After a lovely conversation with First Love director, A.J. Edwards last week, it was great to speak to the lead actor, Hero Fiennes Tiffin. You may know him as the heartthrob lead in the After films (2019-2022), Hardin Scott, but his turn in another romance film, First Love is a great performance to watch for those who are unaware of his work. He’s a lovely gentleman and I cannot wait to see where his career goes.
I spoke with Hero about his experiences on First Love, specifically working with Sydney Park and playing Diane Kruger’s son, but he also spoke about his upcoming roles, wanting to diversify from the romance genre, and gives a little tease as to what’s to come in the fourth After movie, After Ever Happy.
Coastal House Media: Hi, Hero, it’s a pleasure to meet you. How’s your day going so far?
Hero Fiennes Tiffin: Good, pleasure to meet you too, Andrew. The sun’s out in London, which doesn’t happen often, so I’m happy.
CHM: Before we get too far into this interview, what led you to take on this role in First Love?
Fiennes Tiffin: Do you know what? That’s a really good question. I’ve done a bunch of romance films called the After franchise, and I was keen to start exploring other genres and then I’ve got another romance come through and I was out to my agents, “Guys, I thought we were trying to move away for a bit,” and they said, “Just read it, it’s a great script, great director.” And I read it and it was a great script with a great director. So I thought I’d always give the time to talk to A.J. [Edwards], the director, and when I did it was his belief in the project and specifically belief in me that kind of persuaded me to do it.
I think I was quite ready on that call to say, “I’d love to keep doing romances every now and then, but I think I’m quite keen to diversify my portfolio by doing different genres,” and yeah, it was his belief in the project and belief in me, I guess, that led me to say yes. And yeah, I don’t regret any of it. I was so, so lucky and happy and learned so much working with all those actors and with A.J. [Edwards].
CHM: Do you recall your first zoom meeting with A.J. [Edwards] by any chance? I spoke to him last week and he vividly remembers that and I just was curious to hear your perspective.
Fiennes Tiffin: Yeah, I do. I remember it very well. I was in the hotel room in Wales that I was staying in while I was shooting The Loneliest Boy in the World. And again, he might not know this, but my perspective was very much: “I’m going to hear him [out] and let him persuade me and stay open-minded,” but I kind of entered that call being aware that I might not want to do another romance so soon off during the back of [the] After [movies], but again, in the first minute and a half, his belief in me is kind of what persuaded me to do it, so I remember that call distinctly.
CHM: You just mentioned how many romance movies you’ve done, but what do you hope that audiences take away from First Love and find unique about it?
Fiennes Tiffin: Well, I think the difference between specifically First Love and the After franchise [is] that they’re completely different sides of the romance coin; the character specifically the character I play in First Love, Jim, is so different to the character Hardin in [the] After [movies]. And I think the dynamic of their relationships [are] different and just how they tell the story. I mean, you can have a genre movie [be] completely different from another movie in the same genre, and I felt like if I was going to do another romance [movie], it was important that it was the other side of that coin, which First Love definitely was.
CHM: Shifting gears back to A.J. [Edwards], I know you talked about his belief in the project, but what was unique about him as a director, as opposed to maybe some others you’ve worked with? And was there anything that you learned in particular from A.J. [Edwards]?
Fiennes Tiffin: All my experience as an actor has come firsthand on-set — I’ve never done any training. A.J. [Edwards] is a little bit old school in the best way and quite experimental and testing and I think he knows the project so well. [And with] his editing background, he knows how he’s going to piece it together. He would throw out some things here and there, like say we had a couple of hours free, he’d be like, “Let’s do post-breakup,” and instantly, just like that, [you’re] making [things] up as you go. So very improvisational and [he’d] just chuck you in the deep end, which I think you get some great stuff out of it.
Also, [having] the ability to just work without having to worry too much about continuity is so freeing. I think nowadays when you work with a bunch of cameras [it] is so important to make sure [that you] sip the water on the same line and do the actions at the same time, which can sometimes take away from the performance because you have to juggle so many different physical things in your head and beats to get. But A.J. [Edwards] allowed us to just live it and just say, “Do you want to do that scene completely differently?” [and then on] take two [say], “Do whatever you want,” and that allowed such a spontaneous, real, authentic kind of performance [that] made me feel so free, and I’m really proud of the work. I think his style was different and I can actually speak for a while about how kind of different he is to every other director I worked with, but I loved it.
