Cassavetes wanted someone unknown and "not handsome" to portray Noah; he therefore cast Ryan Gosling in the role. Gosling was initially surprised by this: "I read [the script] and I thought, 'He's crazy. I couldn't be more wrong for this movie. ' " "It gave me an opportunity to play a character over a period of time – from 1940 to 1946 – that was quite profound and formative. " To prepare for the part, Gosling temporarily moved to Charleston, South Carolina prior to filming. During two months, he rowed the Ashley River and made furniture. A nationwide search was conducted to find the right actress to play Allie. Actresses who auditioned for the role included Jessica Biel, Britney Spears, Ashley Judd, and Reese Witherspoon, and Rachel McAdams was ultimately cast. On casting her, Cassavetes said: "When Rachel McAdams came in and read, it was apparent that she was the one. She and Ryan had great chemistry between them. " She commented: "I thought it would be a dream to be able to do it. I read the script and went into the audition just two days later. It was a good way to do it, because I was very full of the story. " Gosling commented that, "I think that it's pretty fair to say that we probably wouldn't have made the film if we hadn't found Rachel. . . Really, Allie drives the movie. It's her movie and we're in it. It all kind of depended on an actress. " In comparison to the book, the role was extended. McAdams spent time in Charleston before filming to familiarize herself with the surroundings, and took ballet and etiquette classes. She had a dialect coach to learn the Southern accent.