Science may be by the book, but love, not as much.
In the exclusive trailer premiere of The Sun Is Also a Star, Natasha (Grown-ish’s Yara Shahidi) declares that she doesn’t believe in love after a chance encounter with Daniel (Riverdale’s Charles Melton), who feels chemistry right off the bat.
Shahidi herself isn’t quite as jaded.
“I do!” the actress, 18, tells PEOPLE in this week’s about whether she believes in love. “Because like when you hear my parent’s story, it’s kind of hard not to. But I understand her [Natasha’s] cynicism, and I understand that it’s something I think so many peers in my generation, no matter what your identity is, can relate to on certain levels.”
Melton, 28, considers himself a hopeless romantic just like his character, who falls in love over the course of one day in New York City.
“I feel like as you get older, this idea of like falling in love in a day or in a moment, falling in love at first sight, kind of becomes something that’s not as common, or looked at as young,” he says. “There’s different levels and layers to love, but the whole idea of like someone and [knowing] this is the person I’m meant to be with, I really admire that about my character.”
The actor, dating his Riverdale costar Camila Mendes in real life, also feels like the world needs to see more leading men wearing their hearts on their sleeves like Daniel.
“In romance movies, you never really see the guy being head over heels,” Melton says. “You never see the modern man going out of his way to be a hopeless romantic. The beautiful thing about this character, Daniel Bae, was that he’s so vulnerable. He’s all about this girl and the whole idea of masculinity, like hiding your feelings and not showing love, I don’t believe in that s—.”
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Aside from figuring out their relationship, Natasha and Daniel also have major personal dilemmas they’re dealing with on the day they meet. Daniel has an interview with Yale, where his parents want him to study medicine, although he’d prefer poetry, and Natasha is fighting for her family not to be deported back to Jamaica.
“It’s what we’re witnessing right now,” Shahidi says of the timely plot point. “We’ve also witnessed on a regular basis that there has never been a moment in which people of immigrant families have had the peace of mind that where they’re going they’re able to call home. And because of that, it was really important that this storyline was made so serious and taken as seriously as the love story itself. It is not peripheral to the storyline.”
- For more on Charles Melton and Yara Shahidi, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on stands Friday
All of those factors help the movie, based on Nicola Yoon’s YA novel by the same name, tell the story of two characters figuring out themselves at a pivotal point in their lives, something Shahidi and Melton can relate to.
“Charles is definitely the dreamer, whereas I’m the person who has my history book,” Shahidi says. “It made the journey more authentic and it made the relationship interesting because it was more parallel to what was actually happening in the story.”
The Sun Is Also a Star opens on May 17.