Josephine Langford, who leads the screen adaptation of the “After” franchise, hasn’t been able to move on quite yet. Although filming wrapped last fall for the third and fourth films, the release schedule — “After We Fell” came out this fall, and “After Ever After” will be released next year — means that she’ll be talking about her breakout role into 2022. But she’s hopeful that she’ll get to do her goodbye tour in person.
“We had a premiere and a press tour on the first movie and we were able to travel to so many places and luckily get to interact one-on-one with fans,” she says. “We haven’t had so much of that experience now because of COVID-19, and I’m hoping — I’m being told — that next year things will resume.”
That fan interaction is paramount for a film that hinges on a dedicated following who watch not for their cinematic value but for a dedication to the two central characters. Langford and costar Hero Fiennes Tiffin are the real-life stand-ins for “After” stars. “I think it has nothing to do with me. I think it has to do with the books,” says Langford of the films’ resonance. “The love of the characters in this story is really coming from what’s being set up in the books. And so we’re really lucky that it’s followed through to the films.”
She also points to the idea that romance is compelling in and of itself — and fans of literary romance love to see their favorite lovers come to life off the page, be it “Bridgerton,” “Fifty Shades of Grey” or “Twilight.”
“Romance can be addictive if it’s done effectively,” she says. “When you watch or you read an effective romance and you’re transported into it and you feel like you’re in it — even if it’s not intentional and it’s subconscious — it releases dopamine and serotonin in your brain. And I think it literally becomes addictive and magnetic and you’re pulled to it. I think that’s probably partially responsible for why this stuff gets such a strong pull and reaction.”
The final two “After” films saw an important addition to the production crew: an intimacy coordinator. “It makes a big difference,” says Langford of working with Corrin Evans for several days before they started filming last fall. “And I think it’s very necessary if you’re doing movies with multiple sex scenes in them,” she adds. “It’s helpful to figure out the choreography of the scenes and get the comfort level right, and make sure you’re telling the story right.”
Looking back, Josephine, who grew up in Australia with older sister and fellow actress Katherine Langford, is grateful for the big-picture opportunities that accompanied her role in “After”: learning more about the film industry behind-the-scenes, the ability to come over to the U.S., new friendships, exposure and name recognition. And, she’s just proud to see the entirety of the project through to the end, for the sake of the fans.
More recently, Langford has been busy reading potential scripts and is preparing to shoot her next project early next year, although it hasn’t yet been announced. “I’m scared of commitment. So I’m not drawn to TV — I’m drawn to film,” says Langford of her affinity for certain projects moving forward. “I think it’s partly why I became an actor.”
Earlier this year, she starred in Amy Poehler’s ensemble teen film “Moxie,” and has another film, “Evolution of Nate Gibson,” in postproduction. She also recently participated in a live reading of “The Great Gatsby” for Acting for a Cause, which is raising funds for amfAR. The video of the reading, which also features Kaia Gerber and Nat Wolff, will debut online on Nov. 19 at 9 p.m. EST. (Langford reads the role of Jordan Baker.)
“I want to work with people who are passionate about what they’re making,” says Langford. “Passion is probably the biggest attraction to me when it comes to a job now,” she says, adding that her choices are being driven by the people involved and less by genre. “I’m definitely not writing out romance,” she adds.
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