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“All My Life” actors Jessica Rothe and Harry Shum Jr. discuss new film at virtual roundtable

Inspired by a true story, the emotional, romantic film depicts a young Canadian couple as they celebrate their love in spite of a cancer diagnosis

Actors Jessica Rothe and Harry Shum Jr. reflected on the importance of living in the moment after starring in the new film, “All My Life,” at a virtual roundtable Thursday afternoon. 

“All My Life,” directed by Marc Meyers, centers on the love between Solomon “Sol” Chau (Shum) and Jennifer “Jenn” Carter (Rothe), a young and newly-engaged couple who always strives to live in the moment. The pair believes that they have their whole life ahead of them until Sol is diagnosed with terminal liver cancer, changing the course of their lives. Quickly, they must figure out how to handle this new revelation, and what to do about their wedding that is many months away. With the help of Sol and Jenn’s friends and family, an online fundraiser is assembled to help them plan their dream wedding in just two weeks. The film is currently in theaters and will be released on premium video on demand Dec. 23. 

Shum and Rothe found it important to stay true to the real relationship between Jenn and Sol, and sought guidance from the real Jennifer Carter. Carter gave the actors the freedom to approach the project artistically and to take the relationship into their own hands. The actors shaped their portrayals with the help of pictures and videos provided by Carter, as well as conversations with her.

“Having her give us this blessing was a real gift and allowed us to roll up our sleeves and find in between the lines where we can connect and find this connection that's not just important to portray but to connect with the audience as well,” said Shum, who starred in “Crazy Rich Asians,” “Glee” and “Shadow Hunters.”   

The pressure Shum and Rothe felt to honor the real Chau and Carter was eased by their chemistry. 

“Luckily for me, I had Harry as my co-star who is such a magnetic, charismatic, kind, big-hearted talent, and so in that way it made it very easy to step on to set and put those kinds of fears and all of the second-guessing and the doubt aside and just be present with him and find our own kind of intimate fun dance through this relationship,” said Rothe, who played Theresa "Tree" Gelbman in the “Happy Death Day” series. 

During especially heavy moments in the film, the actors drew inspiration from their own loss. The story has stayed with the actors, especially Shum, who admitted that it took him “a little bit to get out of that (role).”  

During the roundtable, Rothe and Shum highlighted the larger-than-life proposal scene featuring Sol and Jenn’s friends and family. While filming, Rothe asked if she could skip the proposal rehearsal in order to have an authentic reaction. The proposal featured singing, dancing, balloons and boats.

“I was just blown away by the love that was just radiating from every single member of our cast,” explained Rothe. “By the end of the day I just had mascara down my cheeks and my cheeks hurt because I was grinning ear-to-ear. I was just so filled with joy and love” 

“All My Life” is currently in theaters and will be released on premium video on demand Dec. 23. The majority of the film finished shooting in December 2019, but Rothe filmed a few extra scenes in the Bahamas at the beginning of 2020. While in the Bahamas, Rothe had expected to travel all year and have her own extravagant wedding. But the pandemic caused her to cancel her plans. 

“You can't plan how your life is going to fall out but it doesn't mean that you can't still take advantage of living and love and laughter and connecting with people that matter to you,” Rothe said.“It just might not always happen in the way that you thought it would.” 

Shum remarked on the significance of being an Asian-American man in a leading role in a romantic movie.

“I feel very lucky and honored, but also, I would be lying if I didn't say ‘about damn time.’ Not just for me, if it was someone else that had this role I would be championing it,” he said. “I hope it continues more for more people that can see themselves on screen not just as a face but as a whole human and can play characters that are complex and not oversimplified.” 


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