A Walk To Remember will always be one of the great romantic dramas. The love story of bad boy Landon Carter falling for social outcast Jamie is one of the best coming of age stories out there. It follows Landon finding himself through his relationship with Jamie, who is slowly dying of cancer when they first connect. Mandy Moore and Shane West had such incredible chemistry on screen, you really feel like Landon and Jamie are real people.
The teen movie is definitely a tearjerker. But the story, based on a Nicholas Sparks novel, stands the test of time. The characters live in a deeply religious Southern town with Jamie's father serving as the town's Baptist minister. People might think the film is predictable (critics did) but there's a reason people are still watching and talking about this film nearly 20 years later.
Here are some things you might not have known about A Walk To Remember.
1. It was filmed in Wilmington, North Carolina
The small town of Wilmington has been a film hub over the years for numerous films and TV shows like One Tree Hill and Dawson's Creek. In fact, many of the filming locations were borrowed from Dawson's Creek which was still on the air at the time of filming. The school, Landon's room, and other buildings around town were used to bring the religious town of Beaufort to life.
2. The story was inspired by Sparks' sister
Sparks wrote the character of Jamie to honor his sister, Danielle Sparks Lewis. Most of the book was fictional, but, like Jamie, Danielle was an unpopular girl at school who preferred to carry a Bible and not worry about what others thought about her. Unlike Jamie, Danielle lived past high school. But, tragically, she was diagnosed with cancer. He boyfriend proposed to her because the couple wanted to get married before she died.
At Danielle's eulogy, after she passed away in 2000, Sparks said, "I suppose 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."
Danielle passed away a year before A Walk to Remember was released.
3. Mandy Moore's manager was also the film's music supervisor
Jon Leshay was the one who discovered a mostly unknown band called Switchfoot and wanted to feature them in the film. The song that Moore sings for the school play, "Only Hope," was a cover of a Switchfoot song. Leshay ended up becoming Switchfoot's manager as well and the film helped the little band really take off.
4. Nicholas Sparks movies are pretty much all tearjerkers
Nights in Rodanthe, The Notebook, The Last Song, The Choice, Safe Haven, Message in a Bottle, the list goes on. Just think of a romantic movie and odds are, Nicholas Sparks wrote the novel that inspired the film.
5. This was only the director's second film
Adam Shankman had previously only directed the Matthew McConaughey romantic comedy The Wedding Planner before he signed on to the Nicholas Sparks film. Now he's an accomplished director and producer with Disney's sequel to the beloved Halloween film Hocus Pocus coming up.
6. Mandy Moore turned 17 during filming
Since Moore was a minor on the set, she was only able to film for 10 hours at a time. Shane West was 23 when he gave Moore her first onscreen kiss. He also gave her a lot of pointers on how to work on set since this was her second film after her supporting role in The Princess Diaries.
7. Al Thompson made up Landon and Eric's special handshake
In an interview with EW, West explained that Thompson came up with it to make their friendship seem special on-screen. They had been friends throughout their childhood and this little extra touch really did make them seem more connected.
"Al Thompson, who played Eric, he created it on his own. He wanted something that could help us stand apart. We were trying to have it be as edgy as possible and at the very end of the handshake, it looked like we might have been smoking a joint and we put it out on each other or whatever the heck that is...When we did it again towards the end of the film, it obviously wasn't scripted. We knew it'd be more potent if we added it in again. I remember when the film came out a few people came up to me and actually brought up that moment and I was like "That's all Al Thompson, he deserves all the credit."
8. There were multiple changes made to bring the novel to the big screen
One of the biggest updates was the time period. In the book, Landon and Jamie were teenagers in the 1950s, but Sparks and producers didn't feel like that would draw teens to the box office like a modern-day romance would. The end of the book also leaves Jamie's fate open-ended. The film definitively shows that she passes away, which honestly makes Landon's personal journey more impactful by the end of the film.