Josh Duhamel may seem like the consummate leading man, all tan skin and white teeth. After all, he did get his start in the infamous soap "All My Children" and was later the titular Tad in "Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!" His role in "Safe Haven," opening Valentine's Day, is somewhat familiar territory: Based on the Nicholas Sparks novel of the same name, the film tells the story of single dad Alex (Duhamel) and his seemingly doomed love affair with Katie (Julianne Hough), a Woman With A Secret who showed up to his small town under duress and settled down almost immediately.
However, Duhamel was refreshingly candid in a chat with NextMovie, putting on display some decidedly un-rom-com views. Read ahead to find out about the inspiration behind his murder-face, his musical aspirations, the surprising first movie he made out to and more.
This movie is a kind of surprising addition to the Nicholas Sparks film library. There are fights and murders! It's kind of a thriller.
It's not quite as chick-flicky as I think people expect. It definitely has some of those aspects though.
So the whole conceit of "Safe Haven" is that Julianne Hough's character is on the run. Her face is all over posters that say she's wanted for murder. An actor prepares: How did you perfect your "OMG, my love interest is a murderer!" face?
I was just doing an interview with the foreign press, and he was like, "I felt as if you were a little harsh on her when you found the wanted poster." I was like, "Well, I mean, what are you going to do? You let this girl into your house and it turns out that she's not who she said she was and you're letting her around your kids and you're looking at this poster that says she's wanted for murder, you tend to maybe overreact." But yeah, I worked long and hard on that, "Oh my god, my wife -- or my girlfriend -- is a murderer" face.
Did you have some sort of inspiration for that?
You know, no, I wish I had something clever for you, other than I just tried to imagine what would happen if all of a sudden you're in deep with a girl and you find this out about her. And what an idiot I was to think that this little hot blonde fell out of the sky into this little town. What a naive bastard I am.
She will stab a man, no hesitation.
Yeah, she will.
So, like you said before, this is not a typical Nicholas Sparks movie. Is it a good date movie?
I do think it's a good date movie. It's, this movie is, you know, people have sort of pre-set ideas about what a Nicholas Sparks movie is gonna be. It definitely has those elements, but this is also a bit darker and scarier and there's a whole thriller element to it that I think makes an ever-impending sense of doom. You've got this tranquil, beautiful little sweet town where she just sorta finds she's able to breathe in for the first time, and you cut that against this guy that's looking for her that you know is coming, and so you cut back and forth, and you can't help but to get tossed back and forth while you're watching it. For that reason it isn't just for the hopeless romantics. It's a good story about starting over, second chances and having the courage to leave a bad situation.
There's kind of something for everyone here: Romance and the beach, but also explosions and people getting punched in the face.
And gunplay! You can't forget the guns.
No, you can't. Are you a fan of other Nicholas Sparks movies? Do you watch them and cry?
I have to admit, I cried during "The Notebook." James Garner at the end there, he was just so good. But you know, I'm probably like you. I'm not usually a huge fan of the movies that are just about the romance, because I'm just like, ugh. But a good story is a good story, and that one was. And that's what we tried to focus on in this one too, we wanted to tell the most honest story that we could, and not think of it as a Nicholas Sparks movie where we have to hit every romantic beat and have all the movie moments that people expect. We almost tried to play against that stuff and have little moments here and there that people can relate to, and by the end, find yourself rooting for these two. It's fun to try to make that stuff work, rather than being like, "Oh, sh**. This is that moment in the movie where we have to do this or that." It was more about those little unexpected beats that I love about [director] Lasse [Hallstrom]'s moviemaking. He's very much about playing against the cliches and the over-sentimentality and the things that you would expect. It was almost documentary-like, in that a lot of it was improvised and little pieces of human behavior that happen when two people are falling for each other that normally are skipped over in a movie like this. It was a fun way to make a movie of this genre and try to make it in a way that wasn't so force-fed.
You're Grade-A heartthrob material in so many of your films. What are your top three tips for staying leading man-ready?
Find the funny. Have a pocketful of Altoids. Always make sure that the makeup artist has menthol drops so that you can just cry at the drop of the hat. Fake tears are always good.
You're ready to be a leading man now!
Oh, you know what's better, actually. Always have good one-liners at the ready. You never know when you're going to have to drop a one-liner. I call them the panty peelers.
Oh dang. So what's the worst pickup line you've ever used or heard used?
Was your dad a baker? Because you've got some nice buns. Ooh, how's that? You've got some hot buns? I forgot the punchline.
Is that one of yours?
Actually Julianne [Hough] told me that one the other day.
What was the first movie you ever made out to?
The first movie that I made out to was, I think it was "Wayne's World."
You gotta catch 'em off guard.
I know I go into those movies just waiting to be pounced on.
"Dumb and Dumber," come at me.
"Dumb and Dumber" is one of my all-time favorite movies, don't even talk sh** about that one. It's truly one of the greatest love stories ever made. Harry and Lloyd, that's right. "We got no food, we got no jobs, our pets' HEADS ARE FALLING OFF!"
You're pretty active on Twitter. What's the weirdest thing anyone's ever said to you on there?
That's a tough one. You know what, I don't really know. I can't think of anything. Most of them are pretty nice.
No marriage proposals?
That was one that I was going to say, but I didn't think it was clever enough. I get a lot of marriage offers. So unless I'm a hardcore Mormon, I don't think my wife would go for it. Who knows. If she's a good cook, she [Fergie] might just go for that.
Speaking of Fergie, are you guys ever going to do a duet? Are you going to be Duhamelicious?
That would be sweet. Oh man, I would love that. I would love that. I took a picture with all my buddies the other day, we were in Minneapolis, and we looked like a really bad version of a boy band a little past their prime. I sent them all the picture and I was like, "Hey, we should form a boy band and call it Wrong Direction."
What's your go-to karaoke song?
"It Wasn't Me," by Shaggy. I didn't realize how raunchy that song was until I actually did it in karaoke. Oh god! What a dog that guy is. I always liked the tune, but it's not 'til you really break that song down like, holy sh**, that's f***ed up! "Had her down on the counter — it wasn't me!"
In the event of a zombie apocalypse, what would you do?
What would I do in the event of a zombie apocalypse? Jesus. I didn't realize this interview was going to be so hard-hitting. Let's see. It's almost just best to be bitten by one and become one. If you can't beat them, join them. I'd be like, I'm with you. Throw my hands in the air.
What would your porn name be?
Oh, uh, Jeff Longcock!
You've been carrying that around in your pocket.
And what about the one by the formula?
Oh, that would be Sydney Robinwood.
Oh, your first one was way better.
Yeah, I agree.