During a virtual conversation for the 64th BFI London Film Festival, the Oscar winner, 59, revealed he and the late Paul Newman considered starring in the 2004 romantic drama and almost played the young and older version of Noah Calhoun.
“We were going to do ‘The Notebook’ together,” Clooney said, per Deadline. “Basically, I was going to play him as a young man, and it was funny. We met and said, ‘This is it. It’s going to be great.'”
The actor said he changed his mind after he watched some of Newman’s work.
“He’s one of the handsomest guys you’ve ever seen. We met up [again] and I said, ‘I can’t play you. I don’t look anything like you. This is insane,'” he added of Newman, who passed away in 2008 at age 83 after a battle with cancer. “We just wanted to do it because we wanted to work together, [but] it ended up being not the right thing for us to do.”
Ryan Gosling ultimately was cast in the role of Noah Calhoun, while James Garner starred as the older version of the character. Rachel McAdams and Gena Rowlands played the younger and older versions of Allie Hamilton, the love interest of Gosling and Garner’s Noah.
Nicholas Sparks, who wrote the novel the film is based on, sold the rights to the book in 1995, but the film wasn’t made until 2004. According to Sparks, it was difficult casting the role of Noah as the character doesn’t have much of an arc.
“The funny thing was, no one wanted to play Noah. It was incredibly hard to find an actor willing to play Noah,” Sparks said while being interviewed by IMDb Asks in 2016, per Fox News. “It was really interesting because a lot of the actors said, ‘Well, what’s Noah’s arc?’ It’s a guy who falls in love and then he just kinda does nothing, and then waits for her to show up and then he’s there and he’s still in love and then at the end of the film, well, he’s still in love,’ they said. ‘Where’s the arc?’ So Ryan Gosling came in and he really brought that story to life.”