IT ENDS WITH US Characters: Meet the Cast of Colleen Hoover’s Book-Turned-Movie

Back when Colleen Hoover was just another New Adult author, I read some of her books, including Slammed and Hopeless. Since then, Hoover has published numerous books and achieved steady success. Everything began to dramatically change in 2019, however, when her most popular book to date, It Ends with Us, was optioned for the screen. But before we get to know the It Ends with Us characters and other deets, let’s take a quick look at Hoover’s rise to fame.

Hoover’s literary prominence grew in 2021, thanks largely to TikTok. Because most books featured on TikTok are focused on eliciting strong emotions, many young readers filmed themselves crying after reading books such as Ugly Love and It Ends with Us. As a result of the hype, all of Hoover’s books made it to multiple bestseller lists — and some continue to dominate them. She was already fairly well-known before this, but she has grown significantly in popularity since.

That unprecedented success has been generating additional buzz, as movie producers announced the cast for It Ends with Us, revealed set photos, and released a first trailer. And even though this much-anticipated adaptation has yet to launch, Hoover’s other popular book, Verity, is also being adapted for the big screen.

Before we watch It Ends with Us, which is coming to theaters in August 2024, let’s go over the main cast and characters and see what we might expect from the film adaptation. If you haven’t read the book and want to be surprised by the story, this piece contains major spoilers.

Movie Tie-In Cover of It Ends with Us by Colleen HooverMovie Tie-In Cover of It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover

Blake Lively as Lily Bloom

Lily, out of college and with an MBA at 23, opens her own flower shop. She’s described as innocent, modest, and carefree. She’s the main protagonist of the story; following her father’s death, she hopes to find love. Though she can’t bring to admit it to herself, she secretly pines for her teenage lover, Atlas, whom she helped during her adolescence.

Throughout the story, she escapes an abusive relationship and realizes that she doesn’t want to end up like her mother, who’s abused by her father. In the end, she reconnects and finds love with Atlas.

Actor Blake Lively, known for the TV series Gossip Girl and films like The Age Of Adaline, plays this titular character, but most fans are generally not pleased with the casting choices in the film. Lively, according to many fans, seems to be “too old” to play this role, an opinion they share about the casting in general (more on that later).

Lively is great at what she does, but I think that this role requires a younger actor. Lily is not as I imagined Lively while reading the book, and many fans share the same sentiment.

Justin Baldoni as Ryle Kincaid

Ryle, played by Justin Baldoni, known for TV shows Jane The Virgin and The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, is a 29-year-old neurosurgeon in the book version. He has a soft spot for Lily, but he’s dealing with his own demons after a childhood accident involving his younger brother. He exudes a bad boy attitude and is the life of the party. He loves Lily, but he struggles with anger management issues and random outbursts. He has to overcome that in order for Lily to accept him back into her life.

Throughout the story, he evolves from wanting a casual relationship to romance. When his baby with Lily is born, he tries to co-parent with her, but there’s not much change in his mental health struggles.

Similar to Lively’s casting of Lily, many fans are dissatisfied to learn that Baldoni plays Ryle. Fans were expecting someone younger; some even hoped Theo James to play the role (who notably is only one year younger than Baldoni).

At first, I couldn’t imagine Baldoni, 39, playing Ryle due to the age difference. But, after seeing the trailer, I felt that he could pull it off somehow. He has that bad boy-ish appearance that complements the character well. I think he’s able to portray Ryle’s rapid emotional changes, which the character requires.

Aside from playing this role, Baldoni also directs this adaptation.

Brandon Sklenar as Atlas Corrigan

Throughout the story, Lily’s letters to a talk show host show glimpses of a younger version of Atlas. He’s unhoused and poor in his youth and later enlists in the military. He’s described as someone determined to get out of poverty. He’s also humble and well-mannered.

Atlas is Lily’s old flame, and he must keep his promise to come back for her and save her from Ryle’s abuse.

As with Lively’s casting, many fans are disappointed with the casting of Brandon Sklenar, who’s known for his roles in TV series 1923 and Westworld. They expected to see someone younger, with a more “gentle” appearance, like Jacob Elordi. Some even believe that Baldoni should’ve played Atlas and that these two male leads should switch roles (though that does not solve the age problem).

