‘After”s Josephine Langford Is Ready For Her Close-Up

From the moment Josephine Langford was announced as the actor who would bring Tessa Young to life, fans of Anna Todd’s After series have welcomed her with open arms. “When I was cast, so many people told me that I looked more like Tessa than Tessa,” the actor told MTV News.

It is striking to actually talk to Langford after having been introduced to her on screen as the 18-year-old small-town girl she plays. In some ways, they’re distinct (Langford’s Australian accent is the dead giveaway) and in others, they’re exactly the same.

“I would like to think we’re both smart. We’re both driven. I think that when we get passionate about something, we get absorbed in it,” she suggested. But there’s something more innate that makes it feel like Tessa and Jo residing on the same plane — a deep, confident, comfortable sense of self — which is exactly the quality that makes millions of fans fall for Tessa in the first place.

What started as Harry Styles fanfiction quickly took on a life of its own as more readers found After on the self-publishing platform WattPad. The story inspired spin-off fanfic, with a community of fans fueling new stories, artwork, and roleplay Twitter accounts. Before long, Todd had sold the rights to the movie adaptation and snagged a book deal, which transformed the story she wrote largely on her phone into a five-book series.

But it wasn’t just Hardin Scott — the bad boy inspired by One Direction’s resident rockstar — that had fans swooning. It was the self-assured girl with a plan who uncharacteristically falls for him and slowly unravels the future she had envisioned for herself. Or, at least, the one her mom had envisioned for her and that she had been generally cool with.

That’s another difference between Tessa and the 21-year-old actor who portrays her. While the character rebels against the safe path laid in front of her, Langford has been asserting hers for her entire life. “I was always the kid who was putting on plays, and so, I have no idea how to describe it,” she said. “I just have always wanted to be an actor.”

And so, with a determination not unlike Tessa’s, she put everything she had toward achieving that dream, booking her first paid acting job at the age of 14 and moving her way through a stream of auditions and near-misses. “I’ve tested for so many shows, I’ve gotten so many jobs and then not gotten them, or you’re about to get a job, and you don’t have a visa,” Langford said of the industry she shares with her sister, Katherine, without a hint of frustration.

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