Why The Cast Of It Ends With Us Looks So Familiar

Colleen Hoover's novel "It Ends With Us" is a certified phenomenon. According to Deadline, the book was the highest-selling novel of 2022, and the #colleenhoover hashtag on TikTok has racked up 4.5 billion views at the time of publication. Fans fell in love with Lily Bloom, the novel's headstrong main character, and swooned over the love triangle between Ryle, a neurosurgeon, and Atlas, a man from her past.

Director Justin Baldoni announced the project on Instagram back in 2019, writing, "So excited to be working with the brilliant @colleenhoover to try bring #ItEndsWithUs to the big screen!!!" He added, "I'm so passionate about this book and so honored she chose me to help bring it to the world." News about the film went dark for a few years — there was a global pandemic, after all — but things ramped back up in 2023. It feels like casting announcements, set photos, rumors, and speculation have captivated fans of "It Ends With Us" just as much as the book did.

So, who will be bringing "It Ends With Us" to life on screen? Fans have pored over every detail, and they may be wondering why some of the faces in those set photos seem so familiar. Many of the cast have a number of impressive credits to their name, so read on to learn where you likely recognize the cast of "It Ends With Us" from.

Director Justin Baldoni also plays Ryle

Justin Baldoni, who is co-writing and directing the film, cast himself to play the book's hunky Ryle. In her Instagram announcement, Colleen Hoover told fans, "When I first met Justin Baldoni . . . I immediately wanted him to be Ryle. I just thought that he had what it takes to portray that character. And the good news is, he's gonna be Ryle!" Baldoni teased the film on social media, too. In a Facebook post about Barry Peterson, the movie's cinematographer, Baldoni wrote, "I can't wait for you to see what we are cooking up . . . It's going to be beautiful."

These days, Baldoni works primarily as a director. He was behind the camera for "Clouds," a Disney+ film starring Sabrina Carpenter, and he also helmed "Five Feet Apart," the movie where Cole Sprouse and Hailey Lu Richardson can't come within five feet of one another due to illness. 

If Baldoni looks familiar, it might be because of small roles on shows like "Single Ladies" and "Happy Endings." Alternately, his TED Talk "Why I'm done trying to be 'man enough'" has racked up more than 8 million views. Most likely, fans will recognize Baldoni from "Jane the Virgin," the hit CW show where he played Rafael Solano for 99 episodes. Speaking with Access Hollywood about the show's 2019 finale, Baldoni reflected that the cast had grown very close after spending so much time together. "It's a bittersweet goodbye, but a beautiful one," he said.

Blake Lively stars as Lily

Colleen Hoover announced that Blake Lively would play Lily Bloom in the film adaptation of "It Ends With Us." In an Instagram video in January 2023, Hoover said, "Blake Lively, y'all! She's my dream Lily." Sure enough, in May 2023, set photos published by E! News showed Lively filming scenes with Lily's iconic red hair. 

Lively has starred in a number of hit films, including "The Age of Adaline," "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants," and "A Simple Favor." Most viewers, though, will probably recognize Lively from "Gossip Girl." She played Serena van der Woodsen — a fashionable, rich girl with a heart of gold — on six seasons of the hit CW show. Lively told Collider that she'd been cast because fans of the book online voiced their support. "They were at the very forefront of the thing where people hire people based on what fans, or blogs, thought," she recalled. Lively won a fan vote online, leading the "Gossip Girl" creators to think, "Well, if the fans chose her, then they're probably gonna have a better response to the show if we hire the one person they chose." 

Fans of "It Ends With Us," on the other hand, aren't so sure. Lively is considerably older than Lily is in the book, which Hoover told Today was necessary. "As I started making this movie, I'm like, we need to age them out, because I messed up," she said, insisting that Lively will be great.

Playing Atlas may give Brendan Sklenar's career a boost

Director Justin Baldoni took to Facebook in April 2023 to share that Brandon Sklenar had been cast as Atlas, the troublesome man from Lily's past who gets in the way of her relationship with Ryle. "He looks exactly how I pictured Atlas!" one fan commented, while another added, "Literally perfect male lead casts." A few weeks after his casting announcement, E! News published photos of Sklenar on set, hugging his co-star as they filmed what appeared to be an emotional scene. 

