‘A Walk to Remember’: Shane West Almost Turned Down the Role Before Mandy Moore Was Cast

When you know, you know. And when it came to casting Jamie Sullivan in 2002’s A Walk to Remember, Shane West knew Mandy Moore was the right person to cast. But Moore wasn’t the studio’s first choice when finding an actor to play Jamie Sullivan.

In an interview commemorating the film’s 15th anniversary in 2017, West admitted that had Moore not been cast, he might not have committed to the movie.

Mandy Moore and Shane West in 'A Walk To Remember' | YouTube
Mandy Moore and Shane West in ‘A Walk To Remember’ | YouTube

Mandy Moore wasn’t the studio’s first choice for ‘A Walk To Remember’

Director Adam Shankman said in a 2006 interview with Elle that he championed Moore getting cast in the film. Warner Brothers, the film’s production studio, originally wanted him to consider another famous pop star: Jessica Simpson. But that casting move didn’t feel right to him.

“The studio had me looking atJessica Simpson,” he said. “But I was driving up Laurel Canyon, I heard Mandy’s song ‘I Wanna Be With You,’ and I thought, who the hell is that little angel voice? I went to the Virgin record store, saw her face, and flipped out. I said, ‘That’s my girl.’”

In a 2017 interview with Entertainment Weekly, West said he wasn’t excited about Simpson’s possible casting. Although he didn’t mention Simpson, Shankman was clear about who the studio wanted first.

There was someone else—who I’m not going to say right now—whose name was batted around for Mandy’s role,” West said. “I remember I wasn’t keen on that idea and thankfully it didn’t happen.”

Mandy Moore is comforted by Shane West in a scene from the film 'A Walk To Remember', 2002 | Warner Brothers/Getty Images
Mandy Moore is comforted by Shane West in a scene from the film ‘A Walk To Remember’, 2002 | Warner Brothers/Getty Images

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Shane West thought Mandy Moore was the perfect choice for ‘A Walk to Remember’

West went on to say that had the actor mentioned been cast, he might have walked away from the project altogether.

Although he didn’t know Moore at the time, he knew she was perfect for the part after their first read together.

“It might have because the believability wasn’t there,” he admitted. “It just didn’t feel right. The person just didn’t seem right. When they brought up Mandy, I was like ‘I don’t know Mandy.’ Then we had that meeting where we had an audition and were both in the same room and I was like, ‘She’s perfect for the role.'”

Mandy Moore sings in a scene from the film 'A Walk To Remember', 2002 | Warner Brothers/Getty Images
Mandy Moore sings in a scene from the film ‘A Walk To Remember’, 2002 | Warner Brothers/Getty Images

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Shane West and Mandy Moore ‘absolutely fell in love’ while filming ‘A Walk to Remember’

The chemistry seen on screen between Moore and West was apparently felt off screen.

Moore and West both admitted they fell for each other while filming (who doesn’t love a good show-mance?), but they never actually dated. As Moore told Entertainment Weekly:

Shane was so cool. Everything about him—the way he dressed, the little cigarettes that he smoked, and the music he listened to. He was the character to me and there was definitely a part of me that absolutely fell in love with him. I don’t know if I could discern the difference between him and the character at that point in time because, again, it was my first experience doing anything like this and I was a 16-year-old, impressionable girl. I was just so caught up in the moment and the experience.

For his part, West said it was hard not to fall for each other on a movie like that. As he told Access Live:

“I think we both [fell in love]. I was in a little punk rock band at the time and doing acting for a while and she was doing the pop star thing for a while and this was kind of her first lead in a film. So we were definitely opposites attract. So I think at first I’m not sure if we loved each other—or liked each other—right off the bat, but it quickly changed. The writing helped, the direction helped, and the fact that she is one of the sweetest people ever.” 

That sound you hear? That’s the sound of an empty tissue box hitting the floor. We’re fine. Everything’s fine.