To sum [it] up in a nutshell, [it] is just so freeing. There [are] no limitations on what you can do or when you should do it, he will make it work. If you can put the performance out there, he’ll make it work within the film.
CHM: I want to talk a little bit about Sydney [Park], who you share a lot of your screen time with. Could you describe her in three or fewer words as a screen partner?
Fiennes Tiffin: I’m going to need more than [three words] — I can’t do it in three or less. She’s so fun to be around. It’s kind of nuts, I don’t know how she’s always so positive on-set. It feels like she’s done this a million times and she just enjoys it and has fun with it.
She [will be] joking around, doing accents, playing around, and then, “Action,” and she’s straight into character. I think all the actors on it were amazing to work with, but Sydney [Park] just kept me in a good mood, she’s so positive. And just like I said, she feels like she’s a veteran. I mean, she’s obviously so young and new to the game, but she’s clearly had enough experience to feel so comfortable and that kind of has a knock-on effect on you. I feel like everyone around someone who’s comfortable and happy on-set kind of feeds into that as well.
CHM: Did the chemistry come naturally for you guys? Did you guys have to hang out a little bit before the production?
Fiennes Tiffin: We hung out a little bit. We didn’t get too much time, but we went to grab some food and we played a bit of golf with a bunch of other people through[out] filming, but we didn’t get too much time. I think we just naturally got on quite well, which was good [and] I hope that shows. We’re both Scorpios as well, so that might have something to do with it [laughs].
CHM: One of the established actors in First Love is Diane Kruger. Not many people can say she played their mother, what were some memories you had working with her? And did you learn anything working closely with her?
Fiennes Tiffin: There’s a scene in the film where she starts to get a little bit emotional and I genuinely forgot I was acting. I felt like I was [in the] front row at the most amazing theater performance and I suddenly realized, “Oh my God, it’s my line!” and I’ve just been so absorbed in having this front row view of such an incredible performance. Everyone on it was so great in that own way [and] I’ve only got great things to say about everyone, but I think Diane [Kruger] was really aware of her talent going in and that was a big part of taking [on] the project like, “I’m playing Diane Kruger’s son.”
I feel like at this stage, I’m always so keen to work with great actors like her [Diane Kruger] because I know I’ll learn so much and I really did. I was lost for words at some points; the way she can just turn it on and off. It was a pleasure to play her son.
CHM: What’s your favorite memory attached to the film? It sounds like you guys had some fun off-set, but what was your favorite memory?
Fiennes Tiffin: I don’t know if I have a specific thing, but I just enjoyed the whole process because we shot in L.A. [and] I stayed 20 minutes from where we were. And I’m sorry, I’m not specifically answering your question as to a specific thing I loved, but the general thing I love so much was just how it felt like we were making — in the best way — a fun movie with a bunch of friends who had come together. Every location we’re shooting is 10, 15 minutes from somewhere else, and I’m sure we did everything by the book, but we definitely made the most of having a small crew and the ability to just be like, “Let’s shoot over there,” and “Let’s shoot over there in natural light,” and everyone was so collaborative; it just felt like we were doing it for fun, not work. I think the general vibe [and] feeling on-set was what I remember distinctly as the most fun.
CHM: Do you remember the scene where your character takes Sydney Park’s character on their first date by the water? A.J. [Edwards] had described that day and I don’t know what your perspective as an actor [is] compared to his, but I think if I’m not mistaken, you guys had to shift to that location. I don’t know if you were aware of that. Do you remember that day at all?
Fiennes Tiffin: Yeah, I think [that] for the actors, [it] felt really freeing and liberating and we’re [just] doing this [and] that. I’m sure for [the] producers, it was a nightmare because you’re constantly having to adapt, improvise and overcome. But that location is so beautiful and it just felt, again, like we drove an hour down that way, we saw a beautiful spot [and said], “Let’s go shoot there,” and that authentic nature of coming to the location the same way the character would had a domino effect all the way down to [the] performance. I think all of the locations were so beautiful, I remember that day so well, and as I said, [it was] so fun for us, but I’m sure [that] for the producers, it was probably a bit challenging, logistically. But I’m so proud of all the locations and spots we filmed in.
