No one ever said love is easy, but “Hessa” just can’t seem to catch a break in the After franchise.
Based on author Anna Todd’s YA novels, the tortured on-again-off-again couple is back in the fourth movie, After Every Happy, which picks up immediately where After We Fell left off — Hardin (Hero Fiennes Tiffin) just discovered his mom cheating with the man who is actually his biological father, causing him to relapse and ultimately push Tessa (Josephine Langford) away all over again. But as Tessa soon has to deal with her own even more dramatic and tragic daddy issues, “Hessa’s” star-crossed romance faces more challenges than ever before.
A fifth movie, After Everything, has already been confirmed, but star Tiffin warns that fans may not be prepared for how this installment ends for the fan-favorite couple. “I think there will be mixed reactions, for sure,” Tiffin tells EW. “I’m aware that it might not be what most people expect, but also I think that’s the beauty of cinema, when you sat next to your best friend and you agree on so much and then the film ends and you’re like, ‘I thought this,’ and ‘I thought that,’ and that shows how much people care. Everyone’s opinion should matter and it’s nice when you can debate over what you think happened or should have happened.”
As Hardin and Tessa’s relationship continues to evolve, Tiffin enjoyed getting to explore new layers of both characters in this film. “Some of the stuff in the greenhouse towards the start of the film and just how that ties into with the young Tessa, I felt like that was a really beautiful way to show a bit more about her past,” he says. “Because we see a lot more about Hardin’s past, so it was nice to explore that side of things [in After Every Happy].”
After all the life-changing events that happened in After We Fell, Tiffin is excited for fans to see how Hardin has changed — and keeps trying to change — in this movie. “Everyone naturally has grown up, but I think Hardin’s really been trying from the start to not just grow up, but grow into himself and be the best version of himself,” he says. “It almost feels like at times everyone’s getting away from him in the way that they’re all growing up and getting on with their life, and he feels like he still isn’t at that point in his life where he knows who he is. He still needs to figure out himself and heal because he’s been through so much.”
Tiffin is proud to see how Hardin is “getting closer to being that best version of himself,” outside of the “Hessa” relationship — especially as they both face “a lot more adult issues” in this film. “They’re not in college anymore meeting for the first time and going to parties and with fewer responsibilities,” he says. “They’re now really trying to pay their bills and live in the real world, and it presents itself with different challenges as life does when you are growing up and you’re out of school and you are in the real world.”
That’s why he’s excited for fans to finally see this part of the After story. “Watching it back, it feels different,” he says. “It feels like a more grown-up version because they are more grown up. It’s so nice that not just the fans have grown up together, but I’ve grown up, the characters have grown up, and we’ve all been on this journey together.”
After Ever Happy premieres Wednesday, Sept. 7 in theaters.