Blake Lively is just one of the famous faces bringing Colleen Hoover's romance novel to life on the big screen
It Ends with Us is Colleen Hoover’s best-selling novel — and now it's getting the Hollywood treatment.
The romance novel tells the story of Lily, a young woman looking for a fresh start when she falls in love with a doctor named Ryle. Their romance becomes complicated, though, when she reconnects with her teenage love, Atlas, and learns of Ryle’s dark past.
Published in 2016, It Ends with Us experienced a huge surge in popularity in 2021 thanks to the #BookTok community on TikTok. As a result, It Ends with Us rose to the No. 1 spot on the New York Times' Best Sellers list in 2021 and remained on the list for more than 90 weeks, according to Deadline.
Jane the Virgin star Justin Baldoni and his production company Wayfarer Studios optioned the book back in 2019 — but Hoover didn’t confirm the movie was officially happening until January 2023. In an Instagram post, the best-selling author shared that the book was “loosely inspired” by her own mother, who got them “out of a scary situation” when Hoover was a child. She also revealed that Baldoni and Blake Lively would lead the cast.
“I think that Justin Baldoni and Blake Lively have what it takes to bring these characters to life and I cannot wait for you guys to see that happen. ... I’m so excited, y’all,” Hoover said in her Instagram video, which she shot while standing outside her childhood home. “The little girl who used to sleep in that bedroom thanks you for all the support.”
Since making the casting announcement, Hoover faced backlash because Lively and Baldoni are significantly older than their It Ends With Us characters. In June 2023, Hoover explained the choice during an appearance at Book Bonanza. “Back when I wrote It Ends With Us, the new adult [genre] was very popular,” she said. “You were writing college-age characters. That's what I was contracted to do.”
She continued, “I didn't know that neurosurgeons went to school for 50 years. There's not a 20-something neurosurgeon.”
“As I started making this movie, I'm like, ‘We need to age them out because I messed up,’ ” she added. "So that's my fault."
Filming kicked off in New Jersey in May 2023. However, it came to a screeching halt a month later due to the ongoing writers' strike. Still, production is confident that the movie will premiere in February 2024, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
With production well underway, here’s everything to know about the cast of It Ends with Us.
Blake Lively as Lily Bloom
Blake Lively, 35, is set to bring the novel’s leading lady, Lily Bloom, to life on screen. Lively has already taken steps to transform into Lily, including dyeing her signature blonde hair to portray the outspoken redhead who finds herself caught in a complicated love triangle.
“Our Lily is going to be played by Blake Lively. Blake Lively, y’all. She's my dream Lily,” Hoover announced excitedly on Instagram in January 2023.
This is not the first time that Lively has starred in a famous book adaptation. The actress first rose to fame in 2005 when she appeared as Bridget in the adaptation of Ann Brashares’ beloved novel The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. In 2007, Lively landed another book-inspired project as Serena van der Woodsen on the CW’s Gossip Girl, a teen drama based on the series by Cecily von Ziegesar.
Lively’s other acting credits include starring roles in the action flick Green Lantern (2011), the period drama The Age of Adaline (2015) and the psychological thriller (and book adaptation) A Simple Favor (2018). She drew praise in 2020 for portraying a sex worker turned assassin in The Rhythm Section and plans to reprise her role in the forthcoming sequel to A Simple Favor.
The actress took her turn behind the camera when she directed the music video for Taylor Swift’s “I Bet You Think About Me” in 2021. Her directorial debut earned her nominations for video of the year at the CMA Awards and the ACM Awards. Lively is also set to bring another book to the big screen — but this time, as a director: In April 2022, she signed on to direct the film adaptation of Scott Pilgrim cartoonist Bryan Lee O'Malley's 2014 graphic novel Seconds.
In her personal life, Lively has been married to fellow actor Ryan Reynolds, whom she met on the set of Green Lantern, since 2012. The couple share four children: daughters James, Inez and Betty and a fourth baby born in 2023.