CHM: Your character in the movie makes a mixtape for Sydney [Park]’s. Have you ever done that in real life?
Fiennes Tiffin: I’m so bad with playlists. I’ve got so many songs [but I] just think of it, search it, and then years later I’m like, “Oh, I haven’t thought of or heard that song in ages,” because I was too lazy to make a playlist. So no, that’s something that I should learn from Jim, the importance of making mixtapes and playlists. But A.J. [Edwards] actually sent us a Spotify playlist of the kind of music around the time  that Jim would maybe listen to and that was really helpful to get into character. I think I can take a leaf out of A.J. [Edwards] and Jim’s book in that way.
CHM: If you were to make a mixtape for somebody, could you name one song that you would put on it?
Fiennes Tiffin: There’s a song by Sam Sparro called Black & Gold that I always forget to add to playlists and I always come back to; it feels kind of timeless, so maybe that one.
CHM: I don’t know anything about the After movies, quite frankly I get them confused with Linklaters’ Before trilogy, so could you give me a little bit of an elevator pitch for these films?
Fiennes Tiffin: Listen, I think the fanbase of the books specifically, and then the films secondarily kind of speaks for itself in a way that I think the story is so brave in showing a relationship that is so far from perfect [yet] both parties worked so hard to make it perfect. I think the fanbase speaks so loudly in terms of how much people resonate with that and how much criticism you can get for portraying a toxic relationship. But no one wants to watch a film where everything goes right, do they? So I think that kind of teeter in the balance between documenting a relationship that’s challenging where both parties try so hard in that poignant, important part of your life when you’re coming of age; similarly to First Love.
I think [the] After [movies are] definitely high-stakes, dramatic [movies], you know? Everything is turned up to 10 out of 10. If you’re looking for a steamy romance, I don’t think you’d have to look much further than [the] After
CHM: If I’m not mistaken, there’s a fourth one coming out this year, correct?
Fiennes Tiffin: Yes. I honestly lost count at this point, but there is; I’m really happy.
CHM: You mentioned there’s like a rabid fanbase so could you give me any sort of tease for what’s to come in this?
Fiennes Tiffin: I think naturally, as you know, people who have read the book know we’re coming to an end. If there’s anything that’s in the books that you think should be in [here], that probably [will] be in this one.
Without saying too much, we are coming to an end, so I think if you’ve seen the first few, you definitely need to see this one. And if you haven’t, then you need to go to watch them.
CHM: You mentioned wanting to kind of get out of the romance genre a little bit, do you have any other projects coming up that maybe aren’t in the romance genre?
Fiennes Tiffin: I definitely do. I shot something in South Africa called The Woman King, which I’m so excited for. And again, I learned so much working with some amazing actors on that [film such as] Viola Davis, Lashana Lynch, Sheila Atim, Jordan Bolger, John Boyega, yeah, I can’t wait for that. That’s very far from a romance, especially [with] my character, so [I’m] happy to diversify the portfolio. I think that one comes out around mid-September.
First Love will be released in theaters and on demand on June 17 by Vertical Entertainment.
EXCLUSIVE | Alma Poysti and Jussi Vatanen On How ‘Fallen Leaves’ Became Such a ‘Learning’ Experience
Fallen Leaves premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and went on to win the Jury Prize. On the other hand, Aki Kaurismäki’s direction, screenplay, and performances by Alma Pöysti & Jussi Vatanen received critical acclaim. Finland has decided to send the MUBI film for Best International Feature at the 96th Academy Awards.
Apart from being praised at several prestigious festivals, the Finnish movie has received a lot of love from the viewers in its theatrical run. Whether it is storytelling or acting performances, the Aki Kaurismaki directorial is getting the recognition it deserves. Alma Poysti and Jussi Vatanen are impeccable in their roles and continue to take the audiences by storm. Luckily, I, on the behalf of Coastal House Media, had the opportunity to speak with both stars at the movie’s press conference earlier this week. We discussed how their experience on stage aided in preparing for such complex roles.
