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Justin Baldoni on Decision to Age Up Characters in It Ends With Us

Justin Baldoni on Decision to Age Up Characters in It Ends With Us

Three days after the It Ends With Us trailer took the internet by storm, director and star Justin Baldoni is opening up about the reaction and some of the most buzzed-about changes from the book to the movie.

The film, starring Baldoni, Blake Lively and Brandon Sklenar, is adapted from Colleen Hoover’s hit novel of the same name and follows Lily Bloom (Lively), a woman who overcomes a traumatic childhood to embark on a new chapter. Along the way she sparks an intense connection with charming neurosurgeon Ryle Kincaid (Baldoni), but she begins to see sides of him that remind her of her parents’ relationship.

At the Los Angeles premiere of The Garfield Movie on Sunday, Baldoni — who is an executive producer on the animated film — spoke about the reaction to the trailer, telling The Hollywood Reporter, “Rightfully so, there was just a lot of anticipation and people I think feeling unsure of what it’s going to be. It’s really hard to take a book that’s beloved and also very important for a lot of social reasons and turn it into a film, and it was kind of the first time anyone was seeing what we were actually making for the last five years. I’m grateful that people see the love and care and the attention that has gone into it from soup to nuts and that we really honored the book, I believe.”

One of the biggest changes in the film adaptation, which has also gotten the most backlash online, is the characters have been aged up — when the book starts out, Lively’s character is just 23. Baldoni explained the decision to make the characters older in the film, noting, “Originally Colleen had written this over 10 years ago, and it was a time when everyone was writing YA and she wanted the characters to be older.

“For us, it was just more about making the story more universal, because this isn’t just a story about a young woman, it’s a story about women, and it does not discriminate,” he added. “So for us it was more about making sure that as many people as possible could understand and relate to the characters and what Lily was experiencing.”

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The trailer also got plenty of buzz for featuring Taylor Swift‘s song “My Tears Ricochet,” but Baldoni points to Lively, Swift’s BFF, for landing the song. “I take no credit for that, I’m sure that was all Blake,” he teased. The Sony film hits theaters Aug. 9.

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