After’s Hero Fiennes Tiffin Was ‘Reluctant’ To Do Another Romance, Here’s Why His New Movie First Love Changed His Mind

For the past four years, Hero Fiennes Tiffin has been playing the Hardin to Josephine Langford’s Tessa in the popular After franchise, a set of romance movies adapted from Anna Todd’s best-selling books. As the 24-year-old actor gets ready to say goodbye to the hot-headed role later this year with After Ever Happy, Fiennes Tiffin latest movie, First Love, keeps him in a familiar genre. But as he notes, he’s being “intentional” as to not pigeonhole himself into one on-screen persona. 

Not unlike Robert Pattinson after he wrapped on the Twilight movies, Hero Fiennes Tiffin is overwhelmingly associated with his After identity, as it prepares to conclude with its upcoming 2022 release. So why make First Love? Here’s what he told CinemaBlend: 

I was very aware when reading the script of how different [the First Love role] was, and that was part of what drew me to it. I was reluctant to do another romance because I was aware I wanted to kind of diversify my portfolio and work on different genres and kind of test myself in that way… Because of how different the film was tonally and how it's really like the other side of the romance coin and completely different in that sense, equally, similarly the characters are, Jim compared to Hardin, they really are kind of different ends of the spectrum. And I feel like I played into that a little bit, but I feel like it was just naturally what the character was like on paper was so different from Hardin.

In First Love, Hero Fiennes Tiffin plays a softer, more sensitive love interest, who wears his heart on his sleeve and is much more internal when it comes to handling conflict. His character, Jim quickly falls for high school classmate Ann (Sydney Park) amidst his parents (Law & Order’s Jeffrey Donovan and Diane Kruger) going through financial struggles during the 2008 financial crisis. The actor continued, comparing the two romance roles: 

When I play Hardin, sometimes I wish that he would take a breath and take his time and think before he acts a little bit more and when I played Jim, I was like, ‘Oh yeah, I get to a bit of this’ and then I found myself wanting to, you know, punch my dad in the face or throw a lamp at wall, like Hardin does. So, yeah, it's quite funny how the grass is always greener, but I find myself always wanting to do something different and finding myself to kind of be in the middle of where all the characters are to who I am as a person.

The actor has spent a lot of time playing Hardin in the After movies and, as he admits, he missed some aspects of the more headstrong role in First Love. But at the same time, he was happy to try a new kind of leading man for size. Ultimately, the two roles are nearly polar opposites of one another other. While After often plays into the dramatic elements of the relationships, FL remains quite innocent. The actor said it reminded him of “old movies” he had been coincidentally watching just ahead of seeing how his latest movie turned out. The actor called the film’s tone “patient” and “gentle” (and he's right). 

First Love is directed by A.J. Edwards, who previously edited romantic dramas To The Wonder with Ben Affleck and Knight of Cups with Christian Bale. He also wrote/directed 2014’s Better Angels (also with Kruger) and 2018’s Age Out starring Tye Sheridan, Imogen Poots and Jeffrey Wright. The talent involved in the new movie also excited Hero Fiennes Tiffin, with the actor saying this during our interview: 

Being able to work with such legends [Diane Kruger and Jeffrey Donovan] as my parents – they exceeded expectations. I feel like some of the scenes I've had with Diane where she kind of goes from zero to a hundred, I found myself forgetting I'm acting because I'm so immersed in her performance. I learned so much and Jeffrey is just all of them. Jeffrey was kind of paternal and fatherly, like in knowing that I was a younger actor and was just so supportive. I learned so much and I felt like part of the reason I took the role again was to work with people like that. I knew I'd learned so much, and I really did.

Moving forward, Hero Fiennes Tiffin is most certainly diversifying his career and bringing his First Love experience, between upcoming action movies The Woman King and The Climb, a horror comedy called The Loneliest Boy in the World and a drama called The Man in the Box. He'll also star in After We Happy, which closes out Tessa and Hardin’s love story on September 7. The franchise will reportedly continue with numerous spinoff films without Anna Todd, Fiennes Tiffin and Langford

You can check out the actor’s new romance, First Love, now playing in theaters and on demand

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.