Sklenar has been acting for more than a decade, ever since he moved to Los Angeles and lived out of his car. (He told Bustle, "It was a Jeep Grand Wagoneer, which has the most visibility out of any production car in America to date, just all glass windows, probably the worst car you could live in.") He starred as pioneering queer photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in "Mapplethorpe," played Burt Reynolds in "The Offer," and appeared on two episodes of "Westworld.

Then came his big break. If Sklenar looks familiar, it's probably because he's best known for starring as Spencer Dutton in "Yellowstone" prequel "1923," acting alongside the likes of Helen Mirren and Harrison Ford. Thanks to that casting and his role in "It Ends With Us," Sklenar's career looks ready to take off. "I love the work," he told Man About Town. "As you get older, the roles get better and, touch wood, there's more to work with."

Hasan Minhaj was cast as Marshall

In May 2023, Deadline announced that Hasan Minhaj had been cast to play Marshall, Ryle's best friend. Shortly thereafter, photos were published by People showing Minhaj filming alongside director and co-star Justin Baldoni. Both actors are dressed in colorful onesies, meaning the scene they were shooting is an important one fans of the book will recognize in a moment.

Minhaj is best known as a former correspondent for "The Daily Show," who like many "Daily Show" alums went on to host his own show. Minhaj anchored "Patriot Act" on Netflix, an incisive show that took deep dives into important topics. His work was so impactful, in fact, that the show won a prestigious Peabody Award. Nevertheless, Netflix canceled the show. "I'm surprised we lasted as long as we did," Minhaj told The Daily Beast, insisting that he was hopeful the show would land somewhere else.

If you still can't quite place Minhaj, you might know him because he's also a standup comic. He's released two specials through Netflix, "Homecoming King" and "The King's Jester." The latter includes a long segment about a "Patriot Act" episode that wound up banned in Saudi Arabia, causing Minhaj to reckon with comedy's role in political discourse. "For me, this whole special was an exploration of how I can clearly define what I'm willing to say now," he explained to The Hollywood Reporter. If you like something thoughtful with your laughs, then Minhaj is the comedian for you.

Jenny Slate portrays Allysa

Jenny Slate was cast in "It Ends With Us" in the role of Allysa — Ryle's sister — in May 2023 (via Deadline). Unlike some other roles in the film, fans largely responded positively to Slate's casting news. "Jenny Slate as Alyssa in It Ends With Us is exactly how I pictured her," one fan wrote on Twitter.

Fans of "Saturday Night Live" may or may not remember that Slate was on the show for a single season, back in 2009. She was miserable. "I did feel heavily critiqued at the time as a performer and a comedian," she told The Independent, recalling that it was her first real brush with fame and criticism. She may also look familiar from her recurring character of Mona-Lisa Saperstein on "Parks and Recreation," a character who spawned several iconic gifs. "All of the people there were so kind and wonderful to work with," she told SF Gate. Other credits include "Girls," "Obvious Child," and "Everything Everywhere All At Once."

If Slate's face seems unfamiliar, you still may recognize her voice. She's the creator and voice actor behind the viral-hit-turned-acclaimed-film "Marcel the Shell with Shoes On." She also played Tammy on "Bob's Burgers," Judy on "The Great North," Harley Quinn in "The Lego Batman Movie," and Gidget in "The Secret Life of Pets."

Alex Neustaedter (Young Atlas) liked how he looked in American Rust

According to IMDb, Alex Neustaedter has been cast as the younger version of Atlas Corrigan. He hasn't been spotted on set yet, but that might be because the movie's production was halted indefinitely in June 2023, put on pause amid the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. "We want to express our deepest gratitude for your incredible patience and unwavering dedication throughout this challenging period," director Justin Baldoni wrote in an email to the cast and crew (per Deadline).

Neustaedter has been working consistently since 2009, so he might seem familiar from a number of projects. He's in the music video for Imagine Dragons' single "I Bet My Life," for example. He played Bram on three seasons of SyFy's "Colony," starred as Eddie in Netflix's "Things Heard and Seen," and been part of the cast of films like "Low Tide" and "A-X-L." In the latter film, he played a young man with a robotic dog.

He may be best known as a lead on Showtime's "American Rust," playing a main suspect in the murder that forms the show's central mystery. However, Neustaedter in that show may not look like the Neustaedter who shows up in "It Ends With Us." In an interview with Assignment X, he noted that he put on weight for "American Rust." "I was like, 'Okay, this is the heaviest I've ever been, and probably the most different I've looked,'" he said. "But I liked it."