Originally planned for the late Paul Walker to headline, the upcoming Nicholas Sparks adaptation The Best of Me has now cast James Marsden in the lead. Deadline has the news, which arrives just hours after it was announced that Rupert Friend will be taking over Agent 47, a new adaptation of the video game Hitman, which was also going to feature Walker in the lead prior to his tragic death late last year.
Michael Hoffman will direct The Best of Me with a script he wrote alongside Will Fetters and J. Mills Goodloe. Based on the Nicholas Sparks novel of the same name published in 2011, the book is officially described as follows:
In the spring of 1984, high school students Amanda Collier and Dawson Cole fell deeply, irrevocably in love. Though they were from opposite sides of the tracks, their love for one another seemed to defy the realities of life in the small town of Oriental, North Carolina. But as the summer of their senior year came to a close, unforeseen events would tear the young couple apart, setting them on radically divergent paths.
Now, twenty-five years later, Amanda and Dawson are summoned back to Oriental for the funeral of Tuck Hostetler, the mentor who once gave shelter to their high school romance. Neither has lived the life they imagined... and neither can forget the passionate first love that forever changed their lives. As Amanda and Dawson carry out the instructions Tuck left behind for them, they realize that everything they thought they knew—about Tuck, about themselves, and about the dreams they held dear—was not as it seemed. Forced to confront painful memories, the two former lovers will discover undeniable truths about the choices they have made. And in the course of a single, searing weekend, they will ask of the living, and the dead: Can love truly rewrite the past?
Marsden, best known for his role as Scott "Cyclops" Summers in the X-Men films, most recently appeared in Adam McKay's Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.
The Best of Me was originally planned to be released on October 17, but it's a good bet that the project will now arrive in theaters at some point in 2015.