And yes, Paul Newman was also going to star.
46th AFI Life Achievement Award, Los Angeles, USA - 07 Jun 2018
Credit: Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

The Notebook almost looked very different.

The 2004 film based on the Nicholas Sparks novel starred Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams as Noah and Allie, the meant-to-be couple at the center of a lifelong love story. And we mean lifelong. That's why James Garner and Gena Rowlands also starred in the film as older versions of Noah and Allie. But it turns out, the film wasn't always going to look that way.

"I was going to do a movie years ago called The Notebook, that Ryan Gosling actually did, and I was going to do it with Paul Newman," George Clooney recently told EW in talking about his upcoming film, The Midnight Sky, in which he cast Ethan Peck to play a younger version of his character, Augustine. "I was playing the flashback and Paul Newman was the old guy."

But there's a layer of difficulty to playing the younger version of someone so famous (something that Clooney again discovered in making The Midnight Sky). And ultimately, that's why both actors decided not to join the romance drama. "Paul and I talked about doing it, and we were sitting there one day and I was looking at him and I go, 'I can't do this movie, Paul,'" Clooney remembered. "He was like. 'Why?' I was like, 'Because everybody knows what you look like at 30 years old. You got blue eyes, I got brown eyes. You're too famous at 30 for me to be playing you at 30, it's never gonna work.' And he's like, 'I guess you're right.'"

The rest is history. As Clooney put it, "We bailed out and I think 10 years later they made it."

Related content:

The Notebook
  • Movie
  • 121 minutes