EXCLUSIVE: Relativity and director Michael Hoffman have offered James Marsden the male lead role in The Best Of Me, an adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks bestseller that Paul Walker planned to star in. Marsden’s deal needs to be negotiated, but the offer was just made for him to star alongside Michelle Monaghan. Relativity had been quietly looking to recast since the tragedy that took Walker’s life late last year. This had boiled down to a short of Marsden and Magic Mike’s Joe Manganiello. While Universal put Fast & Furious 7 on extended hiatus to creatively find a way to finish the movie after Walker died in a crash Thanksgiving weekend halfway through the shoot, Walker had several good projects he was sparked to star in. Homeland‘s Rupert Friend is reportedly circling one of the others, Agent 47.
Book is about two former high school sweethearts reunited after 20 years apart, when they return to their small town for the funeral of the beloved friend. Their bittersweet reunion reignites the sparks, but the forces that drove them apart back then still get in the way. J. Mills Goodloe, Will Fetters and Hoffman wrote the script. Denise DiNovi, Sparks and his producing partner Theresa Park are producing with Relativity CEO Ryan Kavanaugh. Relativity president Tucker Tooley and Richard Middleton are executive producing.
Marsden is currently onscreen in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, and he just wrapped Business Trip opposite Vince Vaughn. WME and Authentic Talent and Literary Management rep Marsden.