One of the biggest thrills of spooky season was having the pleasure of sitting down over Zoom with the two leads of horror/comedy, The Loneliest Boy in the World! Max Harwood and Hero Fiennes Tiffin are two of our favorite people to have interviewed so far! Join us as we dig deep into the cemetery grounds, and talk spoilers on their memorable new movie.
Max Harwood, best known for his transformative performance as Jamie in Amazon Prime musical, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, channels the outsider in us all through his depiction of troubled, kind-hearted Oliver, who just needs a friend. With shades of movies such as May, Warm Bodies, and Little Monsters, The Loneliest Boy in the World is still unlike anything we have seen before. Hero Fiennes Tiffin plays the recently-deceased Mitch, who through a bout of magical realism, becomes part of Oliver’s twisted new family! Check out our full interview with Max and Hero after the jump…
We caught The Loneliest Boy in the World back at the Popcorn Frights festival that we actually covered virtually. It gave us major Beetlejuice vibes! Can you both tell us about the sort of impetus of your involvement in the film?
MAX HARWOOD: Yeah, so actually, I was approached by the director of the film, and I read it and met Martin [Owen]. I just really was drawn to doing it.
HERO FIENNES TIFFIN: I got the script. I was really excited by it, just because it was so different to anything that I’ve done ever. I felt like, I’m gonna have fun playing a character who’s dead, and has absolutely nothing to lose. Then I spoke to a friend of mine who had worked with Martin the director before, and he said Martin was amazing and really fun to work with. Then we heard that Max was involved, and Max is amazing, too! So, ya know, I was excited from the moment I got the script, it was always going to be a fun one!
Max, we have to talk about that crazy flashback scene where your on-screen mother ends up electrocuted and skewered by a lawn gnome! What was it like filming this outlandish flashback?
MAX: It was actually really fun. It was a lot of practical effects. That was a rig, and it was very exciting. The set was crazy, crazy colorful. We were really leaning into the fantasy element of Oliver’s reimagined version of what had happened was like. Though it is a very traumatic flashback, it’s done in a very sort of exciting, overzealous, not taking itself too seriously way, if that makes sense. I think the effect that has is, you watch it and you’re like, ‘Oh, God, oh, no’, but it’s also like, funny!
For much of the runtime, Mitch is literally dead and falling apart. Hero, was it difficult for you to convey the proper emotions under all those zombie bandages?
HERO: You know what, I think my approach was Oliver’s perception of actors, and the character’s perception of their selves. We kind of had to throw the undead nature out the window when you’re when you’re playing it. Then it’s sort of practical—Mark and his prosthetics team, they do all the hard work in telling that story, and the rest of it we can just play as if they’re normal people.
The only difference was, I love the fact that it’s on the page that he’s happy-go-lucky. He’s just always sprightly and fun and confident, and I think it was it was really fun to play a character where I knew he had absolutely nothing to lose because he was dead.
A polaroid appears to bring the undead family in this movie to life. Who was each of your personal favorite member of Oliver’s new “family,” including their dog, Ninja?
MAX: I think my favorite obviously apart from Hero because I have to say Hero—I think my favorite member of the family was my dad, Frank. I think Ben [Miller] really really enjoyed himself making this film, and I feel like he brought so much fun to set. He brings that to life so vividly onscreen, and I think as an audience member, you can tell he’s really enjoying himself. He was tons of fun to play with.
HERO: If you’d said Susan [Wokoma], I would have said Ben. No offense to Zenobia [Williams], cuz she’s great, but she doesn’t have the screentime to really show what she’s got. With those two, the pet, Ben and Susan are hilarious! Like Max is saying on set just exude comedy. Everyone’s having a laugh, making jokes, and these guys are veterans of the game but they know their comedic timing and the comedic stuff well, so it was so funny watching them while they were filming. So since you’ve said Ben, I will go for Susan.
MAX: We all do really like each other, that’s why! We do really get on. We all stayed in a house together in Wales when we made the film. We had to live as a family in real life, and then going on set has this energy. The houses felt like a set, so we were specifically going to make a film, and the film comes across like we’re making a film—that’s a really rubbish thing to say, but the family stuff happened off-camera, and then what transpired onscreen is just us making a movie together. So there was a nice sort of synergy in that way.