Both the actors have been astonishing on the stage, but we all know that movies are a different ball game. I asked how they mentally processed the acting experience while starring in Fallen Leaves and although they shared different anecdotes from what they learnt while shooting the film, both actors admitted that they were “grateful” for this experience. While answering the question, Poysti said she loved how silence can also mean so much in movies and it’s something that she is still processing. She said, “I’m so inspired and so grateful for this experience, and the amount of humanity that runs through our roles. Work is so beautiful and it actually means something to people. This kind of purity inspires me to investigate how much can you take away and when less is actually more. Also, you have to be quite brave to let the camera in when you are taking off the masks and taking away the pretending.”
“Being as bare as one dares can create a fascinating and beautiful space. Trusting the silence reveals a silent dialogue within and between characters, where few words are needed but carefully chosen, with nothing extra. I’m still processing and enjoying contemplating this concept,” Poysti added.
Meanwhile, Vatanen echoed the same sentiment and credited the filmmaker to make things so easy for them. He said, “It definitely was a learning process and we got to witness old-fashioned filmmaking that is so minimalistic. I and Poysti, we both learned how can you achieve a lot by doing so much little and deliver a lot of emotions by just being present in that moment. Of course, Aki is there to help us and you just need to follow what he is trying to paint on the canvas. So, it took away all the pressure.
The actors also shared that the movie was filmed in a mere 20 days, jokingly noting that they’ve spent more time discussing the film than actually shooting it.
Fallen Leaves in currently playing in theatres across the US.
EXCLUSIVE | ‘Joram’ star Manoj Bajpayee Reveals He Never Takes Time To Get Out Of His Characters: ‘Never Had The Luxury…”
Actor Manoj Bajpayee is known for playing intense roles. From Bhiku Mhatre in ‘Satya’ to Professor Siras in ‘Aligarh,’ Bajpayee has always enthralled us with his impeccable acting performances. His upcoming movie, ‘JORAM,’ is no different and sees him playing an immigrant labourer.
In Joram, skillfully directed by Devashish Makhija, we follow the poignant journey of Dasru, an immigrant laborer. His life takes a harrowing turn when his beloved wife is tragically murdered, and he finds himself entangled in a relentless and unforgiving system determined to defeat him at all costs. Faced with unimaginable challenges, Dasru makes a desperate choice to protect his infant daughter, Joram, and embarks on a daring escape to his long-forgotten homeland nestled deep within remote forests.
The movie, which was screened at this year’s JIO MAMI Mumbai Film Festival, received a standing ovation from the audiences. Bajpayee, who was present at the screening of the film, opened up about how he prepared for the role of Dasru and how he manages to come out of them.
While responding to a question posed EXCLUSIVELY by COASTAL HOUSE MEDIA journalist Aayush Sharma, the renowned actor revealed that he drew upon his personal experiences of originating from a humble village to authentically portray the character of Dasru.
“I come from a village. My journey has been very, very long. I have met several people. Such has been my journey that I don’t need to go to jhopadpatti to play a jhopadpatti guy. There are so many experiences stored here (points to his brain). I had to simply refresh m memories from my childhood. That’s how my character Dasru cam alive to me. I felt like I had seen him before. I just had to construct him for this film,” Bajpayee said.
On the other hand, the ‘Gulmohar’ star admitted that he never had the luxury of taking a lot of time to get a character out of his mind. Bajpayee added, “As to how I come out of it, I jump to my next film (laughs). Nowadays directors like Devashish Makhija are very, very demanding. They just want to suck you in and want you to forget everything and take a plunge in their world. I try to be a sincere listener to my directors. It’s in my DNA that I don’t get nostalgic about my films. All of us actors are like that. We find our ways to approach our actors. When we don’t work, we try to relax and go back to reading, spending time with family, etc. However, I have heard several actors taking a lot of time to come out of their characters. That is a luxury I’ve never had.”
