“After Ever Happy” Star Hero Fiennes Tiffin on Goodbyes, Taylor Swift, and Gut-Wrenching Screams

“I enjoy letting out a gut-wrenching scream,” he laughs.
Hero Fiennes Tiffin in middle surrounded by After movie stills with Josephine Langford
David M. Benett/Courtesy of Voltage Pictures. Art treatment by Liz Coulbourn

Some spoilers ahead for After Ever Happy.

Hero Fiennes Tiffin has kept preparing his goodbyes to the After series, but the end never seems to come. He’s not mad at this; over Zoom, he’s cheerful and smiling, hinting at news he won’t share just yet.

The franchise’s fourth installment, After Ever Happy, is out this month; the movie was supposed to mark the end of Hero and costar Josephine Langford’s time as tumultuous couple Hardin and Tessa. How does he feel about all this coming to a close?

“Do you know what?” he begins, the side of his mouth twisting up. “I just don't buy that anymore. The amount of times I've started saying goodbye and then I've come back for press or some sort of something… I don't put it past, as a universe and fan base and world, to be back again. And it's also nice because I've struggled to say goodbye so many times, so I'm here, but it doesn't feel as final as it is.”

What he’s alluding to is announced just a few days later — the cast has just finished filming a fifth After movie to finish up Hardin and Tessa’s story as young adults. (A Hardin-centric prequel and Hessa family sequel have already been announced, and Hero hints he’d be down to come back for a cameo.) The movie, titled After Everything, will likely pick up where After Ever Happy leaves off.

The fourth edition is sprawling in time and location, moving from Seattle to London to New York as Hardin and Tessa try to make things work. But they each have their own demons to fight, and the path to true love isn’t smooth. Let’s just say the ending of the film might remind you of a certain 10-minute Taylor Swift music video… one that Hero admits he hasn’t seen yet. “I've got it up right now, searched into YouTube, ready to watch when I have 15 minutes,” he says.

The push-and-pull of Hessa is part of the appeal of the series: a slow burn to end all slow burns. As Hardin, Hero plays a character who is trying to grow while constantly being reminded of family trauma and history of abuse. He’s dealing with substance use, he’s falling back into old habits. At several points in the movie, Hardin falls apart into sobs or screams.

“I enjoy letting out a gut-wrenching scream,” he laughs. “But if they ask you to do loads of takes, it does get to a point where you're like, ‘I'm sure we've got this, guys. I'm sure you can use the first one.’"

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In After Ever Happy, Hardin finds solace and redemption in writing. Yep, he commits the ultimate literary protagonist move of writing a book about his life and, of course, his love story with Tessa, who is understandably pissed he never told her about the book. (Move over, Dan Humphrey.)

Hero sees beauty in being able to argue whether or not Hardin was right to publish the book, but he agrees that he really should have told her beforehand. “If he wanted it to be a surprise, he could have at least turned around and been like, ‘I'm about to get published. What do you think?’” Hero says. “But to be already too late into it… it's a bit like the bet reveal in the first one. It's like, ‘Bro, you could have anticipated this and said it a bit sooner, you know?’ But he always gets beaten to the punch, doesn't he?”

For what it’s worth, Hero’s not sure he would ever write a book about his own life. “I don't think it would be very good,” he says, blunt. “And when I look back, I'm so lucky that doing all of this press and working in movies, you have so much footage of yourself and especially with social media and everything being up there and lasting forever, it feels sometimes like a bad thing, but actually it's really nice to know that I can look back and track my progress through that. If I do anything remotely interesting beyond this, then maybe I'll have more to write about. So far it would be a pretty short book, I think.”

Longtime Hero fans will know he got his start playing young Tom Riddle in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. But the After movies continue to be one of the most pivotal experiences in his career development. He’s 24 now and continuing to map out the kind of career he wants to have.

“I feel like I've been able to not just make four movies that I'm really proud of, but also practice my acting skills and social skills and learn more about the industry,” he says. “So now when I go on to do any other job, I'm so aware that After has fast tracked my learning and understanding of how films are made and how films work.”

Hero recently starred in another romance, First Love, alongside Sydney Park. He’s also branched out into more blockbusters, with a role in the Viola Davis-led historical epic The Woman King. Next, he’ll play a zombie in the heartwarming comedy The Loneliest Boy in the World. “The best way I can summarize the projects I want to do next is just keep it changing,” he says, “keep switching it up and try and do a little bit of everything.”

After Ever Happy is now available to stream on demand.