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It can be difficult for some viewers to differentiate between reality and movies, and it’s pretty common for actors to encounter fans who think of them not as individual people but as the characters they play onscreen. This can go on for years, even after other high-profile roles. Case in point, James Marsden, who still catches flack for his turn in The Notebook.
For the uninitiated, in the 2004 adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ romance novel of the same name, Marsden plays the primary obstacle the this-is-destiny love between Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling must overcome. And people are still plenty pissed off at him about it. Talking to Vulture about his latest film, The D Train, the subject of The Notebook came up, and while he admits there are definitely people who think McAdams’ character made the wrong choice, he says:
Then I also have people coming up and going like, "Ugh!" They’re just disgusted by me. Like, "How dare you get involved with their love? You are the asshole in that movie." I’m like, "How is he an asshole?"
In his defense, Marsden’s character, Lon Hammond Jr. isn’t a bad dude. He may be a rich kid who comes from money, but he’s not necessarily the entitled asshole like James Spader would have played in the 1980s, he’s a good guy who legitimately loves Rachel McAdams’ Allie. But, you know, he’s not the one, and Lon may be handsome and sophisticated, but come on, Gosling built her a house, and he has that scruffy beard, and he turns into James Garner, how can you not choose him? He doesn’t even try the traditionally manly thing of fighting for her, stepping back so that she can make her own choice.
But don’t feel too bad for Marsden, after all, Famke Janssen’s Jean Grey picks his Cyclops over Hugh Jackman’s Logan/Wolverine in the X-Men movies, which is a choice we don’t fully understand. Come on, he’s Wolverine, he has claws, how cool is that?
While you can’t win them all, Marsden has had a pretty solid run. He showed up in X-Men: Days of Future Past last year, his latest, The D Train with Jack Black, is set to drop shortly, and he’s also leading the Westworld adaptation on HBO, playing a self-aware android at a futuristic theme park. Maybe that last one will supplant his role in The Notebook. Instead of cursing him out for trying to break up Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams, fans will start poking him, trying to get to his mechanical innards. That seems like it would be way worse than people being mad at him for interfering in a timeless love story.