Josephine Langford, Hero Fiennes Tiffin, Dylan Sprouse and author Anna Todd talk to ET about the sexy 'After' sequel.
If you've read Anna Todd's best-selling After novels or watched the 2019 movie adaptation, you're familiar with just how steamy and volatile the romance between Tessa Young and bad boy Hardin Scott gets. But in real life, the actors who play the central couple, Josephine Langford and Hero Fiennes Tiffin, are exact opposites of their characters -- their off-screen dynamic much less explosive than what Hessa (the chosen couple name) goes through.
"We're good friends. We get along," Fiennes Tiffin, 22, tells ET's Cassie DiLaura of filming the intimate scenes in the After series. "The set is super professional and I think cast, crew, production and everyone from the start has made it like that. Obviously as you go, the fact that we worked together before, you don't see each other for a whole year and you come back and you can pretty much just pick up where you left off. We're super lucky to be able to do more than one film and every time it just gets -- I wouldn't say easier -- but there's less ice to break each time."
"I think it has a lot to do with the environment you're in and when you're working with professionals and everyone knows what they're doing, it's just really easy to get back into it," Langford, 23, tells ET.
The sequel, After We Collided, which is out this Friday in the U.S., picks up right where the first film leaves off. Tessa and Hardin have broken up, and they're both trying to move on. She lands a cushy internship at Vance Publishing Group, where she catches the attention of Trevor Matthews (Dylan Sprouse), a young, good-looking bespectacled finance guy who is the exact opposite of Hardin. As her complicated relationship with Hardin gets even messier and his childhood trauma bubbles up to the surface, their roller-coaster connection may not withstand the obstacles thrown at them.
"Everyone was really inviting and welcoming, and the fanbase is rabid because they're really passionate about it, which was cool to see," Sprouse, 28, tells ET of joining the franchise. "It's nice to step into a series or a project where people are really impassioned to like it so much, and so for me it was nice. It was easy. They already mentioned the ice had already been broken, so I just kind of walked onto set and everyone was enjoying themselves and knew each other and it made for a really good filming environment."
Todd acknowledged that there was added pressure to get the sequel right after fan response to the first film, which earned $69 million at the box office, was mixed at best.
"Especially because a lot of the fans, as much as they went and saw After, they weren't necessarily happy with the way it turned out," the 31-year-old author tells ET, "so we learned from that mistake for sure. I also agreed with them, in a way, so I get it. But there was a little more pressure just because we already had all the success, so when you have that, there's obviously a little more pressure."
Todd promised fans will "definitely" be satisfied with the follow-up movie, which is directed by Cruel Intentions filmmaker Roger Kumble, and lightens up in tone and leans into the subversive, dark humor the 1999 teen film made famous. "Fans in other [countries] have seen it. They're all like, 'This is exactly what we wanted,' so I'm like, 'Yay, we listened to you. We figured it out.'"
While After established Hardin as a mysterious bad boy who Tessa quickly falls in love with and has lots of sex with, After We Collided digs into why he may be the way he is. See: an abusive father and a traumatizing childhood.
"When they talk about the story, they always talk about the sex or this or that, but they never talk about the trauma, the therapy, the years of time they spent apart, so I was so glad to talk about that because otherwise, at the end of the day, you just have a bad boy who's a jerk for no reason," Todd explains. "It doesn't have any depth, so a lot of times, I get very frustrated when people don't read the books or... in the first movie, we don't understand why he is that way. We focused heavily on, or as heavy as we could, on him... He has mental health problems and he has an addiction and it's not just a cute boy who's mean sometimes."
Hardin's personal journey in the sequel may tee up where he goes in the third and fourth movies, which are already filming in Europe. "Yeah, definitely," Todd hints. "If they go the right way, then yes, the goal would be to show a full-on character arc and development for both of them. But especially for him and his addictions." Though she wouldn't divulge what awaits the characters in the coming movies, she said fans need not worry: "I'm excited and happy for the fans that they get the next movies."
Langford and Fiennes Tiffin said it was exciting reading the next chapters in Tessa and Hardin's love story.
"Reading a script for the first time, you have this bit of sweet reaction where it's a bit like, 'Aww,' but 'aww' because it's over and yeah, I don't know what we can and can't say. But I think it's bittersweet. If I can wrap it up in one word, that would be it," Langford says.
"It feels like we're in a pretty nice pace and it's kind of routine now, to be honest," Fiennes Tiffin adds. "We're really lucky to have this same base, same production, same people. We just pick up where we left off each time and it's a real luxury, to be honest, to have the same team [and] to be working with each time."
After We Collided is available in select theaters and On Demand in the U.S. on Friday, Oct. 23.
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