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Julianne Hough, Josh Duhamel Join Relativity’s ‘Safe Haven’

The "Rock of Ages" and "Transformers" stars will headline this romantic comedy, and Lasse Hallstrom will direct

Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough have officially signed on to Relativity Media’s “Safe Haven.”

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The film is based on Nicholas Sparks’ novel about a young woman’s struggle to rediscover love after moving to a small coastal town. It is set to start production next month in North Carolina and further casting will be announced soon.

Lasse Hallstrom, a two-time Oscar nominee for "My Life as a Dog" and “The Cider House Rules,” will direct.

Hough, star of this summer’s “Rock of Ages,” will play the female lead, Katie. Duhamel will play Alex, a widowed store owner with whom Katie shares a relationship.

“It’s hard to think of an actor better-suited to play the character of Alex than Josh, and Julianne will bring a combination of vulnerability and strength to the role of Katie,” Sparks said in a statement. “They are both such talented and charismatic individuals — and best of all, they have tremendous personal chemistry, which is essential for this film.”

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Chemistry is an integral ingredient to most of Sparks’ work. This will be the eighth of his romantic novels to earn a film adaption, a list that includes “The Notebook,” “Message in a Bottle” and this year’s “The Lucky One.”

The majority of those movies have been at least modest hits at the box office, including Relativity’s “Dear John," which took in more than $80 million in the U.S. in 2010.

Relativity CEO Ryan Kavanaugh will produce with Temple Hill Entertainment’s Marty Bowen and Wyck Godrey.

Sparks will also produce under his new Nicholas Sparks Productions banner.