By Sharon Clott Kanter
Updated Feb 14, 2013 @ 6:53 pm
Relativity Media

Julianne Hough can’t wait for you to see Safe Haven, the latest Nicholas Sparks book-turned-film, open in theaters today. In the movie, Hough plays Katie, a woman with a dark secret, who moves to a small North Carolina town and finds herself falling for widowed store owner Alex (Josh Duhamel). “We shot it in the summer, and it was the best summer of my life,” Hough told “I hope everyone who sees can feel the excitement that I had shooting the movie.” For the role, the actress/singer/dancer underwent a complete transformation—both physically (her haircut) and professionally (her serious side). “I got my haircut for the movie, and with the short hair, I felt like Katie from the get go. It’s amazing how a haircut can do that,” she said. As for her career, she’s invigorated by the experience this brought her. “I grew so much as an actress and it’s a complete departure for people to see this new side of me. This side of me definitely doesn’t lean and hold on to the singing and dancing side to me—I don’t have a crutch,” she said. “It’s about growth and heading in the direction I want to head. I want to be as versatile as possible.”

Fun fact: In honor of the movie, Baked by Melissa created a Safe Haven cupcake flavor; head to ($45 for a box of 50) to pick up the tasty treats.

Plus, try on Julianne's hairstyles!