Lana Condor has had a good few years. Her first film role was playing Jubilee in 2016’s “X-Men: Apocalypse.” She then rocketed to stardom after starring as Lara Jean Covey in the 2018 Netflix romcom “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.” Her other credits include last year’s big-budget epic “Alita: Battle Angel” and Syfy’s “Deadly Class.” Now, Condor is back on Netflix with the highly anticipated sequel “To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You.” Below, Condor talks about why playing Lara Jean is harder than stunt work.
You’ve said before that it’s harder in some ways to play Lara Jean than your action roles. Why is that?
For some reason, I’ve had the blessing of playing a lot of characters that have pre-existing source material. It’s like a Bible that you can just refer to constantly. With Jubilee and “Alita” and “Deadly Class,” I had things to refer to, and I also had masks I could hide behind, for sure. They’re comic book characters, so you can hide behind the tattoo, the students, the wigs, the hair. There’s a lot to hide behind. But for me, it’s like character acting.
For “To All the Boys,” [Lara Jean is] just a normal girl. I couldn’t hide behind anything; it’s pretty much me. I had to be way more vulnerable. I had no masks I could put on and say, “Oh, this is far removed from me.” She’s just a normal girl, and that comes with all these great, awesome, positive things—and also the insecurities. It’s for sure harder, but I love her. I love her mind and her heart. I was so happy to show the world that.
In “Deadly Class,” how did you keep your stamina up during the action scenes?
Gosh, a lot of it was just trying to sleep as much as I could. Be quiet—when I didn’t have to speak, I didn’t talk, because I was so tired. Try to just eat real food. I would carbo-load literally every single night because I needed that energy. But I would have real food, nothing processed, because your body is your instrument and you have to oil it correctly, feed it with the good stuff.
Did you have trouble speaking up for yourself when you couldn’t do a stunt?
That whole stunt team [on “Deadly Class”], they were top-notch pros. I didn’t have to say a thing. My girl [Lauren Mary Kim, Condor’s stunt double,] knew when I couldn’t take it and she would step in and be like, “Let’s go.” I’m very lucky, because I came in a time where the Time’s Up movement was and is happening, and women speaking up and speaking out was just more of a huge conversation. So I’m very lucky to be a part of that time, because I felt very empowered and I felt like I had a voice that I could use. My heart breaks for the women and men before me who paved that way, when it was much harder. But I’ve always felt like I could say no, for sure.
How do you prepare for an audition?
Obviously, read the scripts, memorize your sides. And get a good night’s rest. Also remember that auditions are so hard—they’re so, so hard. Auditions by their nature are so weird. You have a reader, but sometimes they’re not actors; it’s very one-sided. I think auditioning is way harder than just being on the job. Get a lot of sleep, memorize your lines, and hope for the best!
What’s something you know now that you wish you had known going into this business?
When I first started, I thought you had to pay for [craft services]. I literally thought you had to pay for your lunch and your snacks! I remember on “X-Men” being like, “Wait, do I have to pay for lunch? How much does it cost?” I also realized when you’re using the restroom, you turn off your mic. Little things like that.
How have you overcome rejections?
I say, “Greatness is coming.” My dad always said that, and I always repeat that to myself. I always say, “Lana, be soft and be gentle to yourself.” You need to talk to yourself like you’re your own best friend. The negative things that you say to yourself in your mind, you would never say that to your best friend, not ever. So treat yourself like your own best friend and change that voice in your head. Be your own best friend and be soft and gentle to yourself. And greatness is coming!
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