Anna Cathcart was in Grade 8 when she first joined To All The Boys, the incredibly popular film series inspired by Jenny Han’s bestselling novel. “Now I’m graduating high school! It’s so weird,” she tells me on a Zoom call from her home in Vancouver.
The first film in the trilogy, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, released in 2018 to great acclaim. But no one could have imagined how enormous the fan base would grow. Anna, for instance, who plays Kitty, the quirky and empathetic younger sister to Lara Jean (Lana Condor), is only 17 years old and has an Instagram following of 3 million. “It’s wild to think about the whole journey!” says Anna, with a wide smile and sparkling eyes.
I had the joy of chatting with her and Canadian co-star Madeleine Arthur (Chris) in advance of the release for To All The Boys: Always and Forever, the final film in the series, that launched on Netflix February 12. It was a conversation that brought me as much joy as the film itself.
There are so many reasons why this series is overflowing with good feelings, from the vibrant art direction that includes sets and wardrobe in the brightest happy colours to the sweet romance of Lara Jean and Peter (Noah Centineo), that is the perfect mix of awkward and cute, but TATB goes deeper than that.
There is trauma and grief from the death of a parent, family life is refreshingly modern and relatable, and the kids deal with real-life challenges—from academic pressures to peer pressures on social media. But even with the difficult subject matter that is tackled, the series is undeniably feel good.
“It makes you feel happy and warm inside and it’s something you want to watch when you’re curled up in your blankets. It puts a smile on your face, even if you’re going through something it the world is in the state that it is—it brings comfort,” says Anna, on why she thinks the series has soared.
Madeleine agrees, but adds that the realistic way that the film handles teenage stress has also resonated deeply with fans. “In high school, you’re all trying to figure out what your next steps are and it can be a really confusing and challenging time. I think it’s wonderful that the movie touches on figuring out who you are, and communicating where you want to go in your life. It’s really terrific, especially for the younger generation to have a movie that talks about these things because everyone is going through it.”