When Lana Condor discovered that a new suitor would complicate the love life of her heroine Lara Jean Song Covey, from “All the boys I've loved before”, she sent a message to YA author Jenny Han, in whose books the Netflix films are based: "Why would you do this to me?"
Lara Jean had already resolved a confused tangle of emotions in the first film, based on Han's bestseller in 2014, in which the teenage heroine discovers that private love letters have been sent to five of her former passions.
One of them, the gregarious athlete Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo), outlines a plan to pretend that they are a couple who ends up with them – spoiler alert for those who have never seen a rom-com – falling in love.
But in "For All the Boys: PS I still love you," the second of three films based on the books, things get more complicated when Lara Jean navigates her first relationship. Then the final recipient of her letters enters the picture: John Ambrose McClaren, the sensitive and learned boy of his dreams – at least on paper.
Lana Condor plays Lara Jean Song Covey in the series "For all the boys I've loved before" and "For all the boys: P.S. I still love you", based on Jenny Han's best-selling YA novels.
(Béatrice de Géa / For The Times)
"The question 'What team are you on?' Keeps me up at night because I don't know overnight," said Condor during a recent stop in Los Angeles, where billboards are not far away. soared above Sunset Boulevard, playing the dilemma #TeamPeter vs. #TeamJohn.
During the selection process for the first film, she said, she knew instantly that they found Peter Kavinsky while reading with Centineo. (His spark on the screen turned the two actors into social media superstars overnight.)
The same happened after an exhaustive search for John Ambrose, when Jordan Fisher, who is currently starring on Broadway in "Dear Evan Hansen", went in for a chemistry reading.
The character was briefly represented by actor Jordan Burtchett in a sequence of credits in the first film. But in "P.S. I still love you," directed by Michael Fimognari, it would be a central role.
The filmmakers rework John Ambrose with the multi-ethnic Fisher, actor and singer whose credits include "The Secret Life of the American Teenager", "Dancing with the Stars", "Grease Live!" and 2019 "Rent: Live"
In many ways, John Ambrose is not a typical love interest in teen films, Fisher said. "He is sophisticated and intentional, super kind, warm and caring – and a person of color."
Through all her relationships, romantic or not, Lara Jean learns to listen to herself, not to the fantasies idealized in her head, extracted from novels and films. "The whole reason I wrote (& # 39; P.S. I still love you & # 39;) was for the character of John Ambrose McLaren," said Han.
Their dynamics bring a wave of confusion to Lara Jean's young life, but also the strength to discover what she really wants.
"When Lara Jean and John Ambrose are together, there is more movement, it is more colorful," said Condor. “She was a little more free. When you're with Peter, it's really intimate and quiet, because that's where you see the beauty of their relationship. ”
The question "Which team are you on?" Keeps me up at night.
Readers of "To All the Boys" may be surprised at how the film version of John Ambrose deviates from the novel. Her ties to Stormy (Holland Taylor), the nursing home mentor who gives advice to Lara Jean, for example, are absent in the script by Sofia Alvarez and J. Mills Goodloe.
"I wanted the spirit of Lara Jean's experience to remain true," said Han. "As an author, I really feel that they are two different mediums and I understand that things change from book to screen. While the feeling was the same, the heart, that was what I wanted. And I think that is true."
A third film based on Han's trilogy, "Always and Forever, Lara Jean", was shot consecutively in the second part and will see Lara Jean struggling with her post-high school future. For Han, the character's journey is more than just a fantasy, which is why she threw the John Ambrose key into Lara Jean's life.
"For me, it represents how much of life is about time and closeness," said Han. "He's the & # 39; what if? & # 39; If he never moved back to high school, they probably would have met, and it wouldn't be her and Peter. The way life can end, you never know what might happen. There are many different ways in your life to go the right way. ”
Fisher agreed. And he knows that fans of "To All the Boys" will have feelings about who wins Lara Jean's heart.
"Time is everything, and this is something that I hope the public will take away from it," he said. "We are 99.9% out of control of time, and that's fine. It is okay to submit to time and recognize that we cannot fully control it," he said.
The franchise's popularity inadvertently made Han and Condor seem like life coaches to some fans, but both emphasize that they don't necessarily have the right answers.
"People think I'm an expert on love or a relationship guru because of these films and books," said Condor. “People think I have all the love answers. I try to help them, but I like it, I do not know. This is a big responsibility! "
"I just want everyone to be safe, especially with young people," said Han. The takeaway? Don't think of it as a matter of #TeamPeter or #TeamJohn – but #TeamLaraJean.
"Too many questions arise like 'How do I break up with my boyfriend?' And I say, I don't know! I need context! Said Condor with a smile." Make good choices, everyone. "