All My Life: How Much Is Based On The Real Life Love Story, According To The Cast

Harry Shum Jr and Jessica Rothe in All My Life
(Image credit: (Universal))

For all the beautiful romances Hollywood has made, some of the greatest love stories are never told. For Marc Meyers’ All My Life, it’s hard to miss the “based on the true story” element, because the couple’s story looks like it was ripped right out of the pages of a tear-wrenching romance novel. The Universal flick takes a rare page out of fact to tell the moving tale of Solomon Chau and Jennifer Carter, a Canadian couple who were faced with the sad realities of liver cancer just ahead of saying their wedding vows.

If you’ve seen All My Life, chances are you’re ready to learn about what’s fact and what’s fiction between the couple Jessica Rothe and Harry Shum Jr portrayed in the film. We’ve got you covered with some exclusive words from the cast. Now, since the movie is based on actual events there’s not technically spoilers, but if you have yet to see the film and want to go in blind, here is your spoiler warning. Oh, and while we’re throwing warning signs up, maybe grab some tissues too. Now, let’s get to the tragic, but beautiful real story behind All My Life.

Harry Shum Jr and Jessica Rothe in All My Life

(Image credit: (Universal))

Who Were Solomon Chau And Jennifer Carter In Real Life

The Chau couple’s love story actually starts in St. Catharines in Ontario, Canada at Soloman Chau’s 19th birthday party. While he was celebrating with friends in his hometown, he met Jennifer Carter, who was visiting a friend at a nearby university when they met. After meeting, the pair shared a series of phone calls per The Toronto Star leading to Chau traveling in a snowstorm to visit her in Pickering, which is about two hours away from St. Catharines. Chau later moved down to Toronto to be closer to Jen and went to college in George Brown College to become a chef. Years later, Chau really did pop the question to Jen with a flash mob dance proposal beneath CN Tower.

The winter after their engagement, Chau was diagnosed with liver cancer and quickly underwent surgery after learning the news. Three months after that, he was told he didn’t have much longer to live. The couple got married within weeks of the sad news with the help of a GoFundMe set up by their friends, which raised $50,000 in donations. The couple had 128 days (four months) as a married couple, during that time taking a vacation in Niagara Falls, had parties and bought a dog before he passed away at the age of 26 back in 2015.

Jessica Rothe and Harry Shum Jr in All My Life, dancing

(Image credit: (Universal))

All My Life Got Jennifer Carter’s Permission To Loosely Adapt Their Love Story

Based on those few facts about Jennifer Carter and Solomon Chau alone, you may notice a few differences here and there about the story presented in All My Life. For example, the movie was filmed in New Orleans, not Toronto and the first date in the movie involved them going on a run together and seemed to live close to one another. All My Life is loosely based on the true story. While speaking to Jessica Rothe about her relationship with the actual story, the actress talked about actually meeting with Jen Carter while working on the movie with these words:

In addition to all of the amazing stories and videos that she shared with Harry and I, she gave me the permission to make this character my own. She said ‘I’m happy to answer any of your questions, but please don’t feel beholden to doing an impersonation of me or worry about a choice you're making. You should really make your Jen what you want her to be.’ And the fact that she gave me that freedom, I think in some ways probably meant that the character was even more Jen than it would have been if I had been trying to replicate someone because who she is as a person and what their love was like was so spontaneous, fun, bright and beautiful and also heartfelt and deep… So it meant I was just present with Harry as opposed to trying to replicate something.

As she describes, Jen Carter was consulted during the making of All My Life and she decided to give the cast permission to make the story its own instead of asking that it be a play-by-play or imitation of the couple’s life. The most important element to the real person was that the message of their story came through and it certainly does.

Chrissie Fit, Kyle Allen, Harry Shum Jr, Jessica Rothe and Marielle Scott

(Image credit: (Universal))

How The Supporting Cast Fits Into The True Story

But what about All My Life’s ensemble, which includes the talents of Saturday Night Live’s Jay Pharoah, West Side Story’s Kyle Allen, Pitch Perfect’s Chrissie Fit, You’s Marielle Scott and The Greatest Showman’s Keala Settle? The friends of the bride and groom are an important part of the film and the true story because they were part of major events in their marriage, from the proposal to GoFundMe. Here’s what Jay Pharoah and Chrissie Fit told CinemaBlend:

Jay Pharoah: From what I was told, their friends were loosely based off of their friends, so I don’t know if there was a real Dave in there, but it was definitely based off of it… kind of like Eminem’s Jimmy in 8 Mile, kind of.Chrissie Fit: I actually hadn’t heard the real story until I read the script and then I went on a deep dive and lots of tears were shed… I loved that it was a regular, normal couple. It wasn’t like this crazy, fairytale thing, it was like a backyard love. I was definitely all in on the story, and as far as my character, she’s pretty much a composite of a bunch of Jen’s real friends so that gave me a little bit more freedom to make her kind of her own. I used some examples of friends and also the version of a friend that I want to be or want to have.

The main source for the true story seemed to be Jen Carter, with the rest of the ensemble not being specifically based on real people within the love story. It makes sense if you think about it. The beauty of All My Life is how it's a regular couple, and therefore the need to carefully adapt each person was not necessary. Plus, it allowed these actors to play around and not feel constrained to portraying a certain person.

Harry Shum Jr and Jessica Rothe in All My Life

(Image credit: (Universal))

Jennifer Carter Was On Set For The All My Life Wedding Scene

The most striking element we learned about All My Life in regards to its connection to its true story is the fact that Jennifer Carter was present for the movie’s wedding shoot. In the romance, this is one of the most heart-wrenching sequences in the film. Can you imagine going to your “own wedding” in a sense? It sounds wild. Harry Shum Jr said this about having Carter there for the sequence:

It was my first time meeting her [at the wedding] during the vows and we worked really hard on. Usually vows are very meaningful, when you’re getting married you’re making a commitment, but this one hit a little differently because you’re making a commitment, but there’s also that element that no one really wants to talk about – the elephant in the room. All eyes were on Sol and in including Jen, after you did it you have all those feelings, which I think was the right pressure to have, especially when Sol was having that hesitation going through with it. I think it’s a hard place to be, but when the scene was over I got to meet Jen and everything was lifted off of me because giving her a hug and knowing how easy it was to talk to her without there being judgment. It was just carrying that message for Sol was the most important thing for her.

So sweet! It sounds like Carter’s involvement only enriched the experience and it's nice to see that she got to be part of the making of the movie. All My Life is now playing in select theaters and will be available on demand later in December. Check out what movies to look for next year with CinemaBlend’s 2021 release schedule.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.