‘To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before’s Janel Parrish: Margot Is ‘Different’ From Any Role ‘I’ve Ever Played’

‘To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before’ hits Netflix on Aug. 17, and HL spoke EXCLUSIVELY with star Janel Parrish about how the role of Margot is a big change for her. She’s very different from ‘PLL’s Mona!

The highly-anticipated To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is going to be the best teen rom-com you’ve seen in a long time. The movie, based on the best-selling book by Jenny Han, tells the story of Lara Jean, a girl whose life is turned upside down when the love letters she has written to her past crushes are sent out.

Janel Parrish stars as Lara Jean’s older sister, Margot. HollywoodLife talked EXCLUSIVELY with the 29-year-old ahead of the movie’s release on Netflix, and she revealed that Margot is nothing like her role as the fan favorite Mona on Pretty Little Liars. She also raved about bringing back romantic comedies and why a movie like To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is important today.

Obviously this is a super popular book amongst its fans. Did you feel any pressure taking on the role of Margot?
Janel Parrish: You know, I think you always do a little bit. Even when I was playing Mona in Pretty Little Liars, whenever you’re doing a book adaptation, you really want to make sure that the fans are happy and that you’re staying true to the characters that they fell in love with. We started this film and we were like, wow, there’s a lot of books, and hopefully they’re happy with who they chose to bring their character to life and we’re doing it justice. For me though, what kind of alleviated a lot of that stress was when I met the book writer, Jenny Han. She came to the set and she was just like, it’s just like I imagined it. It’s staying true to my world and my characters and I was like, oh my god, if she’s happy, I think that hopefully means that the fans would also be happy. Honestly, so far the responses have been amazing. So we’re feeling really grateful.

How would you say your character differs from Mona? Obviously we saw you play her for seven seasons. We’re going to see you play her again.
Janel Parrish: I feel like Margot and Mona would never be friends. I feel like Mona would think that Margot was a stiff, and Margot would be like, that girl’s a bad influence, you can’t be friends with her. No, I love playing Margot. It’s very different from any role I’ve ever played before, and it’s very different from me. I think I view myself more as a Lara Jean. And honestly, one of the things I loved about Margot was that she reminded me of my big sister, Melissa. She was always the one that I went to. I had any problem, I’d be like, please, sister, you have to help me solve it. She was always the smartest person to me. She took care of me and it’s sisters and family before everything. And that’s very true with Margot and Lara Jean and Katie. And I just loved that family connection. It’s so important to the film.

You said you feel that you’re very different from Margot. Is there any way that you think you’re similar?
Janel Parrish: I think the only thing that really makes us similar is the love that I have for my family and my sister and my dad and my mom is the same. It’s this family before everything. Margot works really hard to kind of fill their mother’s shoes after their mother is gone and take care of the whole family, and she just would put her family before anything. And I think I relate to that in the way that my family is the most important thing in the world to me.

Why do you think a story like this is needed today?
Janel Parrish: I think first of all, it’s really wonderful to see a film about a girl who is not quintessential. Yeah, quintessential romantically. She’s quirky, she’s silly, she’s goofy, she’s flawed, and she feels like those things are what makes her invisible. But then in the movie, she goes through change and realizes that, you know what, those things are what makes me me and makes me beautiful and makes me strong and I own up to that, and I’m going to feel beautiful and confident. I think that’s such a wonderful message to send to girls. You can be free, feel free to be yourself, and feel comfortable in your own skin. And sometimes those things that make you self conscious and make you feel kind of awkward and quirky and silly are the things that make you the most beautiful… I also think it’s really fun to bring back romantic comedies. I grew up watching all romantic comedies, and I feel like there’s been a lull there. So I kind of hope that this film keeps bringing the trend of feel-good movies.

What do you hope fans take away from this movie?
Janel Parrish: Definitely the theme of confidence. I think that that’s the most important message — to feel beautiful in your own skin. Take ownership of who you are, and be brave. Be brave to take chances and think outside the box. And sometimes something can be scary, but sometimes those are when the best things happen.

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