It’s not hard to spot a movie based on a Nicholas Sparks novel. There’s the classic book cover shot of the heroine leaning up into a kiss from the hero, who is usually holding her face tenderly.
But it’s also hard to miss that Sparks-inspired films have a far better than average track record for jump-starting -- or massively accelerating -- the careers of its stars.
If somehow you’ve missed Scott Eastwood’s quick rise to fame -- on his own steam, not just because of the obvious benefit of being legendary actor Clint Eastwood’s son -- the (often shirtless) publicity for The Longest Ride, out April 10, is impossible to ignore. Scott’s been acting for 12 years, but now he’s suddenly everywhere.
Here are seven other celebs who had a breakthrough moment thanks at least in part to Nicholas Sparks:
1. Ryan Gosling
Before he was being mobbed by hordes of fans around the world, inspiring memes and sharing screen time with Sean Penn and Emma Stone, young Gosling played Noah in a little 2004 film called The Notebook. It wasn’t Gosling’s first experience in a starring role, but it served as a tipping point in his career. The romantic drama gained a cult following and won eight Teen Choice Awards and an MTV Movie Award, where Gosling swept then-real-life GF Rachel McAdams into an on-stage re-enactment of their rain-soaked on-screen kiss.
2. Rachel McAdams
Not to be outdone by her crushable co-star, McAdams — already a burgeoning cult favorite for her part as the fabulously heinous Regina George in Mean Girls — went on to land roles in the Sherlock Holmes franchise and teamed up with fellow Sparks film alum Channing Tatum (Dear John) in the romantic drama The Vow. Next she’ll appear in Cameron Crowe’s Aloha, out May 25.
3. James Marsden
Marsden was already wowing audiences as Cyclops in the X-Men franchise, but he got to take off the visor and show his romantic chops as charming young lawyer Lon Hammond, Jr. in The Notebook. After that came the Hairspray reboot, Death at a Funeral and The Butler. He even starred in another film based off a Sparks novel, The Best of Me, in 2014. His comedic talents will once again be on display with Jack Black in The D Train this May.
4. Channing Tatum
Step Up may have introduced Tatum and his dance moves to a wider audience in 2006, but it was his starring role in the Sparks-based Dear John in 2010 that gave the hard-bodied boy from Alabama the opportunity to work on his romantic range. In typical Sparks fashion, he plays an angry rebel who meets the girl of his dreams after dropping out of school to enlist in the Army. Just two short years later, Tatum was starring in 21 Jump Street and Magic Mike. Fans longing for more Tatum stripper action can rejoice — he returns this summer to have bills shoved into his jiggling jockstrap in Magic Mike XXL.
5. Amanda Seyfried
Dear John gave then-ingenue Seyfried, who co-starred with McAdams in Mean Girls, the envious position of being wrapped in co-star Channing Tatum’s arms and the exposure that led to more audience-friendly films after 2009’s black comedy horror Jennifer’s Body. The Sparks effect surely influenced Seyfried landing roles well beyond the romantic drama genre, appearing in the dystopian sci-fi thriller In Time and as a porn actress in the biographical drama Lovelace. See more of Seyfried in Ted 2, coming to theatres next June.
6. Liam Hemsworth
After making out with a famous pop star (Miley Cyrus) in his breakout role in 2010’s The Last Song, a coming-of-age teen romantic drama based on the Sparks novel, the Australian actor went on to star as Gale Hawthorne in The Hunger Games franchise. He is set to co-star in the blockbuster sequel Independence Day 2, coming to theaters next June.
7. Taylor Schilling
Zac Efron fans may have packed theatres to see the Disney-bred teen idol lock lips with a swooning gal in The Lucky One in 2012, but his co-star Taylor Schilling has gone on to lead her own series. Schilling held her own against Meryl Streep in her film debut, the 2007 drama Dark Matter, but it was Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black that became a binge-watching hit. Orange returns in June.