Always and Forever Cast on Real-Life Friendships and Saying Goodbye
Based on the novels by Jenny Han, the Netflix original romantic dramedy franchise about Lara Jean Covey (Lana Condor) and her beloved Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo) concludes its trilogy with To All the Boys: Always and Forever, with the two preparing for the end of high school as they figure out what comes next. With graduation nearing and Lara Jean faced with figuring out whether she’s truly following her dreams or trying to make others happy, she’ll have to make important decisions that will ultimately change her life.
During a virtual junket to promote the final film in this popular series, co-stars Janel Parrish, Anna Cathcart and Madeleine Arthur talked about how playing their characters on day one compared to the final day of filming, the special sister bond, the best friend dynamic, shooting a prom and a wedding, what their characters might be doing in the future, and the mementos they got to take home from the set.
How did playing your character on the first day of the first movie compare to playing your character on your last day of this last movie?
PARRISH: Margot, in the first movie, is going through a crossroads of leaving her hometown to go away to college. She’s like, “I need to be a woman now and start my life.” And in the last movie, she’s very much helping Lara Jean figure out that same path of what’s in her future and what that means for her. It was really fun, on the last movie, to look at how far my character has come and to step into her shoes for the last time, seeing what she’s become.
CATHCART: In the first movie, Kitty is definitely just the little sister. She’s in middle school and she’s young, and she’s there to be the pesky little sister to Lara Jean. And in the third movie, you start to see her go onto her own path, where has her own small little romance and she’s going through these things. She has so many good role models in her life, with Margot and Lara Jean, and you definitely get to see Kitty grow up a bit. That was really special for me to experience, but also for fans to see.
ARTHUR: I feel like the first day, I was just stepping into those shoes, and by the last day, they were really comfortable and fully lived in shoes. It was really cool. I feel like that’s a really big gift, as an actor, to get to see from day one to movie three. I still get excited and can’t believe sometimes that we had the opportunity to not just make one and not just make two, but three movies.
And we didn’t have to wait a ton of time, in between films.
ARTHUR: Yeah, exactly. We filmed the second movie and the third movie back to back, and I really love this movie. It’s very uplifting and full of joy and an escape, which is needed right now. We really get to see the characters continue to grow and mature in this last chapter.
Aside from the obviously dreamy romance at the center of this, one of the things I love most about this story is the family relationship, specifically with these sisters. Janel and Anna, what is a favorite moment that you guys shared, either as a trio of characters or as a trio of actresses working together?
CATHCART: Yeah, we definitely feel like we’ve become sisters in real life. This bond is far past just on screen. All of the scenes where it was the three of us, are my favorite memories from all three of the movies. When we did that first scene, where she says, “Oh, I sent the letters,” and they chase each other around the room and it’s all chaotic, that’s such a good memory that I’m never, ever gonna forget. We were filming that late at night and we were all super giggly, and it was so much fun.
PARRISH: I love any scene with the sisters. We have some great family scenes, in this last film, that I think are so beautiful. Shooting in Korea is a memory that I’m never gonna forget. That was amazing.
What did you guys both like about father-daughter relationship and having John Corbett as your dad?
PARRISH: I was a huge Sex and the City fan, so the fact that my dad was Aidan took awhile to get used to. I was like, “I can’t believe it!” That was incredible. And he’s such a goofball. He definitely made us laugh, all the time on set.
CATHCART: Kitty’s relationship with their dad is so cute. When they’re playing chess, and random little things like that where it’s just them two, it’s so cute to see that dynamic and how they agree on things. That comes back in the third movie too, where we’re they’re on the same side. Their dynamic is so cute.
Madeleine, Chris is the best friend that everybody wants to have. Did you always know how fun-loving and carefree this character would be?
ARTHUR: Yeah, I did. I always knew that, and that was what was really fun. I’d never played a character like that before. I’d never done a comedy, or a romantic comedy. I’m a huge fan of the genre. It was really exciting, as an actor, to get to play this character who’s really comfortable in her own skin, really walks to the beat of her own drum, and is this carefree being. It was really, really cool.
Was it fun to also get your own romantic arc in the films?
ARTHUR: It was. It was so nice to see this new person walk into Chris’ life and to see how she took that, and to see Chris and Trevor as opposites who were attracted to each other. It was so fun to play with Ross [Butler]. We offer a lot of comedic moments, as characters, and their relationship is really fun and flirtatious. It was a different side of Chris that we hadn’t really seen before.
I love the friendship between Chris and Lara Jean and how supportive she is of her best friend. What do you love about their friendship and getting to see the journey they took?
ARTHUR: I loved getting to see how much it’s blossomed and how much they really lean on each other and are really open with each other. I think it’s so important and good to have a friend that you can really talk openly and freely with. To get to see them do even more things in the third movie and to connect on a level that we haven’t necessarily seen them connect before was super great, as an actor, to explore. Lana [Condor] is one of my best friends in the world, so to have her as a scene partner, she’s fantastic. It was a joy every day to come to set and get to play those characters.
Was it also important to you personally that Chris be a friend who encourages her friend to follow her dreams and not necessarily follow a guy?
ARTHUR: Absolutely. I think it’s so important to follow your dreams. You have to go after what you want, and everything else will fall into place. That’s exactly what Chris encourages Lara Jean to do, and I’m happy to have seen it play out like that.
