Forces of Spring: Hero Fiennes Tiffin, "The Romeo"

Forces of Spring: Hero Fiennes Tiffin, "The Romeo"

A smash-hit young-adult book series hits the big screens, launching a future leading man.

A smash-hit young-adult book series hits the big screens, launching a future leading man.

Photography: Chris Colls

Styling: Ilona Hamer

Text: Trey Taylor

This feature appears in the pages of VMAN41, our Spring 2019 issue, on newsstands March 1st! Pre-order the issue here

A semi-known actor being uploaded to insta-celebrity has only happened a handful of times in the history of fandom. It happened to Daniel Radcliffe and Robert Pattinson, Jamie Dornan and Ansel Elgort, and it’s all but guaranteed to happen to Hero Fiennes Tiffin this spring. The golden boy in-waiting plays the romantic lead in After, hitting theaters this April, a parental advisory–pushing YA adaptation being projected as Fifty Shades for the 1D generation.

The model-turned-actor’s combo of leading-man looks and Hollywood pedigree (thanks to filmmaker mom Martha Fiennes and actor uncles Ralph and Joseph) is surefire kindling to ignite a bona-fi de star that will only be fueled by After’s rabid teen following and salacious subject matter. But at present, bundled up in a Soho studio, the 21-year-old Londoner is still best known as young Lord Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Like most Hogwarts alum, he has his lucky totems. Dipping into his hoodie, he pulls out his new gold chain and pendant—a miniature chimney sweep he picked up at a local jeweler in Brixton.

HERO WEARS DIOR MEN

“I used to wear only one chain that my sister gave me ages ago. I was never huge on jewelry. I just liked having my one chain,” he says in a disarming baritone that betrays his acting-royalty roots and posh Battersea postcode.

But wearing a beanie, a black What We Wear hoodie, and black Madewell skinny jeans, he’s anything but posh. Today, the 6’2” Scorpio looks as though he might hop on a Harley and speed away—which he probably could if he had to: “My brother had [a Harley],” he says, referring to Titan Fiennes Tiffin, 23. “I bought a motorbike when I was 16,” he says. “When we were younger [Titan and I] would ride wherever we could get away with it.”

A Harley would be an ideal fit for the bad-boy image he portrays in After. The original e-book, uploaded as One Direction fan fiction by then-25-year-old author Anna Todd, would go on to be read one billion times on Wattpad—an online playground for Harlequin yarns. It soon landed Todd a six-figure publishing deal, a spot on the New York Times Best Seller List, and a lucrative option by Paramount. But to the uninitiated, the mega-cult of After often comes as a surprise, as it did for Fiennes Tiffin. “I had never heard of the book before,” he admits. “Hearing how many fans it has and the numbers that it did, I was shocked.”

HERO WEARS JACKET, TOP, PANTS DSQUARED2, NECKLACE CHROME HEARTS, BRACELET DAVID YURMAN

"I'm self-assured, but I wouldn't think of myself as the most outgoing. I get my confidence through auditioning: even getting one audition builds you up as a person."—Hero Fiennes Tiffin

With After stans increasingly turning their fandom toward Fiennes Tiffin, one question might be: does he him- self feel sexy? “I don’t think you’re allowed to judge yourself on that! I think you should have it in your head that you are, but I don’t think you should say it on record,” he offers. “But I guess ‘sexy’ is a word that can mean different things. I feel like everyone should see themselves as ‘sexy’ in their head, but I don’t think you should ever say it out loud.” Needless to say, he doesn’t have to say it himself. He has plenty of wordsmiths ready to write their own fan fictions about Fiennes Tiffin online.

Since the announcement of Fiennes Tiffin’s casting last July, After fans have flooded the web with photos and praise, like one tweet reading, “Ladies, we’re done drunk texting our exes, we only drunk DM hero fiennes tiffin now.” Some have gone so far as to dissect the few paparazzi shots of Fiennes Tiffin, zooming in to his biceps or his V-cut abs. What does he make of all the attention? “What the fans do, the effort they put in, is so great,” he says with diplomacy. “There are definitely elements of it that are overwhelming, and elements of it that are so cool, but you have to take it with a pinch of salt.”

It wasn’t the popularity of the book that appealed to Fiennes Tiffin so much as the complexity of his character, Hardin, whom the unsuspecting Tessa (Josephine Langford, sister of Katherine) encounters on her college campus. While he gleaned that Hardin walks the line between mysterious hunk and brutish jerk, he held off on reading the book, which is told entirely from Tessa’s perspective. Instead, to get into Hardin’s particular headspace, Fiennes Tiffin chatted daily, often for hours on end, with author Anna Todd, who was on set and coproduced the film.

HERO WEARS JACKET, TOP, SHORTS DIOR MEN

He’d worked hard to nail a leading-man role; Fiennes Tiffi n can list off the projects he’s been up for but failed to secure: there’s Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, The Hate U Give, and Stranger Things’s second season. “I remember watching [them] and thinking, what was the part I auditioned for? And [one character] would start saying the lines from the audition, and I’m like, ‘Oh, I remember!’” he says. “[But] sometimes after a while you think, I must be doing something wrong.”

Which is not to say he lacks confi dence. “I’m defi nitely confi dent in myself,” he says. “I’m self-assured, but I wouldn’t think of myself as the most outgoing. I get my confidence through auditioning; even getting one audition builds you up as a person.” But there are at least a few projects in the offing for which no audition will be necessary: he’s already signed on for the planned sequels to After.

While Fiennes Tiffin says many fans have yet to approach him IRL, he knows that may soon change. Whether he’s ready for fame is another story. “I don’t know if you can be ready for that kind of stuff,” he says. As for the Fifty Shades comparisons, this master-in-training is unfazed. “Obviously [Fifty Shades] did really well,” he says. “So being compared to that isn’t a bad thing... [But] some scenes won’t be too fun to watch with the ’rents!”

Credits: HAIR TOMO JIDAI (STREETERS), MAKEUP ARTIST MARIKO ARAI (THE WALL GROUP), PRODUCER CARLY LOUISON (SERLIN ASSOCIATES), PHOTOGRAPHY ASSISTANT DANIIL ZAIKIN, DIGITAL TECH JEANINE ROBINSON, STYLIST ASSISTANT MACKENZIE THIRY

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