Four days after Netflix released To All the Boys I’ve Ever Loved Before in 2018, someone – whose identity is still unclear – leaked its star’s phone number online. “I woke up to hundreds of phone calls and texts from random people,” says Lana Condor. She was then 20; it was her first leading role. “At that moment, I kind of realised that people were watching it.”
To All the Boys was an instant smash. Netflix described it as one of its most-watched original films to date, with – significantly – “strong repeat viewings”. A new teen power-couple were born: Lara Jean Covey (Condor) and Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo), whose faux-mance starts to hint at the real thing.
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Condor – who already had a handful of film credits to her name, including 2016’s X Men: Apocalypse – saw her Instagram numbers jump from around 100,000 to 5 million (they are now nearly double that). Centineo, meanwhile, became a heartthrob, spoken about in the same pant as Harry Styles and Timothée Chalamet. Last week in Manhattan, fans queued for five hours to see a screening of the sequel, which is out now. A third instalment has already been shot, with a more ambitious set-up taking in Vancouver, New York and Seoul.
Adapted from Jenny Han’s hit young-adult trilogy and evoking the likes of 10 Things I Hate About You and Clueless, To All the Boys embraces romance and an air of mayhem, without trying too hard to dismantle the cliches. It is safe and sweet rather than energetically sassy. What might, superficially, seem like low stakes – why has my boyfriend given his ex my scrunchie? – are treated seriously. To All the Boys, says Condor, is about “good characters, who have good hearts”. The world, she says, can be “pretty dark and scary...
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