EXCLUSIVE: Ashley Liao (Physical, Fresh Off the Boat) and Ross Butler (Netflix’s To All The Boys franchise, Shazam!) have signed on to star in Loveboat, Taipei, a romance film from ACE Entertainment and 1 Productions Film Co., which will enter production in Taipei later this month.
The film from director Arvin Chen (Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?) is based on Abigail Hing Wen’s New York Times bestselling novel of the same name. It centers on Ever Wong (Liao), whose summer takes an unexpected turn when her parents surprise her with a trip to Taipei for a cultural immersion program. Ever is surprised to discover that she hasn’t signed up for homework and history lessons, but instead for a summer-long free-for-all the locals and other students call “Loveboat.” It quickly lives up to its name when Ever finds herself trying not to fall for two attractive, but wildly different boys who are vying for her attention, while at the same time finding the courage to defy her parents’ high expectations and pursue her true passion: dancing.
Butler will play the dashingly handsome Rick Woo. Embarrassingly nicknamed “Boy Wonder” by the smitten Ever, Rick is an infamous prodigy in both sports and scholastics who has yet to meet his match… until he meets her.
Nico Hiraga (Booksmart) and Chelsea Zhang (Daybreak) are also on board to star, with Hiraga playing Xavier Yeh, the free-spirited heir to an international tech empire who is more interested in making art than he is in making millions—until he finds himself falling for Ever. Zhang will potray the confident and clever Sophie, Ever’s best friend at Loveboat who partners with her on an epic summer of exploration, love, heartbreak, and growth.
Loveboat, Taipei draws inspiration from its author’s own participation in the Loveboat program as a teen. The novel was published in January of 2020 by HarperTeen, an imprint of HarperCollins Children’s Books. Matt Kaplan’s Ace Entertainment (To All the Boys, The Perfect Date) is producing the film adaptation, with Butler and Wen serving as exec producers.
“These past few months have been a dream watching this cast filling out. I’m thrilled to have the incredibly talented Ashley and Ross take the lead in bringing Ever and Rick from the pages of my story to the screen, and to have Chelsea and Nico on board as well,” said Wen. “I can’t wait to see sparks fly as these four pal around Taipei, and for everyone to meet the amazing ensemble and magic still to come.”
Liao has recurred on the TV side in Apple TV+’s Physical and Netflix’s Fuller House, among other series, finding guest-starring roles in NCIS: Los Angeles, Speechless, Fresh Off the Boat and more. She’s previously appeared in the films Secret Society of Second Born Royals and Always Be My Maybe, among others.
Butler will next be seen in the Castille Landon film Perfect Addiction and Shazam! sequel Fury of the Gods, in which he reprises his role as Super Hero Eugene, along with Netflix series Army of the Dead: Lost Vegas and Lionsgate Television’s Swimming with Sharks. The actor has previously appeared on the TV side in Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens, 13 Reasons Why, K.C. Undercover, Riverdale and more. He’s also appeared on the film side in Raya and the Last Dragon, two To All the Boys films (Always and Forever and P.S. I Still Love You), and more.
Hiraga will next be seen in Michael Lewen’s romantic drama Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between, Universal Pictures’ Rosaline and Amazon series The Power. The actor found a breakout role in Olivia Wilde’s 2019 comedy Booksmart and has also appeared in such films as North Hollywood, Moxie, Godspeed and Skate Kitchen, along with HBO’s Ballers.
Zhang has appeared on the TV side in HBO Max’s Titans, Netflix’s Daybreak, and Disney Channel’s Andi Mack, finding roles on the film side in such titles as The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.
Liao is represented by Innovative Artists, Semler Entertainment and Skrzyniarz & Mallean; Butler by UTA and Ziffren Brittenham; Hiraga by WME, Wonder Street and Myman Greenspan Fox; Zhang by Innovative Artists and Monster Talent Management.