Big life changes are on the way for Jordan Fisher, the 25-year-old actor stepping in to steal Lara Jean Covey (Lana Condor) from the internet's boyfriend Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo) in To All the Boys: P.S. I Love You. Out Feb. 12, the film is the sequel to Netflix's hit teen rom-com To All the Boys I Loved Before, based on Jenny Han's YA novels of the same name .
Released in 2018, To All the Boys I've Loved Before was praised by both audiences and critics for bringing greater Asian American representation in Hollywood, as its protagonist is half-Korean, half-white and played by a Vietnamese actress (though Han has received criticism for not including an Asian love interest for Lara Jean in the story). Fisher, who is mixed race, says he's excited bring even more representation to the series, not just for people of color but for anyone who believes you don't have to be a "jawline-chiseled-by-a-Greek-god guy to be a viable love interest."
"To be able to sit down and watch a film and be able to point out a character and be like 'Oh, that's me. I get this. I understand this. I feel represented'," Fisher told VICE. "It's a beautiful thing to be a part of."
Fisher plays John Ambrose McClaren, another recipient of a love letter from Lara Jean, who is dealing with the social anxiety of being the girlfriend of the most popular boy in school. When John Ambrose writes back, then shows up in Lara Jean's after-school volunteer activity looking like a handsome, sophisticated snack, it sends LJ into a tailspin. Suddenly the girl who never had a boyfriend is in a love triangle and has to decide who to choose: the jock with a heart of gold or the refined young gentleman. It's an embarrassment of cute boy riches.
John Ambrose is the thinking man's Peter Kavinsky. "He's so thoughtful and he's so intentional," he told VICE. "He's well-read and has high levels of social awareness."
Fisher grew up in Birmingham, Alabama and was raised by his maternal grandparents (though he refers to them as his parents) who adopted him as a child. His biological mother was only 16 and struggling with substance abuse when she gave birth to him. His grandparents dedicated much of their lives to supporting his endeavors, including gymnastics since age 2, musical theater since fifth grade, and a move to LA at 17 when he landed a role in The Secret Life of the American Teenager.
Growing up in a nurturing environment with years of training in theater and gymnastics are perhaps responsible for Fisher's charismatic and elegant presence. In the film, he carries himself with a grace that feels more in line with a 17th century dignitary or ballet dancer (not shocking considering he won season 25 of Dancing with the Stars), and he speaks with a warm, eloquent cadence that's the polar opposite of Peter Kavinsky. Fisher completely embodies his character, so when you see John Ambrose beautifully playing piano and slow dancing in a white tuxedo, it's not hard to see the actor and character as one and the same. That's part of the reason why the role appealed to him.
"To be given an opportunity to play a character as a person of color that is sophisticated and is warm and has appeal and him actually be a charming and unique individual...is beautiful," said Fisher, who also just became the first actor of color to play the titular role in Broadway's Dear Evan Hansen.
To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You is a mouthful of a title, but it's also heavy on the charm that made the first film special, though it's decidedly a more grown up tale. As Lara Jean and Peter fully enter their no-longer-fake relationship, LJ realizes real relationships aren't like the 80s teen romances she's obsessed with. The two must navigate the hardships of high school dating with its jealous exes and pressures to be a perfect girlfriend. When big secrets get revealed and John Ambrose shows up saying and doing all the right things, LJ and Peter have to decide if they're really MFEO (rom-com speak for "meant for each other"). Peter Kavinsky and his woah woah woah's might not stand a chance against the sweet, intellectual John Ambrose.
"For me, for Jordan, I think Peter is the right move for a Lara Jean for right now, during high school and college. There's so much for her to learn within the relationship and recognizing that even though likes do attract, so do opposites. Sometimes you have to play the thing out and see how it works, and learn, and learn about you," Fisher said.
Long term, however, is another story. Peter Kavinsky might be the internet's boyfriend, but John Ambrose is better suited to be the internet's—and Lara Jean's—husband.
"John Ambrose is the better match, and I do think that they should end up together," he said. "I do think they should end up marrying one another and having a family together."
Alex Zaragoza is a senior staff writer at VICE.