When the high school romantic comedy “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” debuted on Netflix in 2018, the adaptation of Jenny Han’s YA best-seller was a groundbreaking benchmark for representation, casting Asian American actor Lana Condor (“X-Men: Apocalypse”) as Lara Jean, who wins the heart of class heartthrob Peter (Noah Centineo). The film was such a sensation that Condor shot the sequels back to back. The first of them — “To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You,” debuting Feb. 12 — finds Lara Jean plunged into a love triangle between Peter and an old crush, John (Jordan Fisher). It’s a dilemma that Condor herself has had difficulty resolving.
When did you really understand how much of a phenomenon “To All the Boys” had become?
Maybe like, gosh, two weeks after the movie came out. I had mothers coming up to me and telling me how much they loved watching the movie with their daughters and how they could see what they were like when they were in high school.
What are the most common things that people say to you about it?
A lot of people have said it was one of the first times they felt seen or represented in a movie. I get a lot of people saying that they want to be Lara Jean’s best friend. I mean, I agree. I would love to be her best friend too. I think she’s really sweet. For the sequel, I get: “Are you Team Peter or Team John?” Always get that question.
So how do you answer?
I typically say I hate that question because it’s such a difficult one! [Laughs] Last night, there was an advanced screening, and I watched the movie because I wanted to hear the audience’s reactions in the theater. Typically, when one of the boys was on screen, it was just shrieks and screams. It kind of swayed me toward John. But I think that Peter is a guy that you date and John is the guy that you marry, for sure.
That must be such a fun thing, to experience a Netflix movie in a theater with an audience.
Totally! Yes, yes! They were so incredibly vocal, and it was so cool. You know what was the best part, though? Hearing the way that they gasped and awwwed at Lara Jean. To hear them vocally care about her, it’s just one of the greatest experiences of my life. Because, you know, with Netflix, you get the pleasure of watching it whenever you want at home or wherever, but you don’t get to see an audience’s reaction. So that was really, really cool.
Noah Centineo has become Netflix’s go-to romantic-comedy leading man. What kind of parts have you been seeing?
Yeah, listen, I did the first [“To All the Boys”], and then I shot a television show [“Deadly Class”], which took up a huge part of my time, and then I went right into two and three. So my actual availability hasn’t been good. But now that I’m available, ironically, I’m seeing a lot of more dramatic, serious, intense roles come my way, which is funny because they’re so opposite to Lara Jean.
Are there any kind of roles that you’ve been dying to play?
I would love to play Sandra Oh’s daughter. I’ve been trying to manifest this for a while now.
Have you had a chance to meet her?
Oh man, I have not, but I’m going to believe it will happen!
Things You Didn’t Know About Lana Condor
Age: 22 Birthplace: Can Tho, Vietnam FAMILY TIME: Adopted by an American couple CHARITABLE CAUSE: Founded a scholarship with The Asia Foundation in 2018 to put girls from her birth city through four years of high school