In To All The Boys: Always and Forever, the final installment of Netflix’s hit YA romance trilogy, high school senior Lara Jean Song-Covey (Lana Condor) is devastated to hear she didn’t get into her top choice for college, Stanford University.
For Condor, 23, and all working actors not in the top .01 percent echelon of their profession, rejection is a routine part of the business. As Oscar winner Brie Larson once told us, she failed “99 percent” of the time before the success of the indie thriller Room elevated her to lead Marvel status. And Condor missed out on a biggie of her own.
“I was down to the last two of the last three [people] for Star Wars,” Condor tells us in a new interview (watch above), recalling how she was a finalist for the role of Rose Tico in 2017’s The Last Jedi, which went to Kelly Marie Tran instead.
“She got it, and it makes so much more sense for her to play it,” Condor says. “I read with John Boyega. I did all the reads and the chemistry [tests] and the director [meetings]. That one was brutal just because it’s Star Wars.”
And though she didn’t name the show, Condor also recalls getting cut from a television series at the 11th hour. “They recast me at the last minute with somebody else,” she reveals. “That was heartbreaking. And it’s very hard not to think that it’s because of you and not because of something else. It’s very hard not to go, ‘It’s because I suck.’”
In 2017, Condor (X-Men: First Class, Deadly Class, Alita: Battle Angel) was cast as the lovelorn Portland teen Lara Jean in what was originally an independently produced film adaptation of Jenny Han’s popular novel To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. The movie was soon picked up by Netflix, where upon its premiere instantly became one of the streaming giant’s most viewed original titles. Greenlights were quickly given to sequels To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You (2020) and this month’s climactic To All the Boys: Always and Forever.
The films have been successful in large part due to the winning performances of the magnetic Condor, who picked up a massive fanbase in the process. She did not land in Star Wars — at least not yet — but she did end up headlining her own hit trilogy.
“If I had gotten those, I would’ve never been able to do To All the Boys,” Condor says of the projects she missed on. “So I think everything does happen for a reason.
“If the door closes, it stinks, but I do believe something better will come along.”
To All the Boys: Always and Forever premieres Friday, Feb. 12 on Netflix.
— Video produced by Jon San and edited by Jason Fitzpatrick
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