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DEAR JOHN

Dear Savannah...
Savannah is the female lead in the film, and, as mentioned by Tatum, her background is more privileged than John's. She attends college and has a loving family affluent enough to own an old plantation with a horse farm and a beach house. But she is also idealistic and unspoiled, someone who volunteers her time – she is, in fact, working to help build houses during her Spring Break.

It's a richly-drawn, complicated role, and finding the right Savannah was a challenge for the producers. In addition to being emotionally demanding, they needed to find an actress who could play both the young and, as the story moves to the present, a more mature Savannah. Ultimately, they found their Savannah in acclaimed young star Amanda Seyfried.

As Linden explains, "Given the story, we worked hard in the script process to make Savannah as likeable as possible. Amanda is perfect casting in that regard because there's nothing sanctimonious about her at all. Her instinct is to fight the melodramatic moments that could develop in her character, and that's the right instinct. "It needs to be emotional without being sentimental,” Linden adds, "and Amanda knew exactly how to do that.”

Describing her character, Seyfriend says, "Savannah's a good girl, a smart, open-minded young woman who doesn't take life too seriously. And she's a romantic, which is why she and John click so well. She falls in love pretty hard right away – it's a big deal.

"I don't think she's ever been in love before she meets this guy,” Seyfried continues, "and she immediately begins to feel like she completely knows him, which is really beautiful. Unfortunately, she has to then deal with the transition from seeing him every day for two weeks to not seeing him at all, feeling completely alone without him and dealing with the fact that he's a soldier in danger.”

Tatum echoes Seyfried's thoughts in describing their characters' attraction. "When John comes home and meets Savannah,” he says, "I think he found for the first time someone who made him open up. She's someone he can't stop thinking about and wants to be around all the time. Savannah's quirky, and lovable self signifies to John what he loves about the world but doesn't know all that much about. She is pure and good, and he's never felt so accepted.” Of working with his co-star, Tatum says, "I just think Amanda's amazing and beautiful and brilliant. She came in and performed the audition differently – her work almost threw me because she brought in a sense of irony and humor that no one else did.

"And she's nuts,” Tatum continues. "She's absolutely out of her mind, which I love,” he laughs. Of his lead actress, Hallström says, "Amanda did a really great job adding her personality to the character. Her unpredictability was also very rewarding. She just has a way of avoiding clichés and obvious choices.”

The filmmaker was thrilled with the performances of his romantic leads and their chemistry together. "It's been great to be able to work with fresh new actors,” says Hallström. "To work with Channing and Amanda is inspiring and” – he begins to laugh – "rejuvenating for an old man.”

Hallström also appreciated that the duo were open to improvisation, something he likes to explore when directing his films. "They enjoyed improvising a little bit throughout the material,” he says, "so we always tried to do an improvised version of each scene. There are bits and pieces of their own words, their own impulses in the moment that have ended up on screen. They're both really honest in their performances, and absolutely real.

"I really want to feel that actors are involved on all levels,” Hallström continues, "that they're free to share ideas and come up with ideas for the script and to improvise if they want to. Whatever it takes to keep a scene alive and fresh – that's my #1 rule.”

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