tutor said that it was hard to fit in a full 15 hours a week — and we aren’t surprised, seeing as Moore had such a big part to play in the movie. It’s definitely impressive that Moore managed to film an entire movie while studying part-time as well.

Mandy Moore and Shane West have remained close since starring together in A Walk to Remember

Even though A Walk to Remember was released back in 2002, the two leading actors Mandy Moore and Shane West have remained close friends. In 2019, Moore was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame and West even spoke at the ceremony.

“We couldn’t have been more opposite, I think, when we met,” West began, noting their divergent styles and tastes. He believed that Adam Shankman, the director, threw the two opposites together knowing that they’d fit together perfectly — and it seems Shankman was right. West went on to say, “Not only was this film [A Walk to Remember] a wonderful experience in every way, it also gave me the chance to fall for this fantastic woman.” At the end of the speech, the pair shared an adorable hug. It’s clear that West and Moore still care deeply about each other.

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