Safe Haven set visit: Julianne Hough “moving past” abuse

SheKnows visits the set of Safe Haven in Southport, N.C., and chats with star Julianne Hough about her own experience with abuse and how she is moving past it in life and love.

Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel, Safe Haven

On a balmy day in July, SheKnows was invited out to Southport, N.C., to spend a day on the set of Nicholas Sparks’ new novel-turned-film, Safe Haven.

After an afternoon spent hanging out with Safe Haven’s male star Josh Duhamel, I was excited to spend the evening watching lead actress Julianne Hough pull out all the stops in one of her most dramatic scenes of the film.

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As fireworks crashed down on the wooden dock of Safe Haven’s Southport set and loud music blasted in the background, Hough delivered an emotional performance. I sat entranced behind the director’s chair watching Julianne, who plays domestic abuse victim Katie, confront her abuser with tears in her eyes. After the scene I had a chance to talk to Hough about the role and how she personally related to her charcter.

Q&A with Julianne Hough

SheKnows: Were you familiar with Nicholas Sparks before this film?

Julianne Hough: I read his books before I saw any of his movies. I read A Walk to Remember like 17 times. It’s like my favorite book ever. I thought Mandy Moore was awesome in it. And who doesn’t love The Notebook? It’s like the perfect movie to grab a bowl of ice cream, and sob my eyes out. It’s what people want to see. It’s a triumph always.

SK: How does Safe Haven compare with the other films?

JH: This one is so different than his previous books and movies. This has got such a thriller aspect to it.

SK: How did you relate to your character Katie and her experience as a victim of domestic abuse?

JH: I’ve been through certain things in my life that I think a lot of people have. I definitely related personally to her. She’s very guarded and doesn’t want to open herself up a lot to people because she’s been hurt and I think that’s typical of a lot of people after they’ve been burned. I’m very similar, you can ask my friends.

SK: What was the most challenging aspect of this role?

JH: This was an interesting process for me because everything that I’ve done before has been so scripted and on the page. In this one, he’s like ‘Make it your own, say what you want.’ It’s so much more real. Because I do relate so much to her, it’s a lot of what I would say. Not a lot of talking, a lot of feeling.

Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel, Safe Haven

SK: How did you like working with Josh Duhamel?

JH: He’s very easy to work with. He is Alex. He’s the nice guy who’s been through things that shaped who he is. He’s that safe person in real life, too. He’s very open to people and wanting to be their friend. He’s got that light about him where you feel safe. When I’m around him, there’s a safety and comfort.

SK: You said you’d read Safe Haven, what book are you into right now?

JH: My dad just gave me a book for my birthday called The Art of Letting Go. There are just times in your life where something just clicks and you move past it. Everybody has their own issues and you have to work through them with the people that you’re with. When you have somebody that’s safe, it’s easy.

SK: Well, you’re in a great relationship now with Ryan Seacrest. What’s your secret to success?

JH: Being honest with your partner and who you are. Being vulnerable to open yourself up to somebody.

Be sure to catch Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel in Safe Haven, in theaters Valentine’s Day!

And for your chance to meet the cast, attend “A Night with Nicholas Sparks’ Safe Haven: Filmmakers, Author and Stars Bring the Book to Life,” on Thursday, January 17th! Nicholas Sparks, director Lasse Hallstrom, Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough will be broadcasting live to select theaters nationwide. Buy your tickets now!

Photo credit: Relativity