“After really showcases an authentic romance and all of its beauty and all of its ugliness at the same time,” says writer-director Castille Landon, who directed After Ever Happy and After Everything of the After franchise. “It feels really real and relevant and I think we’re so exposed to this concept of a fairy tale romance that when you get into the real world, you find that’s not at all how things are.”
The film was written as an original story by director Castille Landon and is the first installment not based on one of the titular novels.
In the first four films, fans followed the ups and downs of Hardin and Tessa’s relationship. After Everything takes place where After Every Happy left off.
The fifth and final installment of the After franchise finds Hardin (Hero Fiennes-Tiffin) struggling to move forward. Besieged by writer’s block and the crushing breakup with Tessa, Hardin travels to Portugal in search of a woman he wronged in the past – and to find himself. Hoping to win back Tessa (Josephine Langford), he realizes he needs to change his ways before he can make the ultimate commitment.
After Everything wasn’t supposed to happen at all
But while editing After Ever Happy, the filmmakers realized there were some unanswered questions.
“When I read the script the first time, I was instantly drawn to it,” Tiffin says. “I felt we really needed to explore this side of him. It makes a lot of sense to add this last missing puzzle piece to the story.”
The creative team wanted every aspect of the film to reflect its tone. They changed up a lot in this film: the sets, the style of filming, and the dynamic of Hardin’s motivation while adding that Hardin’s wardrobe even brightens and evolves by the end of the movie to reflect his transformation.
By now Tiffin is used to playing a dark, moody character – so the bigger surprise for him and fans might be seeing Hardin in a different light. “Having that balance between the darkness and the light while still being as truthful as we can to reality and the characters has been a challenge, but an enjoyable one,” Tiffin says.
After Everything explores Hardin’s inner life, showing how he needs to change before being ready to fully commit to another person
“He’s got so much past trauma and confusion in his head,” says Hero Fiennes Tiffin, who has gained worldwide recognition by playing Hardin. “He can’t be his best version of himself to the people he loves unless he heals himself.”
In need of a change, Hardin heads to Portugal to make amends with Natalie (Mimi Keene), a woman he treated badly in the past.
“He’s very aware of the fact that he owes Natalie a big apology,” Tiffin says. “It’s a big part of growing up, isn’t it? Taking responsibility. It takes a lot to admit that you’ve made a mistake.”
“I think that’s an incredibly brave thing to do,” Mimi Keene says. “It speaks volumes about the kind of person that Natalie is. She’s an incredibly strong and confident woman.”
After Everything marks Keene’s first appearance in the franchise. (Viewers may recognize her from the Netflix series Sex Education or the British soap EastEnders.)
Tiffin jokes that high temperatures, black clothes, and fake tattoos aren’t always a great combination for the beach, but he says he had a blast filming in such a sunny location.
“I think it’s really nice to show Hardin in a completely different environment and see how he responds,” he says. “Ultimately, the After franchise is for the millions of fans around the world who have connected with the films and Anna Todd’s book series. And although After Everything may tell a different kind of story – viewers will find that most of their favorite hallmarks of the series remain.
“The most beautiful thing for me about playing this character and making these movies is when I meet people who say that After’s changed their life – sometimes they say it saved their life. I’m so proud and honored and grateful.”
And although After Everything likely marks the final time Tiffin steps into Hardin’s shoes, he doesn’t see it as a goodbye.
“After will always remain a special place in my heart,” he says. “I’ve traveled to so many places, met so many new people, and learned so many new skills. It’s done so much for me I can’t really put it into words.”
Castille Landon is a graduate of Harvard University and has her master’s from Oxford University and has quickly made a name for herself in the industry with her nuanced approach to making films focused on the lives of strong, young women. She recently directed the film Perfect Addiction. Prior to After Everything, she directed the third and fourth installments of the After franchise. Her first two films, Albion: The Enchanted Stallion and Apple Of My Eye, were both distributed worldwide by Netflix and Sony Pictures. More recently, in the world of television, Landon’s original half-hour comedy series, Worker’s Comp sold to Media Rights Capital (MRC). In 2014, she was the Executive Producer of I Believe In Unicorns, which premiered at SXSW and screened at festivals around the globe. Landon has also spent time in front of the camera, having acted in numerous films and television shows, including Justin Long’s directorial debut, Lady Of The Manor, Sex Ed.