The film also stars Smita Tambe, Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub and Tannishtha Chatterjee in pivotal roles. ‘Joram’ is scheduled to hit theatres on December 8.
INTERVIEW | Petersen Vargas, Kaori Oinuma, and Gillian Vicencio Talk Filipino Dark Comedy ‘A Very Good Girl’ and Its Overwhelming Success: ‘A Big Achievement For Us’
With movies like ‘Parasite’ and ‘Shoplifters receiving worldwide praise, there is no doubt that Asian cinema is finally getting the recognition it deserves and it is in no mood to stop at all. Joining the bandwagon is Petersen Vergas’ new movie ‘A Very Good Girl,’ starring Dolly De Leon and Kathryn Bernardo in the lead roles. The movie tells the story of Philo (Bernardo) and what happens when she is fired from her job by a stylish retain mogul named Mother Molly (De Leon). However, things go out of control after the firing as Philo embarks on a journey to take revenge and is certain about how she wants to destroy Molly’s empire.
Apart from Bernardo and De Leon, the film also stars two young stars of Filipino cinema – Gillian Vicencio (Joenna) and Kaori Oinuma (Rigel) – who have surprised everyone with stunning performances. As per our review, ‘A Very Good Girl‘ is a roller-coaster ride, filled with brilliant performances, high fashion, and superb production design. Its captivating narrative and visually stunning presentation keep audiences engaged and entertained from beginning to end. The film has received a lot of praise from critics as well as viewers for its storytelling, acting performances, and visually stunning production design.
Coastal House Media caught up with the director Petersen Vargas and actors Gillian Vicencio and Kaori Oinuma to learn more about the creative process and what kind of preparations went into making ‘A Very Good Girl’ such a massive success.
You are working with two of the biggest stars in Asian Cinema, Kathryn Bernardo and Dolly De Leon. Were the roles specifically written for them and they were the first choices for playing Molly and Philo? Also, do you think that the world will be surprised by their Mukti-layered performances?
Vargas: Yes! So, the way we developed the material like we were already thinking of Kathryn and De Leon. So yeah, those roles were tailor-made for them. But what was surprising was what they added to the roles because their performances provided more depth to the characters. It’s surprising because as you’ve said, Kathryn hasn’t done a role like this. So, I think a lot of people were very pleasantly surprised and embraced her character. Viewers call it the new era of Kathryn Bernardo. Meanwhile, as far as Dolly De Leon, I already knew she was gonna kill it, but seeing it in person, directing her, and seeing what she’s done for the film, it still amazes me I could never get tired of watching her thing.
Kaori, you are the jack of all spades. You are a dancer, model, and actress and you can sing as well. The future of Asian Cinema or Filipino cinema is looking bright when people see you on the screen. But what was the first instance where you felt that acting is something I want to do professionally and make my career in?
Kaori: Oh, my gosh! I fell in love with acting while doing my first-ever project, I wasn’t good at that time and even now, I know that there’s a lot to improve. But I just realized that for me, I realized that when you act, you’re free to do whatever you want to, to feel the needs of your character, and as a person, I am not that free. I think I want to dive into acting just because I want to be free, as a person, I can’t wait for that time that I’m free.
Gillian, your character, Joenna, is one of the most important ones and takes the movie in a whole new direction. When the script came to you and you got to know that you were playing this character, what was your first thought and what kind of preparations went in to make sure you nailed the character?
Gillian: You know, when they offered me this role, I just really accepted it, right there and then. But when I read the script, I understood the struggle and the pain of the people who are being taken advantage of, and for me, it’s important for this kind of situation to be known and to be represented. So, no matter how sensitive the topic was or what was going on with the character? I think it was time to spark some discussion about it, especially here in the Philippines. So, I discussed the creatives and directors about the backstory of the hierarchy, and I just did my best to portray it. I just hope that I did justice to the topic because it’s very important, it’s very, crucial.
Outfits play a very important role in this movie because it shows two very distinctive personalities of every character. Was that always a part of the movie? Or you thought of giving the story a spin by including this aspect while shooting.