Justin Baldoni as Ryle Kincaid
Justin Baldoni, 39, takes on the role of Ryle Kincaid — a neurosurgeon with a “complete aversion to relationships,” according to Hoover’s website — who finds himself falling in love with Lily. Baldoni, who optioned It Ends with Us in 2019, is also directing and executive producing the film adaptation.
Hoover herself approved of Baldoni portraying the tall, dark, handsome and complex character. “I just thought that he had what it takes to play that character,” she said when revealing the cast on her Instagram account. “The good news is he’s gonna be Ryle. So we have our Ryle and our Lily.”
As an actor, Baldoni is best known for playing Rafael Solano on the CW series Jane the Virgin from 2014 to 2019. He also has a variety of directing credits under his belt, including the docuseries My Last Days, the 2019 film Five Feet Apart and the 2020 Disney+ movie Clouds. He’s also behind the upcoming live-action Pac-Man movie with his production company, Wayfarer Studios.
Most recently, Baldoni has added “author” to his résumé. In 2021, he published his first book, Man Enough: Undefining My Masculinity, based on his prior talk show and TED Talk of the same name. Baldoni followed that up with Boys Will Be Human in 2022, which became a New York Times Best Seller.
“I often say there’s been no handbook for how to be a young boy or a man in this world — so I did my best to write a version of what that looks like in 2022,” Baldoni wrote on Instagram.
Brandon Sklenar as Atlas Corrigan
Completing Hoover’s love triangle is Brandon Sklenar as Atlas Corrigan, Lily’s high school boyfriend who reappears as she starts her adult life and new relationship.
Sklenar, 32, is best known for portraying Spencer Dutton on the Paramount+ series 1923, a Yellowstone spinoff that debuted in 2022. But the New Jersey native has been acting in films and TV shows since 2011. After a handful of minor roles and appearances, his first big break came when he was cast in the 2018 biographical drama Mapplethorpe, which earned critical acclaim at the Tribeca Film Festival, as the titular Robert Mapplethorpe’s brother, Edward. Sklenar also appeared alongside Amy Adams, Steve Carell, Christian Bale and Sam Rockwell in the Dick Cheney biopic Vice.
Though Sklenar has starred in several independent films, portraying Atlas in It Ends with Us will be one of his biggest mainstream roles to date. But the actor wasn’t aware of the book’s cult following when he got the part.
“When this project came along I wasn’t aware of this book or the tremendous impact it has had on women all over the world in helping them to have the strength to change their lives,” he wrote on Instagram after his casting was announced.
Sklenar continued: “It is our intention that this film continues to spread the vital message of this book; for women to feel empowered and men to be better. I’m honored to be a part of it.”
Jenny Slate as Allysa
In May 2021, Deadline reported that comedian Jenny Slate, 41, was joining the cast as Ryle's sister Allyssa Kincaid. Her character has a crucial role in the book, and Slate was spotted filming later that month.
Aside from her part in It Ends With Us, Slate has several film and television credits to her name. She voiced Marcel in the 2022 animated film Marcel the Shell, based on the hit YouTube series, and starred in the Oscar-winning movie Everything, Everywhere, All at Once. She also portrayed Mona-Lisa Saperstein on the hit NBC sitcom Parks & Recreation.
Slate married her husband Ben Shattuck on New Year's Eve in 2021. The couple also share a daughter, Ida Lupine Shattuck, who was born earlier that year.
Hasan Minhaj as Marshall
Minhaj is an award-winning comedian and has appeared in several Netflix projects, including his comedy specials Homecoming King and The King’s Jester as well as Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj. He also plays Eric Nomani in AppleTV+'s series The Morning Show, which stars Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon.
The actor met his wife, Beena Patel, in college and the two welcomed their first child in 2018. Two years later, Minhaj became a father of two when his second child was born.
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