Was there a favorite moment that you got to share with Lana Condor during the shooting of this last film, either in a scene you had together or just as friends?
ARTHUR: Yes, there were so many moments. When we were in New York, we picked up disposable cameras to document our time filming. Unfortunately, a lot of mine didn’t turn out very well, but that was really cool. Off set and on set, we were always getting food. That was a very, very big thing for us. Getting to really play with these characters, almost every day, we had these moments where, before a take, we would pretend to turn each other’s acting buttons on. We would poke our shoulders and go, “Okay, you’re on,” and we’d become Chris and Lara Jean. I’m gonna miss doing that, so hopefully one day we’ll get to do it again.
Janel and Anna, how much fun was it to get to have a wedding and be able to wear great bridesmaids outfits?
CATHCART: I love how Kitty insisted on wearing a tux because she knew what she wanted and she was like, “I’m gonna get this.” That was the best. The wedding was so much fun because it felt like a real party. It felt like a real wedding because we were dancing in this gorgeous tent that was all set up with all of these lights and pretty decorations. I actually felt like I was just dancing at a real wedding with my friends.
PARRISH: I can’t get over Henry the dog’s outfit and his little bow. We were just dying. He was so cute.
Madeleine, was there a scene in this film that you were most concerned about getting exactly right, and what did it feel like to shoot that moment?
ARTHUR: Honestly, the dance circle at prom. It was done in one take and I actually fell, but it worked. With all of the people on set and getting into the dance circle, it so much fun. We had some really good dancers on it and I dance, all the time. My friends and I have this Club Zoom thing right now where we just get on and dance. But that was the most nerve-wracking for me personally, in the really high heels.
Because these films leave in a place where it feels like life is continuing on for all of these characters, what do you think your characters might be doing, in five or 10 years from now?
CATHCART: That’s so fun to think about because Kitty would be going to high school, and then she’d be going to college, and she might be dealing with relationships and going through some more things like both of her sisters have. That is so fun to think about. I also think, with both sisters away at school, so it would just be her at home with Trina and Dr. Covey.
PARRISH: I’d like to think Margot goes on to become a professor somewhere and she has a really handsome husband or boyfriend with an accent.
ARTHUR: I have thought about it and I feel like Chris will travel a lot. I feel like travel is in her future for a little while. She’s always wearing band tees. She’s very inspired and influenced by music. She could end up in the music industry in some place. Ross and I were talking and said, “Maybe Chris owns a coffee shops or multiple coffee shops.” That could be a thing, too. I feel like whatever she does, it’ll be unexpected and very unique to Chris. But I think she’s definitely gonna take some time to explore the world.
Were these characters hard to say goodbye to? Did it feel like you were leaving a friend behind?
PARRISH: Yeah. I feel like we know our characters so well, and it’s sad to think that we won’t be playing them anymore.
CATHCART: It’s cool though because even though we don’t get to play them again, they’re still with us. Just like how the fans can rewatch these movies, we can rewatch them, go back into that world and revisit it and see all of the memories, and look at our photos and stuff like that. It’s cool that we’ll always have that piece of us.
Did you guys get to keep any mementos for your characters? Anna, did you get to keep the Feminist necklace?
CATHCART: Yes, I actually did get to keep my necklace, which was really exciting. That has become such a part of Kitty and I think it sums her up and represents her so well. It’s in my jewelry box in my bedroom. It’s very special to me.
PARRISH: We all got to keep our chair backs that say To All the Boys and our character names on it. I have mine on display in my living room. I love them so much.
Even though these characters existed in books before you signed on to play them, did you guys feel a sense of ownership with them, after three films?
CATHCART: Yeah, especially by the third movie, we’ve been with these characters for so long now that you understand their instincts. I would read something and be like, “Oh, I have an idea of what Kitty could say here,” or “She would do this,” because I would what Kitty would be doing or thinking. It’s so cool to get to know a character so well and get to have those ideas, and then actually portray them.
PARRISH: Our director, Michael [Fimognari] was so great at coming over and being collaborative and being like, “What do you think you could say and how do you think you’d react in this scene?” He really worked with us on how we felt our characters would react, which was so great.
Now that these films have finished, how much has it really sort of meant to you to be a part of telling this story and to hear the fan reaction to these films?
PARRISH: It’s amazing. We feel so grateful. We’re so lucky that our fan base has been so wonderful and receptive to these movies. It’s so exciting and it just honestly makes us feel so lucky.
CATHCART: So many people feel represented in these movies and they also relate to the little storylines that happen with all the different characters. Getting to see the impact that it’s had on people is always so special.
Madeleine, you’ve gotten to be a part of some fun shows, with The Magicians and Snowpiercer. Do you enjoy being a part of that type of hybrid fantastical world?
ARTHUR: I do. I love being on those shows so much. The Magicians plays with so many different elements. I loved playing Fray. All of the actors on that show are fantastic. It was the same with Snowpiercer. The fun part about being an actor is playing different characters from different walks of life and that cross all genres. Those were two shows that I really, really enjoyed being a part of.
To All the Boys: Always and Forever is available to stream at Netflix.
The film co-stars Rebecca Ferguson and Thandie Newton.
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