The film’s physical zombie humor is super fun and is only complimented by the choice to set the movie during Halloween. Happy October! Can you share your favorite Halloween memory or costume?
HERO: Hmm. I’ve never been too good with my costumes for Halloween parties. I’ve tried to put contacts in, and couldn’t do it. I wore them for the movie, which was actually really good because we didn’t realize that I couldn’t. I’m supposed to keep my eyes open for a long period of time, and obviously human beings need to blink. The contact lenses were only for the visual effects of making our eyes look kind of dead. It ended up being so useful in helping us go a long time without blinking, so when we’re playing dead that was such a weird happy coincidence that happened.
Yeah, my best costume is not very good. I think I went to like a DIY shop, and bought for me and three of my friends painting overalls, and covered them in blood, and tried put contacts in and failed. Then got there, and just took the overalls off anyway. I’m terrible when it comes to fancy dress, man.
MAX: I love when I when I turned 18… I started going out to the club and to drink. I think I went as a skeleton one year. I felt really hot. And I think sometimes, Halloween is sometimes a bit of an escape time to just be a bit fun and playful. So maybe when I turned 18, I painted myself as a skeleton, and felt myself—not in a physical sense, in a metaphorical sense.
Making friends as an awkward teenager certainly isn’t easy. What advice would you give to lonely kids like Oliver who can’t seem to find a friend?
MAX: I think I have not like a cookie cutter answer to this. But I have quite an easy answer. I think actually just focus on the things that you like, invest in hobbies, and find your niche. You’ll find other people through finding things that you like, and don’t focus on finding a friend, focus on the things you like, and you’ll find friends through like-minded people. Finding people that like the things that you like, that’s what I would say.
HERO: I think that’s a really good answer, to be honest. I haven’t been asked that before or put as much thought to it as I’m sure Max has, but I feel like that is actually really true. Yeah, to focus on the things that you enjoy, and hopefully naturally you’ll find like-minded people through that. But I think it’s probably quite easy to fall into the trap of feeling like you need to change who you are to find new friends and be accepted. But that’s obviously not the case. If you’re weird and wonderful, there will be someone as weird and wonderful as you out there somewhere, I’m sure.
The platonic brotherly love formed between Mitch and Oliver during the film is simply beautiful. What was your favorite scene with each other?
HERO: For me, I really enjoyed all the stuff when I’m dead, and Max is moving me around. It’s actually really interesting as an exercise to really play dead, and try and relax everything in your body, and let Max do all the hard work. I did enjoy that… every time they called cut, I just burst out laughing because I’d been holding in it back.
MAX: I would be sweating in my overalls trying to pull Hero up a muddy slope towards the car. That was fun. You didn’t see lots of that in the film, like lots of that was probably long takes of me dragging Hero’s body, which I was sweating and stuff.
I’d say my favorite scene with Hero is the one that we shot in the bathroom. I don’t know, there was something—It’s like you’re at the end of the night. Having a little eye on the chats that you may not necessarily think that you have an eye on. It’s a very introspective sort of moment for the two characters. I feel like the little moments like that add the nuance and add to the relationship that you see that aren’t always you know, the action and the physical sort of stuff.
We like to ask this question of all our guests. Aside from The Loneliest Boy in the World which is obviously great, do you have anything exciting lined up that you would like to tease for our audience?
MAX: I’m NDA’d to the nines on things I’m on, but a couple of cool TV projects coming next year, and can’t say too much. But lots more exciting stuff! Lots more and different characters, different roles.
HERO: I’ve got a couple a couple of exciting things in the pipeline that similarly to Max I can’t really talk about, but I feel I did a bunch of movies. They’ve all come out in the same month. And now is a time where I’m like, oh, gosh, we’ve got to go work again. Find a job, beg someone to hire me! So yeah, we’ll get there eventually. I’m excited to get to a point where I can tell you guys what we’re doing next!
Max Harwood and Hero Fiennes Tiffin both undoubtedly have long careers ahead of them, and we look forward to following what they do from here (even if they can’t reveal it quite yet!) Don’t miss The Loneliest Boy in the World, in limited theaters now, and on demand and digital Tuesday, October 18th!
We reviewed the film as well here.