Julianne Hough talks Valentine’s Day, childhood crushes and her favorite Nicholas Sparks book

Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel star in "Safe Haven," now in theaters

Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel star in “Safe Haven,” now in theaters

This Valentine’s Day, you can celebrate with the film adaptation of yet another Nicholas Sparks novel. “Safe Haven” will be the seventh Sparks book made into a movie, following in the footsteps of classics like “A Walk to Remember,” “The Notebook,” and “Dear John.”

Julianne Hough plays Katie, a woman running away from a dark past. She finds herself in a small beach town in North Carolina, and there she meets Alex (Josh Duhamel), a widower with two young children. As she falls for Alex, her secret past comes to light, and they must face it together.

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, Hough spoke to La Prensa de Houston about the her favorite Nicholas Sparks novel, the leading men she had crushes on growing up, and the romantic things her boyfriend, Ryan Seacrest, does for her. You can check out her Valentine’s Day Speed Round Questions and the trailer for the film at the end of the interview!

SAFE HAVENAG: Congratulations on the film! I loved it. My roommate went with me to screen it, and we were just talking about it the whole way home. There were so many surprises!
JH: That’s awesome! That’s honestly the greatest compliment. Thank you so much.

AG: So are you a fan of the Nicholas Sparks novels? Did you read any of them before you started working on this film?
JH: Oh yeah. “A Walk to Remember” was my favorite book forever. Not just by Nicholas Sparks, but by any author.  It’s just a great book. Then I saw the movie, and obviously I loved The Notebook. Who doesn’t love The Notebook? You’re dead inside if you don’t. (laughs) So when I read this script, I read it not knowing it was Nicholas Sparks. I loved the story, loved the character and knew this was something I wanted to do to separate myself from the things that I’ve done in the past, meaning the musicals, the dancing and singing. I wanted to do this, and then I found out it was Nicholas Sparks. I was like, wow, that’s a whole other element that comes along with it. There’s a built-in fan base, but also, these movies are huge. It’s a lot of responsibility! There’s a little pressure, but just to be in the same category as some of my favorite movies is incredible.

AG: I feel like these movies put so much pressure on men to be like the characters that we fall for in the films. That being said, were there any leading men in films that you watched growing up that you hoped to find when you were older?
JH: Jonathan Taylor Thomas, and Freddie Prinze, Jr. in “She’s All That.” Also, Leonardo DiCaprio from Titanic. Those were the “Hottie McHottersons.” (laughs)

AG: Great choices. I was definitely also in love with “Titanic” Leonardo DiCaprio. So cute. Speaking of “Hottie McHottersons,” what was it like working with Josh Duhamel? I mean, that must have been really rough, because he’s so ugly.
JH: I mean, it’s a job somebody has to do. I just gladly do it. (laughs) Honestly, yeah, he’s the ultimate “Hottie McHotterson.” I love that this is our phrase right now, “Hottie McHotterson.” But yeah, it kind of sucks for all the men out there, because all the women have to know this: as beautiful as he is on the outside, he is so much more beautiful on the inside. He is so sweet, genuine, fun, goofy, doesn’t take himself seriously, and literally, he’s just the perfect guy. He is Tad Hamilton. He’s Alex from Safe Haven. He is that guy. The way he is with the kids, he’s the same way off set or off camera. He’s kind of Mr. Perfect.
AG: Poor Fergie.
JH: I know, poor Fergie.

AG: His character in the film is very protective, which can be a really attractive quality to a lot of women. For you, what is the most attractive quality in a man? What do you look for?
JH: I look for a lot of things. I look for thoughtfulness, but also being secure in themselves to know that they can be really supportive of their girlfriend or their wife. I think I’m just saying all the qualities that Ryan has. (laughs) It’s really important, especially in this business, working in film where you do have love scenes in love and romance movies and you’re opposite somebody like Josh, to be able to be secure and also really happy for your partner to focus on their career and do what they love. So I’ll take thoughtfulness and supportiveness.

SAFE HAVENAG: What’s the most romantic thing that someone’s ever done for you or that you’ve done for someone else?
JH: I’m really lucky, because I have a really romantic boyfriend. I flew into Miami last night, and when I got to my room, there were these really beautiful, gorgeous flowers and a note that said “Home stretch, Love Ry.” So again, just being thoughtful. That wasn’t an apology or for anything, just being thoughtful. I’ve been a little tired and a little sick, so I get to go home tonight. For Valentine’s Day last year, my mom was in town and ended up staying a day longer. The flowers that Ryan had gotten me that came in the morning, while my mom and I were still sleeping, he went outside and changed the note on it to say “To Mary Ann, Happy Valentine’s Day,” and gave them to my mom instead. That, to me, is great. I like romantic gestures for other people.

AG: Is there anything else about yourself or about the film that I haven’t mentioned that you think the readers here in Houston should know?
JH: I would just say that it’s the perfect date movie for Valentine’s Day. It’s everything that women love about Nicholas Sparks, but there is so much more. Guys, who probably will be dragged along, are going to be pleasantly surprised that it’s a thriller. It’s got suspense, and every guy that I’ve ever talked to about the movie now is like “I wasn’t expecting to love it, and I loved it!” It’s just everything and more that you would expect a Nicholas Sparks movie to be.

Valentine’s Day Question Speed Round
Favorite love song: “My Heart Will Go On” from Titanic? No, that’s so cheesy! Nevermind, I’m changing my answer to “You Are the Best Thing” by Ray LaMontagne.
Best first date food: Sushi, because you’ll get to tell if the girl or the guy are insecure or self-conscious about themselves.
White wine or red wine: Red wine.
Chocolates or flowers: Chocolates.
Spontaneous night out or lazy night in: I’m going to have to tie on that one. I like spontaneity. I don’t like a planned night. I would rather stay in. But if it’s spontaneous, I like that.
Greatest Hollywood romance: I would say probably Noah and Allie from “The Notebook.” Or Alex and Katie!
Best relationship advice you’ve ever gotten: When you’re in a relationship, obviously the relationship as a unit should have a goal in their relationship to move forward. Each individual has to have their own personal goals in life, and each one has to help the other achieve that. If someone has a personal goal in life and the other one doesn’t support that or doesn’t help make that person better or who they want to be, then that’s not going to work. It doesn’t mean that you don’t love each other, but you always have to complement each other. You have to want to make the other person a better person.

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