Get ready to have an even bigger crush on Noah Centineo (aka the Internet’s boyfriend right now). The Florida-born actor plays the male lead in two of the biggest romantic comedies of the summer – To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and Sierra Burgess is a Loser, respectively – and some may say he’s the reason why the genre is back and better than ever before. When I spoke with him on the phone recently, I found Centineo to be refreshingly honest, wise beyond his 22 years (he candidly reflected on his life and career with the enlightenment of an old soul) and charming beyond belief.
The following is a condensed and edited version of my engaging phone interview with Noah Centineo.
Brief Take: I loved both of your Netflix movies so much and I thought you brought such depth to two roles that could have easily been the one-dimensional love interest in the hands of a lesser actor. What did you like best about playing Peter in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and Jamey in Sierra Burgess is a Loser?
Noah Centineo: I really appreciate you saying that. What’s great about both characters is that they’re jocks on the surface but if you peel away their layers, they do have depth to them. I was fortunate enough to have the writers of these films make sure that there was that depth to both characters. If they weren’t written that way, neither character would be the way you saw them. I loved the scene in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before where Peter is talking to Lara Jean and she says to him “I’m afraid of love”, and he says “Why??”. He really pulls her out of her comfort zone and encourages her to fight her fears.
BT: Both of these movies also teach boys and girls to love freely and that it’s okay to be yourself. Those are such refreshing and empowering messages to be giving a younger audience in two mainstream movies.
NC: So true! I think in both films, specifically Sierra Burgess, they’re telling you to embrace your insecurities and tackle your inner demons. I think embracing your insecurities is so important in life. I was having a panic attack once and I saw this sign that said “what you avoid controls you”, and it’s so true!
I think what I really want people to take away from Sierra Burgess is that you should embrace your insecurities because you are who you are, and that’s okay. We’re all insecure people on the inside and we do struggle every single day. So until you love those parts of yourself, you’re never going to be able to experience true love outside of yourself either. With Lara Jean, that path is scary but we do get our hearts broken. Her Mom passed away when she was a very young age and that was really hard for her. Because of that, she hasn’t developed relationships within the outside world. She’s also afraid to be honest with her family. We have to be honest with ourselves and with our families. But I really think both movies are just so incredible.
BT: Has your family seen both movies yet?
NC: No. My sister has watched To All the Boys though and she liked it a lot. [laughs] She told me it was her favourite thing that I’ve ever done. I thought that was adorable because I think she’s great and the fact that she likes my work is just amazing.
BT: Let’s talk about your leading ladies – Lana Condor and Shannon Purser. They’re both super talented but they’re also such down to Earth, humble women. What was it like working with them?
NC: Gosh, well they’re both goddesses walking on this planet. Shannon is just the sweetest when you’re with her. She’s so loving and honest and willing to talk about anything. She’s so smart too, they both are actually! You can sit there and talk about the world and they’ll both be so honest with you and genuine. Working with Lana in Vancouver was just incredible because we would just hang out all the time. When you come from L.A. and they move you to a different country to work, you really stick together with your cast mates.
BT: You’ve also coincidentally acted opposite two very talented Camilas – Camila Mendes in the upcoming The Stand-in and Camila Cabello in the Havana music video. What did you like best about working with them?
NC: I’m so in love with both of them. [laughs] They’re both such talented, intelligent, beautiful and amazing people.
BT: I really appreciate that you’ve worked on a continual basis and supported female writers and directors. From Susan Johnson and Sofia Alvarez in To All the Boys to Lindsey Beer in Sierra Burgess, among many others. Coming up it looks like you’ll be directed by Troian Bellisario in an episode of Good Trouble, The Fosters‘ spin off.
NC: Thank you. I enjoy supporting female filmmakers and those women that you mentioned, their careers are really moving forward and I’m so proud of them. For them to involve me in what they’re doing, I think that’s where the real appreciation lies. As far as Good Trouble, I have no comment on that. Honestly, I would tell you if I had a better idea, but I have no idea! [laughs] I can’t wait to find out what’s happening with that, are you kidding?! [laughs]
BT: You have such a devoted fan base from your work on The Fosters. What are some fan reactions from your work on that show that have stayed with you?
NC: Oh man, that was so cool because there were times when I’d be walking around my home town, in Florida. So there were times when I’d be approached by someone in their thirties or their forties who had gone through the foster care system and we would talk for a long time. They would say “I want you to know that I just loved the show because I’m a foster child myself”, and we would just discuss it all. It’s so rewarding to be able to give a voice to foster kids and to do something so relatable. The Fosters has also given me the chance to relate to anyone who’s gone through that system. It’s just incredibly rewarding for me to do work that connects with people.
BT: Who are some of your dream collaborators?
NC: Oh man, Gaspar Noé is someone that I’d love to work with! I’d also love to work with the Nolan brothers, Matthew McConaughey, Mark Ruffalo, and Margot Robbie because she’s been doing some really great things in the industry. She’s immensely talented and I’ve heard that she’s a very nice person as well. I really enjoy being a part of this industry and I’d like to continue to support the women’s movement in this field. Also, finding the right stories will be pivotal for me, moving forward, because I want them to be as impactful and relatable as the projects that I’ve done in the past.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is currently streaming on Netflix. Sierra Burgess is a Loser will begin streaming on Netflix globally on September 7.