Nobody can find Lana Condor. It’s Dec. 19, 2018, four months since To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before was released, and Netflix just announced that the sequel is a go. But Condor, the film’s star, has no idea because she’s somewhere in Africa without cell service. “I was an ambassador for Our Planet, the Netflix series, and the [To All The Boys] press release came out when I was in Africa,” Condor remembers. “I woke up at like 6 a.m. with the sun and walked to meet one of the Netflix reps in a safari truck and she was like ‘Lana, the sequel is happening!’” The news, as exciting as it was, wasn’t much of a surprise considering the first film’s popularity — if it were a high schooler, it would be a (nice) Regina George — and the fact that it was based on Jenny Han’s book trilogy.
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before introduced viewers to Lara Jean, the romance novel-obsessed teen whose innermost thoughts were made public when her younger sister, Kitty (Anna Cathcart), mailed out five secret love letters she’d written to various boys in her life. If that weren’t dramatic enough, one of them was addressed to her current crush, Josh (Israel Broussard), who just so happened to be her older sister Margot’s (Janel Parrish) boyfriend. So it’s no wonder why she agreed to enter into a fake relationship with Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo), another letter recipient, in order to make both his ex and her crush jealous. But a few high school parties, a ski trip, and precisely one pocket spin later, Lara Jean and Peter couldn’t deny their chemistry. And neither could audiences.
In October of 2018, Netflix revealed To All The Boys was “one of its most-viewed original films ever” in its first two months, with stars Condor and Centineo growing their Instagram following by 5 and 13 million, respectively. (More than a year later, Condor currently has 8 million followers while Centineo has more than 17 million.) As the film’s popularity grew, audiences had one question: What comes next? And now, we finally have the answer: Lara Jean’s going to drive Peter’s Jeep!
It’s May on the Vancouver set of To All The Boys: P.S. I Still Love You, and Lara Jean and Peter are all dolled up. She’s the picture of high school innocence in a red dress, polka dot tights, and sparkly heels, and Peter’s ditched his lacrosse jersey for a sweater. (That counts as dressing up for him.) The occasion? Their first date. Because despite the fact that they’ve shared meals, met each other’s families, and oh yeah, made out in a hot tub, they’ve never been on a real date. But that all changes when the sequel picks up. “Peter Kavinsky takes her to dinner,” Noah Centineo says of the occasion. “And then the agreement is that she then takes me on a special adventure as well.” Hence her driving his Jeep — she’s taking him to a Japanese lantern festival, where the newly official couple write their initials on a lantern and send it off into the night sky in the hopes that their love will soar right along with it. Then, in a moment that embodies the naïveté that makes this love story so sweet, they promise not to break each other’s hearts.
But this isn’t happily ever after. Rather, this is what comes after the happily ever after. This is the hard part. “This film is the part of the story that you don’t often get to see in movies, which is what happens after the couple gets together,” author Jenny Han says. “P.S. I Still Love You is about the reality of really loving somebody and not just falling in love with somebody.” The film’s director, Michael Fimognari, adds, “The first movie is very much the kick-off of this journey. The second one is Lara Jean and Peter’s first real test.” And that test has a name: John Ambrose McClaren (Jordan Fisher).
Just as Lara Jean and Peter make things official, John, another love letter recipient, returns to town. And since Lara Jean last saw him in middle school, the Model UN student has only gotten dreamier — he’s replaced his stutter with an understated confidence (and some seriously impressive piano skills). “I jokingly, not jokingly say that John Ambrose is daddy,” Jordan Fisher says with a laugh, sitting down to coffee the day after he’s wrapped filming in Vancouver. “He moves away, loses the stutter, gets a little wiser and a little cooler and comes back as, like, that guy in the corner at a speakeasy with a leather-bound book and horn-rimmed glasses sipping a cocktail.”
He’d have to be pretty cool to distract Lara Jean (and audiences) from Kavinsky, the kind-hearted jock who can make viewers swoon with a simple whoa whoa whoa. “This guy’s got to compete with not just Peter Kavinsky but Noah Centineo’s Peter Kavinsky,” Fisher says, well aware of the task that was presented to him. “He’s the internet’s boyfriend! He’s every girl’s dream guy.” But is he Lara Jean’s dream guy? That’s the question that drives her to the kitchen for some classic Covey stress-baking. “John was special to her in the past, and they both still feel like there’s something there,” Fimognari says. And it helps when they have a lot in common. “[John] is kind of like the male version of Lara Jean,” Condor says. “Everything she loves, he loves.”
So what will it be: Peanut butter-chocolate chip cupcakes or salted caramel? John Ambrose or Peter? Only Lara Jean can say, but rest assured that the sequel presents audiences with the same vibrant, bubbly take on young love that the first film delivered. “We need lighthearted, good, warm films right now, just for humanity in general,” Fisher says. We also need on-screen representation. Lara Jean is a Korean-American character played by Condor, a Vietnamese-American actor, a fact that garnered the first film praise as one of very few romantic comedies with an Asian American female in the lead role. And before that, Han, a Korean-American herself, says, “The first book came out in 2014 and was the first young adult book to have an Asian person on the cover on the New York Times Bestseller List.” Cut to Halloween after the film’s release, and suddenly girls were dressing up as Lara Jean. “There’s a little something in the first book about how Lara Jean never has anything to dress up as for Halloween, and that’s something from my life,” Han says. “So it’s cool to see all these young Asian American women own the moment.”
It’s something that really struck Condor while filming one scene in particular in the sequel. “There’s a scene where Lara Jean is in this beautiful, almost Cinderella gown and she walks down the stairs to Johnny Ambrose,” Condor says. “I was waiting on top of the stairs right before we started rolling and it hit me all at once how special that moment was because we don’t get Cinderella moments a lot. As a young girl, I never got to see a Cinderella moment where the girl looked like me. This is the most important part of the story for me is being able to represent our community. It’s creating a space for Asian Americans to tell their story and have a moment.”
But P.S. I Still Love You isn’t just a moment. It’s the second installment in a trilogy with the third film, To All The Boys: Always and Forever, Lara Jean, already filmed. Because no matter which guy she chooses, Lara Jean’s Cinderella moment is only just beginning.
Set Design: Abraham Latham/Art Department; Styling: Philippe Uter/The Only Agency; Condor’s Makeup: Anton Khachaturian/Tarte Cosmetics/Cloutier Remix; Hair: Kat Thompson/Tomlinson Management Group; Manicure: Lisa Peña Wong/Opus Beauty; (Cover) Top: Esse Vie London; Pants: Rag and Bone; Shoes: Sam Edelman; Earrings: Alexis Bittar; (Red Set) Dress: House of CB; Shoes: Giuseppe Zanotti; Earrings: Alexis Bittar; Rings: Noä, Alex Mika; (Blue Set) Dress: Nookie; Shoes: Pollice Lee Italia; Earrings: Alex Mika; Rings: Prakshi Sharma, Noä; Centineo’s Grooming: Sunnie Brook/Forward Artists; (Cover) Polo: COS; Pants: Dunhill; Shoes: Aquatalia; (Red Set) Suit: Suit Supply; Shirt: Ermenegilgo Zegna; Shoes: Kenneth Cole; Fisher’s Grooming: Michelle Harvey/Chanel Les Beiges and Oribe/Opus Beauty; (Cover) Shirt: All Saints; Jacket: COS; Pants: Les Hommes; Shoes: Kurt Geiger; (Blue Set) Sweater: Suit Supply; Jacket: Les Hommes; Pants: Joseph Abboud; Shoes: Thursday Boots