EXCLUSIVE: Ross Butler On Playing High School Himbos

We chat to the To All The Boys: Always and Forever star about playing high school himbos, and his friendship with his Netflix co-stars.
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In the last few years, Hollywood has carved a seat at the table for the himbo—aka, the innocently dumb but well-meaning athletically built jock persona.

And no one knows that better than Ross Butler, a 6’3 and athletic Asian-American actor who has built a career playing high school himbos—and grew up playing lacrosse, basketball, and American football.

WATCH BELOW: The Trailer To Netflix’s To All The Boys: Always and Forever.

His costumes on set of shows like Riverdale and 13 Reasons Why are dictated by varsity jackets, three-quarter sleeves, and basketball singlets. His lines, endearingly dumb and jocky, perfectly match with his delivery that can only be described as authentically goofy and orally slapstick.

And the best of his himbo roles? Trevor in Netflix’s To All The Boys: Always and Forever.

In To All The Boys: Always and Forever, Lara Jean (Lana Condor), Peter (Noah Centineo), Trevor, and the gang are preparing for the end of high school and applying for university. As college acceptance letters begin to come in, Lara Jean and Peter are confronted with the idea that they might not be going to the same or even neighbouring universities.

Whether their love can overcome this challenge—and whether they can even handle long-distance—is the core conflict of the third act in the To All The Boys series. But, as far as Butler’s character and Peter’s best mate, Trevor, is concerned, it’s about living in the moment, playing sports, and having fun.

“I see Trevor coaching a kids baseball team,” Butler says, predicting Trevor’s life after high school. “I see him as a good coach and a good dad. I also completely see him having kids at 20 or 23. That feels like a Trevor thing.”

“Not with Chris. Chris wouldn’t be down. Chris would want to live her life in your own thing.”

To All The Boys
Trevor (Ross Butler) daring Chris (Madeleine Arthur) to go to Prom with him. (Netflix)

In one scene in Always and Forever, the group is on a school excursion in New York and waiting downstairs in a hotel lobby for their teachers. As Peter and Lara Jean meet up and begin chatting about their plans for the day, Trevor turns to his on-and-off girlfriend, the sarcastic and too-cool-for-school Chris (Madeleine Arthur), and flirtingly tells her,  “You look great today, like a painting.”

“Like, a Botticelli?” she replies back, referencing the Italian painter Sandro Botticelli.

“Yep, like spaghetti.”

“I’m gonna be honest with you,” Butler begins to explain to Girlfriend, “that Botticelli line is one of my favorites because it was completely impromptu. It was one of those things that just came up. A lot of the comedy [in the film comes] from the natural chemistry between me and Madeleine [Arthur].”

“It came from this weird moment where I was just like, ‘oh, you look great. You’re like a painting,’ which, yeah, just came out of nowhere. And then she says, ‘like, a Botticelli?’ to which I reply, ‘Yep, like a spaghetti.’” 

“It’s the moments like those that I’ll always remember,” Butler continues, adding that “I’m very much like Trevor, just naturally.”

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In the second film—To All The Boys: P.S. I Still Love You—LJ, Peter, Trevor and Chris are at a house party. In the scene, we focus on Lara Jean’s estranged feelings towards her boyfriend Peter at a party. As she watches him from across the room be the centre of attention, she confides in a friend that she feels more distant towards Peter since they started dating than when they pretended to date in the first film. But, in the background, Trevor and Chris steal the scene as they flirt by the stairs, spraying whipped cream on each other and wrestling—an adorably playful moment Butler admits was completely improvised. 

“There’s a moment where Chris and I—well, Chris and Trevor, me and Madeline—are sitting on the steps of a party. The only thing it says in the script is that [Lara Jean and Peter] look at us, and we’re just flirting,” he explained. “With Chris and Trevor, we wanted to show more than tell our relationship. Yeah, those creative moments are gonna be my favorite.”

Being cast in so many shows set in high school comes with its own added homework, ofc. As Butler is now 30-years-old, it’s been a hot minute since he was in his final year of high school, so it can be a challenge to put himself in the shoes of a high schooler experiencing things for the first time again—and again… and again.

To All The Boys
Peter (Noah Centineo), Lara Jean (Lana Condor), Trevor (Ross Butler), and Chris (Madeleine Arthur) getting ready for Prom. (Netflix)

“The hardest scenes for me to connect to are probably the prom and dance scenes to be completely honest,” Butler admits. “One, this is probably my sixth or seventh dance scene as a high schooler, so I have to try to relive that same feeling that it’s Homecoming, or as if this is my first Prom. It’s just, it’s like beating a dead horse, and I’m happy I probably don’t have to do one for a while.” 

“Also, as an adult, it’s kind of weird to be at a dance,” he continues. “What’s the adult parallel of a dance, like a club? I don’t go to clubs and dance so having to force myself to dance is hard. By the way, a little bit of movie magic: a lot of the time, they don’t even play music when they tell you to dance, so that they can hear the dialogue between the two people speaking. So, all those things put together make dance scenes particularly difficult for me.”

But, something that helps make that all worth it? The time spent with his castmates. As any follower of Ross Butler’s Instagram can tell you, he and his To All The Boys co-star, Noah Centineo are best buds. The pair are always seen hanging out and goofing about—last year, Noah did a gaming cardinal sin and leaked Ross’s island code in Animal Crossing, inviting all sorts of randoms into his Animal Crossing game. 

To All The Boys
Peter (Noah Centineo) and Trevor (Ross Butler) posing for a pic at Central Park. (Netflix)

“We just immediately clicked because of our shared sense of humour,” Butler said. “So being on set with him and working with him, it didn’t really feel like work. It felt kind of like we were just hanging out.”

“This may seem really specific, but in the movie, there’s a montage of when we go to New York, and we’re like just going around seeing all the sights,” he continued. “They didn’t record any audio or dialogue for this. But just being able to go to all these landmarks and improvise funny lines with Noah was just super fun.”

“It felt like something that I kind of just want to do in my real life because I really haven’t had too many opportunities to travel with friends just because all my friends are actors and schedule and with COVID and everything. So yeah, weirdly, the scene where there’s no dialogue or any emotion involved whatsoever was the most emotional for me, because I was like, this is something that I wish I could be doing.”

To All The Boys: Always And Forever fittingly releases on Netflix on the 14th February. 

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