“One Day”: The Biggest Differences Between Both Adaptations of David Nicholls' Romance

One thing is the same between all the versions: they're tear-inducing!

<p>Netflix </p> Ambika Mod in <em>One Day</em>


Ambika Mod in One Day

For fifteen years, Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew have been making us swoon — and fall apart. And now, with Netflix's spin on David Nicholls' years-spanning romance streaming, the wound is once again fresh.

One Day, starring The White Lotus breakout Leo Woodall and British starlet Ambika Mod, hit the platform earlier this month, reintroducing the highs-and-lows of Emma and Dexter's will-they-or-won't-they relationship to a new generation of romance lovers.

The story is ripped from the pages of Nicholls' 2009 book, which charts 20 years in the lives of the main characters — from their initial rendezvous as fresh college graduates through the throes of adulthood.

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<p>Focus Features</p> Anne Hathaway (left) and Jim Sturgess (right) in 2011's <em>One Day</em>

Focus Features

Anne Hathaway (left) and Jim Sturgess (right) in 2011's One Day

Related: Leo Woodall Felt 'Protective' Over Playboy Character Filming Netflix's One Day: 'Serious Responsibility' (Exclusive)

One Day was well-received upon release, quickly becoming a modern classic. Its first adaptation came in 2011 as a movie starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess, with a screenplay written by Nicholls, himself.

Nicholls was, again, involved in this latest version of the Morley-Mayhew romance — serving as an executive producer of the limited series — but that doesn't mean it's not without differences to its source material, from small timeline tweaks to character changes.

Keep reading for a deeper dive into some of both the movie and tv series' differences to the book. (And it should be noted, there are spoilers for major plot points in all three versions.)

The series' Tilly has a much bigger role in Emma's life than in the book and the movie.

<p>Teddy Cavendish/Netflix</p> Leo Woodall and Ambika Mod in <em>One Day</em>

Teddy Cavendish/Netflix

Leo Woodall and Ambika Mod in One Day

Emma's friendship with Tilly spans much of her adult life and is key to her and Dexter's own relationship's evolution in the Netflix series. Amber Grappy appears in all eight episodes of the show, and her character is a touchstone for close pal Emma — but that's not how it was originally written.

In fact, in the book, she's referred to as "Tilly whatsername, that loud large girl she shared [a] flat with." After being college roommates, Emma later takes a spare "box" room from Tilly in Clapton, London in 1989. It's also noted in the book that, at some point, Tilly and Dexter slept together — described as a foot massage spun out of control.

Across all three versions, Tilly's eventual wedding serves as a reunion spot for Emma and Dexter after their falling out. In the book, however, Emma notes that her friendship with Tilly has waned. And in the movie, Dexter's then-partner Sylvie is concerned Dexter has slept with the bride — something Emma later confirms in conversation with him, again with the incident being dubbed as a foot massage that escalated.

But beyond those small moments, Tilly's presence in both the book and initial adaptation is limited — it's the series that truly explores the women's friendship.

Emma's novels have a different protagonist in the series.

Emma's eventual career change to — and success as — a young adult author is uniform across the book, movie and series. In the original book, Emma's Julie Criscoll adventures are spread across five novels and spawn an animated series.

In both the book and series, Dexter reads Julie Criscoll vs the Whole Wide World while on the train to visit Emma in Paris. In the film, Dexter sees a preteen girl reading the book while in transit.

Most notably, though, the series changes Emma's protagonist's name to Nisha Halliday. Nisha reflects Emma's own South Asian heritage in the Netflix show.

Emma dies two years earlier in the series.

Across all three versions of One Day, the timeline of Emma and Dexter's eventual romance changes quite a bit. Though, unfortunately, the ending doesn't differ.

In the series, Dexter and Emma finally get together in 1999 in Paris. Their romance plays out over the Netflix show's penultimate episode, following the pair's marriage and attempts to conceive a baby, ending in 2002 with Emma's death.

The movie shifts things back quite a bit — the Paris connection happens in 2003, the two get married the next year, and Emma's accident comes in 2006.

Nicholls' original book sees Dexter visit Emma in Paris in 2001, they marry two years later, and she is hit by a vehicle while biking in 2004.

Dexter gets more support from Emma's loved ones — including Ian — in the series.

Dexter's world is, understandably, shattered after Emma's shocking death — and he reverts to some of his old coping mechanisms.

Eventually, his loved ones rally around him — including his father, his ex, Sylvie — and — in all three versions of One Day — Emma's ex, Ian.

In the book, Dexter receives a letter from Ian in which the latter laments the loss of Emma and remarks on how Dexter loomed over most of his own romance with Emma. Still, in it, Ian tells Dexter: "I want to urge you to not give up. Emma always loved you, very, very much."

The film's version of this interaction happens in person — Ian comes to visit Dexter's café on the anniversary of Emma's death. While he tells Dexter he used to hate him "quite violently," he too notes it was clear Emma "lit up with you."

"I didn't think that you deserved her," says Ian. "She made you decent, and then in return you made her so happy. . . . and I will always be grateful to you for that."

Series Ian again also appears in person, visiting Dexter with a group of people, including Tilly. He approaches Dexter one-on-one, and — like the other versions — admits his overall disdain for Dexter. "Emma, she loved you so much," he tells Dexter, echoing his recurring sentiment: "You made her so happy" and to "not give up."

<p>Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group</p> <em>One Day</em>

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

One Day

Dexter moves on with a new love interest after Emma's death in the book.

On screen, viewers don't witness Dexter find love again after the loss of Emma. But in the book, he does, in fact, get back out there.

In 2006, the book reveals that Dexter and his café manager, Maddy, have been dating for two months — which he describes as "gradual acceptance ... of an inevitable situation."

Dexter notes that Maddy is 10 years younger than him, but that she's "been through her own share of unhappiness." In One Day's final chapter, it is revealed the pair are still a couple in 2007.

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