Real love stories that inspired favourite films – from The Notebook couple to the Uma Thurman fling behind Notting Hill

ON-SCREEN romances often seem too good to be true with fairytale endings that leave us all misty-eyed.

But this week it was revealed that classic rom-com Notting Hill was based on a real fling between a London publisher and Hollywood star Uma Thurman.

The Pulp Fiction actress reportedly met William Sieghart in Harrods, in 1994, shortly after her divorce from Gary Oldman and had a brief romance.

In the 1999 movie Hugh Grant’s character William Thacker falls for movie star Anna Scott, played by Julia Roberts, after a chance meeting in a book shop.

Writer Richard Curtis is said to have based Thacker on old Etonian Sieghart, who he met at Oxford university.

Curtis has always refused to reveal the identity of the ‘real Thacker’ but Hugh Grant has previously revealed the writer told him the story in a “drunken moment."

But Notting Hill isn’t the only fictional film inspired by a real life romance.

From The Notebook to A Star is Born, here are the real couples behind your favourite movie love stories.

The Notebook

The 2004 movie, starring Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling, moved millions to tears with it’s story of enduring love, told from the point of view of an elderly man in a care home.

But author Nicholas Sparks, who wrote the original book, had fans reaching for the tissues again when he revealed his inspiration for the characters of Noah and Allie.

They were based on the grandparents of his then wife Cathy, who had been married for six decades.

As they were too ill to come to the wedding, in 1989, Nicholas and Cathy visited them the following day for a reenactment, and heard the story of how they met.

Nicholas said: “Though their story was wonderful, what I most remember from that day is the way they were treating each other.

“The way his eyes shined when he looked at her, the way he held her hand, the way he got her tea and took care of her.

“I remember watching them together and thinking to myself that after sixty years of marriage, these two people were treating each other exactly the same as my wife and I were treating each other after twelve hours.

“What a wonderful gift they’d given us, I thought, to show us on our first day of marriage that true love can last forever.”

Sadly, Nicholas’ own romance was not so eternal – he and Cathy split in 2015.

The Vow

Another Rachel McAdams weepie, The Vow saw newlyweds ripped apart by a horrific car crash which leaves bride Paige with severe memory loss.

Husband Leo – played by Channing Tatum – has to make her fall in love with him all over again.

The movie is based on the true story of Kim and Krikkit Carpenter who suffered life-changing injuries in a crash 10 weeks after their 1993 wedding.

Bride Krikkit woke from a 21 day coma with no recollection of their big day or falling in love with Kim.

Her husband had to nurse her back to health and make her fall in love with him all over again.

They wed again three years after the crash but, sadly, there was no Hollywood ending and the pair divorced in 2012.

At First Sight

Val Kilmer’s blind masseur falls for Amy (Mira Sorvino) in this soppy 1999 romance.

But when he regains his sight, after an operation, he becomes disoriented and confused and the relationship begins to fall apart,

The film is based on the romance between American Shirl Jennings, who was blind from the age of seven, and wife Barbara.

After meeting Barbara, Shirl underwent an operation and temporarily regained his sight but found the sudden change overwhelming.

Shirl lost his eyesight again after becoming ill, and he died in 2003. But Barbara was with him until the end.

It Could Happen to You

The 1994 rom-com, starring Nicolas Cage and Bridget Fonda, sees a police officer promising a waitress half his lottery money if his ticket hits the jackpot, in lieu of a tip.

Naturally the ticket wins and the pair fall for each other.

The film is based on police officer Robert Cunningham, who suggested that he and New York waitress Phyllis Penzo split his 1984 lottery winnings after both of them chose three of the six numbers.

Robert’s boat came in with a £4.4m win and he returned to the pizza restaurant where she worked to give her a whopping tip of £2.2m.

Sadly, there was no romance but they did become lifelong friends.

A Star is Born

The Oscar winning musical starring Lady Gaga as an up and coming star and Bradley Cooper as her washed up mentor was the third remake of a 1937 movie, thought to be based on the life of Barbara Stanwyck and her husband Frank Fay.

Stanwyck was an up and coming chorus girl when she met and married Fay, a famous vaudeville star, in 1928.

A year later they moved to Hollywood, where she became a screen legend with a string of Oscar nominations and her husband’s career faded.

He became a violent alcoholic and the pair divorced after six years.

However, many think the 1937 classic took it’s plot from the 1932 film What Price Hollywood? which was based on the life of actress Colleen Moore and her alcoholic producer husband, John McCormick.

Colleen was a silent movie star when she wed McCormick, at the age of 24.
But the turbulent marriage was plagued by his alcoholism and his refusal to let his wife try out for talking movies, effectively curtailing her career.

They divorced after seven years, in 1930.

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