Lana Condor knows how to use her words. “I do a lot of journaling,” the actress tells Us. “When I have a lot of emotion going on, I’ll write. I write letters to my family, my boyfriend, anyone I’m trying to get my point across to. It’s easier for me to express myself.”
It’s the same therapy used by her character Lara Jean. In the Netflix rom-com To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before — based on Jenny Han’s bestseller — the 16-year-old pens unrequited love notes to five of her crushes. But her life takes a complicated turn when the letters are accidentally mailed out.
The part was, essentially, made for Condor. “About two years ago, Jenny posted a picture of me on Instagram saying, ‘I’m so happy to see young Asian women kicking it in Hollywood,’” the 21-year-old recalls. “After I had been cast, I was talking to Jenny about that and she said, ‘I was trying to start the conversation and put it in people’s minds that you would be great as Lara Jean!’ So I knew of the book two years before I even auditioned and read it.”
Condor, dating fellow actor Anthony de la Torre, gets personal with Us.
Us Weekly: In high school, how were you similar to Lara Jean?
Lana Condor: Of course, I had hundreds of crushes on boys! And our humor is similar. It’s understated. I don’t think people think i’m funny, but in my head I’m like, “I am!” But I’m a little more fiery. When she gets bullied, she just takes it. I’d be like, “Shut your mouth!”
Us: Favorite memory from filming?
LC: I loved working with Janel Parrish and Anna Cathcart. I’ve always wanted to have sisters and they play mine in the movie, so I lost myself in the fantasy. I felt like they were actually my real sisters and that was really beautiful.
Us: Do you remember your first crush?
LC: His name was Andy. In middle school, I had him whipped. I’d be like, “Go get me milk!” He was the first boy I ever held hands with and that was a huge deal. My palms were sweating and I was like, “Oh, my God! I’m holding hands with a boy!”
Us: Is it uncomfortable for your boyfriend to watch you have so many onscreen loves?
LC: It’s definitely been weird for him, but he’s very supportive. As actors, it’s been a learning curve as to how to navigate that world when we have romantic costars. If anything, if a girl flirts with him, I’m like, “Get it! He’s cute!”
Us: What’s the most romantic thing he does?
LC: He writes me love letters, actually! He’s done that since we started dating and I keep them all. We try to keep the spark alive!
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before begins streaming on Netflix Friday, August 17.
With reporting by Carly Sloane