Vargas: I think it was very much part of the DNA of ‘A Very Good Girl,’ just because it was like a showdown for me and costume design was very key in getting a glimpse of these characters. Like, once you see what those characters were, you’ve kind of like get to know them already, just from that visual. So, it was very important because we wanted to take this campy route very, very seriously. (laughs) I wanted it to be very over the top, I wanted it to be extravagant. So it was fun and because I think Philo’s character is a superhero. Like she, she dresses down to like her normal self, and then suddenly just transforms into a superhero with her with her killer outfits. Yeah, I think I’ve always just envisioned this film ending with two beautiful women in long gowns, but like, you know, like, a drip in blood and jewels. That was always the vision. So yes, definitely, outfits were a big part of the storytelling.
So, the movie has been released and it got amazing reviews. How are you guys feeling after the amazing reviews/social media reactions and do you think such reactions would be able to tell the world that Filipino cinema is back with a bang?
Vargas: The response has been very overwhelming. We are very grateful that we are successful at the box office and people are flocking to the cinemas, giving this film a chance. It’s just a pleasure to see those seats filled out. We’re very grateful and I liked how people started talking about the important themes of the film. Of course, we wanted to engage the audiences in a very fun way in this dark comedy journey, but beneath that, it was very important for us that people talked about the important topics of being good and accountable and this whole story of womanhood. So yeah, I appreciate it a lot and I hope that the audiences outside of the Philippines could feel the same way and support the movie in the same manner.
Gillian: I agree with Peterson. We came out from a pandemic and the Philippine cinema was not doing good. But, we are finally having viewers in theatres right now because of ‘A Very Good Girl’ and I’m very happy that ‘A Very Good Girl’ is the first Filipino film to premiere in Hollywood. So that’s a very big achievement for us and that’s one of the reasons why I’m so happy and grateful. It’s overwhelming. It’s overwhelming. I’m just happy with the way people are receiving the movie. Thank you so much for appreciating our work.
Kaori: I think they said it all. Seeing people go back to the cinemas is a very big achievement for me and all of us. The responses and the praises for the movie, I mean, Oh my gosh, it’s overwhelming. The best thing is that people are now open to the new genre and they’re committed to us as well. We love them. We love very good people.
‘A Very Good Girl‘ is currently playing in theatres across the US.
Elizabeth Debicki’s Diana Stars Despite Major Fumbles In ‘The Crown’
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD On November 16, 2023, the first instalment of Netflix’s final season of “The Crown” premiered, leaving me...
Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire | Official Teaser
In Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, the Spengler family returns to where it all started – the iconic New York City firehouse...
The Marvels | New Clip — Marvel Entertainment
Carol Danvers gets her powers entangled with those of Kamala Khan and Monica Rambeau, forcing them to work together to...
Madame Web | Official Trailer — Sony Pictures
Spin-off from Spider-Man centering on a clairvoyant mutant named Madame Web.
The Marvels Going Higher, Further, Faster!
Plot Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel has reclaimed her identity from the tyrannical Kree and taken revenge on the Supreme...
Marvel Studios’ Echo | Official Trailer — Disney + and Hulu
Maya Lopez must face her past, reconnect with her Native American roots and embrace the meaning of family and community...
Disney’s Latest Star “Wish”
Plot Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Wish” is an all-new musical-comedy welcoming audiences to the magical kingdom of Rosas, where Asha,...
‘The Holdovers’ Review | Paul Giamatti, Alexander Payne Reunite For This Year’s Most Beautiful and Poignant Comedy
“They don’t make them like that anymore” is one sentence that we hear a lot when it comes to cinematic...
‘Nightingales In The Cocoon’ Review | A Captivating Tale Celebrating Hope and Joyous Shared Moments
Nightingales in the Cocoon is a vivid and heartwarming portrait of transformation and connection in a bustling city. The short...
Reviews2 weeks ago
Maestro: Bradley Cooper’s Leonard Bernstein Biopic Is A Symphonic Triumph In Cinematic Artistry
Comic Book Movies2 weeks ago
Madame Web | Official Trailer — Sony Pictures
Animation2 weeks ago
The Garfield Movie | Official Trailer — Starring: Chris Pratt
Comedy4 days ago
Netflix’s Crashing Eid Review: Love, Culture, and Differences