Q&A With ‘To All The Boys’ Director Michael Fimognari
One of the best teen movie series is coming to a close. Yes, it’s time to say goodbye to Lara Jean and the rest of the characters of Netflix‘s To All The Boys.
The director of the To All The Boys movies, Michael Fimognari, talks about where we pick up at the start of Always and Forever when it comes to Lara Jean and Peter, ending the hugely popular series, what his favourite moments were and what to expect in the final movie…
Where do we find our favourite couple from Adler High at the start of the film, and what are some of the things we can anticipate for them in the final instalment of this beloved series?
In the third film, Lara Jean and Peter are in their senior year and planning a future after high school together. They know who they are and what they want their relationship to be, but now they’re stepping into young adulthood and need to confront other challenging parts of their lives — and along the way they learn that maybe their needs don’t connect with their relationship goals. Lara Jean’s sparked by the potential of living in New York City while Peter is grappling with the strained relationship with his dad. They’re not worried about how much they love each other or how much they want to be together, it’s whether or not their personal needs can be met in the relationship.
What were your storytelling goals in this film? How did you aim to portray those big moments while still keeping it light and fun?
The To All the Boys universe exists in a heightened version of reality, combining character truth with a vibrant, controlled visual design. At the heart of it — what grounds all of it — is that our characters want the things we all want: To love and be loved, and to follow our dreams.
Each film represents an act in the larger story. The first film was about a fake relationship that ends as a happily-ever-after wish fulfillment, so the behavior and visual style had more fantasy. P.S. I Still Love You was the second act where our characters were more vulnerable and flawed. It was about the tough parts of being in a real relationship and how to communicate through messy complications and deceits. It’s still playful but with greater consequences.
Always and Forever is about Lara Jean listening to herself, being decisive, trusting her choices, and communicating those choices to Peter. It continues the great music, kinetic movement, and all the things that make it a vibrant To All the Boys world. Lara Jean, as the center of that universe, is maturing as she experiences it, and the cinematic expression matures with her. There is less fantasy in favor of more exhilarating real-life adventures like being with her sisters in Seoul or running around New York City with Chris.
You’ve been with the series since the very beginning. What’s it been like to watch these young actors come into their own these last couple of years?
They really are incredible. One very clear memory I have of making the first film was walking away and feeling like I just worked with two very special people. It was something we talked about on set, too. Every day Lana and Noah were in the room together, they were magic. At that time, we didn’t know how big this would get. We feel like family. When we enter these spaces we built — the homes and high school — it feels like it’s our high school, it feels like it’s our living room. Being with them feels like settling into a relationship you’ve had for a long time.
It’s the same with the entire cast. What’s terrific about them is that they have these shared experiences, and trust each other so much, that when they get into a scene, they make it better so fast. When we were rehearsing, we spent most of the time talking about the characters, and then just running the lines we’d discover special additions that comes from them being great at what they do, and a lot of that was brought into the film. I’m humbled and honored to have been there from the first day of the first movie to the last day of the last movie. I’m very grateful and more than a little sad that it’s finished.
For those who aren’t familiar with Jenny Han’s books, can you tell us what we can expect to see in Lara Jean Covey’s evolution and personal journey in this new film?
There was a lot of talk last year about Team Peter and Team John, but really it was about Lara Jean coming into clarity about who and what was good for her. It was about Lara Jean trusting her inner voice about who she loved, as complicated as that might be.
In A lways and Forever, Lara Jean elevates her personal investigation beyond love. Now she’s making choices about college and freeing herself from the notion that her happiness is linked to Peter. She’s created expectations that by going to college with Peter, she can then have a fantasy life: get married,
have children, get a dream job. But really what Lara Jean has to do — the journey she takes in this third film — is learn to choose for herself.
Why is a film like this, one that celebrates love and life, so important for viewers to have right now?
When we made Always and Forever, we were able to travel the world and create events like prom, graduation, weddings. We went to New York and Seoul, rode subways and roamed the cities at will. It was a celebration of all the things that we can’t do as easily right now.
What makes this so important now is that Always and Forever has become an unintentional love letter to so many people who’ve had to give those things up — who’ve had to postpone their weddings, sacrifice their proms and graduation celebrations. We want people to feel that joy of graduation, to go to a rooftop party in New York, and maybe give them a chance to laugh and smile and cry for a bit about the way life used to be, and the way it will hopefully be again soon.
Michael Fimognari did such a fantastic job on To All The Boys, perhaps he could try adapting one of these books next?