Teresa Palmer has been cast in a variety of romance movies over the years. She’s fallen in love with an alien, undercover FBI agent and zombie. She finally gets to have a rather normal love story with “The Choice.”
Palmer plays a medical student who is romanced by her free spirited next door neighbor, played by Benjamin Walker. This is a traditional role for Walker, who is best known his offbeat version of the 16th President of the United States in “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.”
This time around there are no strange creatures or big fight scenes for either actor. They get to play out the old-fashioned kind of love that is a trademark of movies based on the writings of Nicholas Sparks (“The Notebook”).
For Palmer, the story comes down to what happens when your heart and your head begin to battle.
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“It’s about embracing in life in the way things come to you and the roller coaster you can find yourself on,” Palmer says. “My character is living a life she thinks she’s supposed to be living and then this guy comes into her life and crazies it up, but in the most beautiful way. Had he had not shown up and breathed real love into her then she would have been in this mundane experience and not truly living.”
In a film like “Warm Bodies” or “I Am Number Four,” Palmer was drawn to the mix of love story and action sequences. In “The Choice,” it was getting to play a rather straight forward, but interesting, character who at her very heart is a very good person. The interesting part comes from the choices the character has to make.
“Life isn’t black and white but a lot of different shades. She can be imperfect,” Palmer says. “It’s OK for her to be vulnerable, be in the moment, fall into this thing with this man. I love there’s a real lesson in just embracing our mistakes and realizing they can be a beautiful gift.
This is such a beautiful exploration into human connection and how messy it can get. And how sometimes it has to get messy for you to have some clarity.
Neither actor had read “The Choice,” a book by one of the most prolific romance writers of our time, Nicholas Sparks. But, Walker was well aware of the author’s work.
“I was familiar with the behemoth that is Nicholas Sparks’ body of writing,” Walker says. “I hope people come see the movie and when they leave they call the people they love. Their significant others. Brothers. Sisters. Mothers. That kind of love is fleeting and needs to be protected. So, those little choices that me make influence everything in a big way. This film is a gentle reminder.”
It’s also a movie about the choices – big and small – that people make that change the direction of their life.
The choice Walker is convinced most affected his life was the decision to go to Julliard to study acting. He hadn’t decided to make that a career but made the choice to see what it would be like. He knew if he still loved acting when his studies were done, then he would to make it his career path. That resulted in roles in “Flags of Our Father,” “Kinsey” and “In the Heart of the Sea,” along with his starring role as Lincoln.
For Palmer, the biggest choice she made was to leave Australia at the age of 20 to move to the United States. She left behind a life as wife, mother and school teacher to chase acting.
“It was a heart versus a head choice,” Palmer says. “Logically, I wanted to do the safe route. It was a big challenge to make such a big decision when I was 20 and didn’t have any idea how things would work out.”
The decision proved right as she began to land jobs, such as “The Grudge 2,” “Love and Honor,” “The Ever After,” “Bedtimes Stories” and “Point Break.”