Age is impossible to ignore in the casting of this adaptation indeed, and Sklenar is not what I imagined Atlas to look like.

Jenny Slate as Allysa Kincaid

Allysa is Ryle’s sister and Lily’s best friend. She’s described as bubbly, but she doesn’t condone her brother’s abuse towards Lily. She even supports Lily whenever she faces problems with Ryle.

Her role in the story is minor: she helps the main protagonists and moves the story along. But even though her role seems minuscule, fans also expect a younger actor to play this character, as she is Ryle’s younger sister in the book.

Jenny Slate, 42, plays Allyssa in the film. She has appeared in numerous TV shows and movies, including Parks and Recreation and Obvious Child.

Hasan Minhaj as Marshall

Marshall is Allysa’s husband and Ryle’s best friend. He works as a software developer. He appears to be easygoing and enjoys going to parties. Despite his carefree attitude, he seems to be an ever-supportive husband to Allysa.

In the story, he’s mostly just a plot device, helping out Lily and Allyssa in their quotidian lives. In the end, he goes from a party lover to a responsible father.

Since Marshall is the life of the party in the book, Hasan Minhaj, as a comedian, could easily play the role. Marshall exudes a vivacious energy that Minhaj could match. Aside from It Ends with Us, he’s also appeared in shows such as The Daily Show and Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj.

Minhaj’s portrayal of Marshall, however, appears to have surprised and perplexed Hoover’s fans. His involvement in a 2023 controversy also doesn’t help.

Will There Be a Sequel to It Ends with Us?

At least in the literary world, all five It Ends with Us characters return in the sequel It Starts with Us, where the chaotic love triangle among the three continues. Ryle continues to have issues and longs for Lily. Meanwhile, Lily and Atlas navigate their renewed relationship.

Although there’s crossover in some of Hoover’s books, such as some characters in November 9 and Ugly Love, the It Ends with Us characters only appear in its sequel.

However, Hoover initially had no plans to continue the story of this duology. The first book was intended to be a standalone, but she wrote a follow up as a thank you to her fans. “After releasing It Ends with Us, I never imagined I would one day be writing a sequel. I also never imagined that the book would be received as it has been by so many,” she pens in a heartfelt note in It Starts with Us.

“After It Ends with Us gained momentum on TikTok, I was inundated with requests for more Lily and Atlas. And how could I possibly deny a community that has changed my life? This novel was written as a thank-you for the tremendous support, and because of that, I wanted to deliver a much lighter experience.”

She repeats the same message in the Acknowledgments section of It Starts with Us, saying that she has “been adamant that I would never write a sequel” and that she “felt like it ended where it needed to end.”

Why Are It Ends with Us Characters Older in the Film?

When asked about the ages of the characters in the film, Hoover explained to TODAY that they were changed, admitting that she had made that mistake in the book, blaming her inexperience as an author (a neurosurgeon probably wouldn’t be 28 years old), and that it was already fixed in the film adaptation. It makes sense that the entire cast was aged up to align with this correction.

But instead of being a movie for audiences of early adulthood, which the book’s characters are, It Ends with Us, the film, appears to be targeting adults in their late 30s or even 40s, which is somewhat jarring for the book’s fans. This movie adaptation appears to be casting a wider net rather than remaining faithful to its source material. “It was just more about making the story more universal… So for us it was more about making sure that as many people as possible could understand and relate to the characters…” director Baldoni admitted in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

Only time will tell if these drastic changes will bring value to the franchise that readers have come to love.

Seeing characters come to life is one of the most rewarding aspects of reading, and seeing It Ends with Us characters, albeit disappointingly, exist outside of the book is likely a dream for all of Hoover’s fans. Who wouldn’t want to see their favorite characters off the pages?

You can watch the trailer for This Is Us here! And if you can’t get enough of It Ends with Us’ bittersweet romance, here are some other books you might like. And if you want to read more of Hoover’s books but aren’t sure where to begin, here’s what you should know.

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