Above image: Shirt by Fendi SS19, jeans by Levi’s SS19, necklace worn throughout, HERO’s own.
A decade on from his big screen debut playing Tom Marvolo Riddle (aka, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named) in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, this spring 21-year-old Hero Fiennes Tiffin makes the transition to leading man, starring as Hardin Scott in the fiercely anticipated Young Adult feature, After.
Born from Stan culture, the film began as a series of Harry Styles’ fan fiction published on Wattpad [an online storytelling platform] before the writer, Anna Todd, landed a major publishing deal and switched out Harry’s name for Hardin’s. Portraying the emotionally-charged bad boy to Josephine Langford’s ambitious freshman, it was the reimagining of this age-old love story that Fiennes Tiffin explains first won him over.
Zoe Whitfield: What first attracted you to this project, After?
Hero Fiennes Tiffin: Initially it was the complexity of the character. Obviously all characters have layers, but the role I play has deeper, darker layers that he really suppresses, which is gold for an actor. The project came and went a few times – I remember it kept popping back up – so I was quite familiar with it because I’d done so many auditions before it went forward.
Zoe: And you shot in Atlanta right?
Hero: We did. It was fun, from what I could experience of Atlanta anyway, because we spent 95 percent of the time on set or in an air-conditioned trailer, so we had very little time to explore. But from the minimal exploring that we did, I loved it and want to go back. They’ve got a huge aquarium, one of the biggest in the world. I love aquariums so that was fun, but that was pretty much the extent of our exploration.
Zoe: Do have fish yourself?
Hero: I don’t. I like the idea of having a fish, but I don’t want to get a fish tank until I can like, incorporate it into my house properly. Do you know what I mean? I feel like fish tanks that just sit there and look a bit…
Zoe: Out of place?
Hero: Yeah. I’m go hard or go home, so I’m not going to do it until I can properly do it.
Zoe: With After, were you aware of the book – and the Harry Styles fan fiction – before the film came your way?
Hero: No I had no idea, and I was almost surprised that I had no idea – seeing the numbers behind it. It was weird how that slipped under my radar.
Zoe: How do you feel about the Stan culture from which After was born?
Hero: If it gets extremely hardcore it’s not the most healthy. But generally, across the board, it’s quite nice. You know, when it’s controlled.
Zoe: Did you know you have a Philippine street team dedicated to spreading the Hero word on Twitter?
Hero: What do you mean by Philippine street team?
Zoe: There’s a Twitter account in the Philippines with 542 followers who go by the @HeroFTPH handle. Do you find that kind of attention weird?
Hero: Yeah, it does feel a bit strange – it takes a bit of time to get used to. But I guess, it’s still a form of admiration and respect in what I’m doing, so I’m going to take the positives from it and appreciate what they’re doing.
Zoe: You recently used Instagram to support your friend’s fashion label, is that something you’re conscious of, given you’ve got nearly half a million people watching?
Hero: One million percent. I think everyone should support their friends, especially if they have a platform to do so. Having the ability to do that is amazing.
Zoe: I saw on a panel you did you mentioned your friends roasting you for your modelling work?
Hero: It’s a friendly roast. To be fair, I could work in a café and I’d get roasted somehow [laughs]. It’s just a bit of banter, but they’re all very supportive. The jokes like that keep you grounded, it keeps me in good shape.
Zoe: And how did you find the responsibility of playing a lead in After?
Hero: We were very well supported by the writer and director, who were on set every day. We spent loads of time at Jenny’s [Gage, director] house, really in-depth going over everything – also playing Fortnite with her kids a lot too [laughs]. So I didn’t feel alone at all, even though I was away for two months and I’ve never been away for that long before. We all got along so well. I can imagine with long shoots people probably go back to their hotel rooms by themselves, but we were lucky to have a cast and crew who all got on so well.
Full interview available in the latest HERO, Issue 21, HOT WIRED, available now.