U.S. Army wife Anna Todd turned to One Direction fan fiction while her husband was deployed in Iraq – can you blame her?? Inspired by Harry Styles, Anna began creating her own fiction, writing good-girl-meets-bad-boy romance, After, on her phone using the Wattpad app, publishing a daily chapter for over a year.
Frequently compared to the Fifty Shades trilogy, both originating in fan fiction, After has grown into a five-book series with 1.5 billion reads, available in 40 countries. Today this story has reached the big screen in After, with Australia’s own Josephine Langford (Katherine’s little sis) beating out hundreds of other actors to play Tessa Young opposite Brit hunk Hero Fiennes Tiffin as Hardin Scott. Girlfriend caught up with the duo in Los Angeles to talk all things After, One Direction and their famous family.
How aware were you of the After phenomena?
Josephine: I had no idea it existed right under my nose. I think we were both just living under a rock!
Hero: I was shocked to find how many people knew about it so I’m just excited we are on board and taking the journey further.
Your social media went through the roof after you were cast. Was that wild?
Hero: It was quite overwhelming initially and I didn’t go on for a few days although most of the reactions were positive.
Josephine: I was very lucky when I was announced because everyone was so supportive and I was told a million times that I look exactly like Tessa.
The After books were originally written as One Direction fan fiction. Did you like the band?
Josephine: I think they’re good but I never really listened to them although I know some of their songs.
Hero: I never saved any of their songs on my phone but I respect and appreciate their music. Lots of people love them so they clearly did something right. Music is so subjective.
Hero, you are playing an incarnation of Harry Styles in After. Have you ever met him?
Hero: No. I appreciate how my character was inspired by him at the start but, its come so far since then. I don’t know much about Harry but, from what I’ve heard, he’s not actually similar to him at all. Hardin is very much his own person.
You have lots of tattoos - just like Harry - in After. Are they your own tats?
Hero: I don’t have a single tattoo! I like the idea of them but I think I’m a bit scared of the commitment - to permanently ink my skin for the rest of my life. I guess we’ll see!
You both play college students in After. Did you attend IRL?
Josephine: No. I always wanted to be an actor so I’m happy with the path I’m on.
Hero: I didn’t because I was put off at the idea of going into debt for three years. It just wasn’t for me. There was nothing I wanted to do badly enough to go to university and acting was going well. I wanted to put my head down and really try my best with my auditions.
Do you share any traits with your After screen characters?
Josephine: I’m very organized, neat and driven like Tessa.
Hero: I like to think I’m as confident as Hardin. I think we share very realistic, almost cynical, views on life. Overall, I think we’re more different than we are similar.
Did you chemistry test for your roles?
Josephine: No. We actually met for the first time in a hotel lobby in Atlanta a week before shooting began. We went straight to a dinner and the next day we started rehearsals.
Hero: It would have been tough if we had no chemistry - hopefully it worked out.
You both have family in the film business. (Josephine’s sister is 13 Reasons Why star Katherine and Hero’s uncles are Brit actors Joseph and Ralph Fiennes.) Did your families have an influence on you?
Josephine: For me, it was just something I always wanted to do. There was never a movie or one event that made me go: Oh OK, this is why I want to do it. I could never imagine myself doing anything else.
Hero: My mum is a director and my dad’s a writer/DOP. They’ve always been very supportive in me doing what I want to do but also made me very aware that nothing is promised and I should always have a Plan B so I‘ve also taken jobs in the food catering industry because I love cooking and food. But my uncles always let me know that they’re there if I need to talk, but I don’t see them often because they’re so busy. When I do, its more interesting to talk about family stuff rather than work.
Hero, you featured in the final Harry Potter film as Tom Riddle, aged 11, as the younger version of your uncle Ralph Fiennes’ Lord Voldemort. How much fun was that?
Hero: Loads. Going back to school after was a bit embarrassing. I wanted to keep it low-key but my teacher told the class - luckily it was cool and my friends were all very supportive. It didn’t really change my life dramatically other than people started calling me ‘Potter’.
After is in cinemas June 6.
Watch below... the trailer for 'After'.