Madeleine Arthur Knows The Secrets Of The To All The Boys Sequels. These Are The Ones She Can Tell You
“I am going to get this a lot,” Madeleine Arthur laughs while preparing to take a pause. The question at hand is whether the To All The Boys: P.S. I Still Love You star — who plays Chris, best friend to heroine Lara Jean Covey (Lana Condor) — is Team Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo, of meteoric internet boyfriend rise) or Team John Ambrose McClaren (Boys newcomer Jordan Fisher). The overarching mystery of Netflix’s To All The Boys 2, premiering February 12, is where Lara Jean herself falls on the subject.
So, yes, Arthur really is going to get this question a lot.
“I have no comment,” the 22-year-old decides, playfully taking in her surroundings during a mid-January visit to Refinery29’s L.A. offices. “That is for you to decide.”
When the original To All The Boys film came out on Netflix in August 2018, it was impossible to imagine Arthur avoiding talking about her on-screen BFF’s love life. Chris may have stood out as the best version of the modern teen rom-com best friend, but she, like everyone else in To All the Boys I've Loved Before was a well-dressed cog in Lara Jean’s love story. Going into I Still Love You, all we really know about Chris is that she’s the quirky independent queen of Adler High, who is prone to wearing great hats, bantering with Lara Jean’s dad Daniel (Sex and the City heartthrob John Corbett), and sparring with her queen bee cousin Gen (Emilija Baranac).
Not any more.
Chris has her own journey come P.S. I Still Love You — and even more in store with the mysterious upcoming finale of the Boys trilogy, Always and Forever, Lara Jean. The threequel doesn’t have an official release date yet, but IMDb does suggest we can expect the triology’s conclusion sometime in 2020. That means Arthur — who also appears in TNT’s top-secret Snowpiercer adaptation, debuting this summer — now has her own secrets to spill.
“There are tons of ad-libs in the movies,” Arthur tells Refinery29 while thinking back on filming I Still Love You and Lara Jean, which were shot back-to-back over about four months total. One particular bit of improv brings a large smile to Arthur’s face. Eventually she reveals she is recalling the moment in I Still Love You when her character Chris materializes next to a tree house for an integral group scene. Chris approaches the shot from a large body of water and is wielding a huge shovel.
“It’s like, Is she a swamp woman? Who is she? So it became this running joke that Chris had just buried a dead body,” Arthur says of the attitude on set before filming of the scene even began. So, when she was asked what was going on once cameras were rolling, that was her improv response. To this day, Arthur isn’t even quite sure where her character truly was coming from. But considering just how “fun-loving” Arthur says her character is, would anyone be surprised if Chris found swamp digging to be a delightful hobby?
The thing I’m most grateful for is that I had the gift to work with Lana Condor.
What we do know is that Chris quickly throws in that Trevor will be the “next” body she buries. It’s not a threat — it’s a gleeful flirtation. Chris and Trevor are the stars of I Still Love You’s cutest, most casual romance; a welcome distraction from Lara Jean’s sometimes frustrating love triangle.
All it takes is a very special Subway sandwich-related scene in the first act of the movie to see how lovable Chris and Trevor can be. “It’s when the audience first discovers that Chris and Trevor have a spark, and it happens to take place on Valentine’s Day!” Arthur writes in an email days ahead of the I Still Love You's premiere. “The footage was initially longer, showing Trevor giving Chris a rose and her making a comment about getting his favourite pizza sub for him, all making it a romantic secret rendezvous.”
The pair also has an endearingly goofy whipped cream-related moment that is — you guessed it — totally improvised. “Ross and I came up with the idea on the day and ad-libbed the scene,” Arthur explains. “The playfulness of the moment feels very in line with their vibe as a pair.”
Although Arthur is starting to feel free enough to chat about her much-anticipated Netflix rom-com, she is still trying extra hard not to spill too much about her other major 2020 release, Snowpiercer. The project is a made-for-TV adaptation of 2020 Oscar darling Bong Joon-Ho’s cult favourite 2013 dystopian epic of the same name, a study in class tension akin to Parasite.
“The sets on that show were just so…” she says back in the Refinery29 office, still overwhelmed by the Vancouver production’s grandeur. Like the initial film that starred Chris Evans, TNT’s Daveed Diggs-led Showpiercer, premiering May 31, is about a never-ending train ride carrying the last remnants of humanity. Inside, the train houses both slums and pleasure palaces. Outside, the world is a frozen tundra waiting to turn any human body into an icicle.
“They created this whole world of Snowpiercer on these train sets,” Arthur explains, adding she bound to legal secrecy on her character, who is named Nicolette “Nikki” Genêt according to IMDb. At least Arthur can confirm one fact about her time on Snowpiercer: She was able to stay clear of the nightmarish bug blocks of food that the 2013 film is famous for introducing into our grossed-out public consciousness.
“Yeah… I luckily avoided that nightmare,” Arthur says. “They say bugs are a good source of protein and fiber. But…”
While Arthur isn’t exactly lining up to eat creepy crawlies, she lights up when talking about other foods. She marks her time filming the final To All The Boys movie by New York City pizza — at least some of Lara Jean is set in the Big Apple — and the cast’s time shooting from their homebase in Vancouver with group sushi outings. Outside of her Jenny Han-related obligations, Arthur raves about the desserts of Portugal, where she lived for six weeks while filming “psychedelic and mystical” sci-fi film Color Out of Space co-starring Nicholas Cage. The H.P. Lovecraft-inspired movie had a limited release in January. Before Arthur, a Vancouver native, was heading to “peng lunch” with the Boys crew or enjoying Portuguese pastel de nata outside of Lisbon, she had been steadily working since 2011. Arthur started out with guest parts in shows like AMC’s The Killing, before graduating to a recurring roles in the CW’s Tomorrow People and Syfy’s The Magicians, along with a featured part in 2014 Oscar-bait Big Eyes.
That may be why Arthur seems most excited when she talks about following Chris from one Twitter-breaking film into a full, initially unplanned trilogy (“No one expected the movie to have the meteoric rise that it’s had”). It’s impossible to ignore Arthur’s grin when she brings up Boys’ upcoming threequel, Always and Forever, Lara Jean.
“In the third movie, I was so pleased with how they developed Chris, and I feel like she really gets to flourish,” Arthur explains. “I specifically love how they bring her and Lara Jean’s friendship to this level that we haven’t really seen them connect at before.”
The actress can’t help but gush about crafting a three-movie friendship with her pal, leading lady Lana Condor. “Over the course of the next two movies, we really get to see Chris and Lara Jean grow together as friends,” Arthur continues. “I’m so grateful for so much from To All the Boys — but the thing I’m most grateful for is that I had the gift to work with Lana and to become amazing friends throughout the course of filming the three movies.”
So what does Arthur hope to see for Lara Jean and Chris as they head off into the post-high school sunset with Forever Lara Jean? Again, Arthur is forced into her cone all secrecy. All she can promise is: “It’s so unequivocally Chris! It really is!”