By Jennifer Ferrise
Updated Feb 04, 2016 @ 5:45 pm
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attends the premiere of "The Choice" at ArcLight Cinemas on February 1, 2016 in Hollywood, California.
Credit: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

It's hard to remember a time when Ryan Gosling wasn’t the ultimate heartthrob. But in 2004, the actor was just another former child star cast as the lead in a little movie called The Notebook. Now, thanks to author Nicholas Sparks's classic love story and the legions of women that watch it again and again, Gosling has risen to an unparalleled dreamboat status that makes both Millennials and their moms swoon.

After his memorable turn as Noah Calhoun, a slew of other fresh-faced hotties—Zac Efron, Liam Hemsworth, Scott Eastwood, to name a few—have all stepped up to embody Sparks’s characters early in their career. The latest is actor Benjamin Walker, who plays the leading man and resident southern gent in Sparks's new film, The Choice, out Friday.

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Credit: Dana Hawley

Like most of Sparks’s novels, The Choice is set in an idyllic North Carolina town, where people do things like take canoes out on lakes and actually get to know their neighbors. Walker plays Travis Shaw, a sort-of ladies' man who takes interest in Gabby (Teresa Palmer), the girl-next-door who is ready to settle down with her doctor boyfriend (Tom Welling).

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Credit: Dana Hawley

After a rocky meeting (his dog gets a little too friendly with hers), the two embark on a sweet and sometimes trying relationship that spans a decade. It’s not all smooth sailing, though. Every Sparks story throws a twist or two into an otherwise sunny scenario and this film is no different (bring your tissues).

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Credit: Dana Hawley

As Shaw, Walker nails the same strong-jawed, yet sensitive persona that made fans drool over Gosling's Noah Calhoun. And he’s well on his way to becoming a household name following his other high profile role alongside Chris Hemsworth in December’s In the Heart of the Sea. But the big question remains: Will he hit Gosling-level status? It might be a little too soon to tell, but The Choice is certainly a step in the right direction.

Check out the trailer for The Choice, in theaters Friday, February 5th.