Review of Interview: Victoria Justice and Midori Francis Discuss Netflix’s Afterlife of the Party

Daljit Kalsi

Netflix’s latest comedic drama, Afterlife of the Party, releases on the streamer on September 3. Helmed by Stephen Herek (The Mighty Ducks), the film stars Victoria Justice and Midori Francis as best friends with very different personalities. However, things suddenly change when Justice’s character, Cassie, suddenly dies after an argument.

“A social butterfly (Victoria Justice) experiences the biggest party foul of all… dying during her birthday week,” says the official synopsis. “To her surprise, she’s given a second chance to right her wrongs on Earth by reconnecting with loved ones, and most importantly, prove that she’s worthy enough to get into the big VIP room in the sky.”

RELATED: Afterlife of the Party Trailer: Victoria Justice Stars in Netflix Comedy

ComingSoon Editor-in-Chief Tyler Treese spoke with Victoria Justice and Midori Francis about the film, their characters, and how they managed to bond on set.

Tyler Treese: Victoria, it’s not often that you play a role where you die very early on and then you’re still the main character. Can you speak to just how unique this role is and what really appealed to you about it?

Victoria Justice: I was really attracted to Cassie’s journey. She starts off very imperfect and selfish in a lot of ways and kind of immature in a lot of ways. I think I loved her journey. I love the fact that she learned so many lessons and there are second chances and it’s about forgiveness and she grows so much as a person. It’s really just a reminder to, you know, be as kind as you can be every day and tell the people that you love, that you love them as much as possible because you never know when it’s all gonna be taken away.

Midori, you both feel like true best friends in the film. Even though you have your ups and downs, there’s this strong sense of caring throughout. I know this was a very unique filming situation due to the pandemic, but how did you manage to both bond and make your chemistry really special on screen?

Midori Francis: We started shooting this in September in Capetown, South Africa, with a largely local crew, the most amazing crew I’ve ever worked with. We were the Guinea pigs. I think at the time there were like four international movie projects shooting, and I don’t think any of us knew what to expect. I was a little nervous and who knew it turns out to be, to me, one of the most bonded, community-oriented experiences I’ve ever had. We all were living together, hanging out after work, and really all we had was each other because we were in a bubble. I hope that that shows on screen that we really did form a community amongst ourselves.

It definitely shows. Victoria, I loved how much heart the movie winds up having. The movie deals with grief and having regrets in such a loving way that’s also so relatable. Can you speak to those themes and your character’s journey?

Justice: Yeah, I think that was one of the things that really drew me to this project is that I feel like these themes are so important and it’s a really heartwarming story at the end of the day. One that I think people can take an important message away from. A lot of the credit has to also go to Stephen Herek, our director, who is so talented and is so good at telling stories that are lighthearted and funny but also have a lot of heart to it. He’s directed so many iconic movies like The Mighty Ducks, 101 Dalmatians with Glenn Close, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and Mr. Holland’s Opus. He’s just so good. It was really fun to be able to bring it to life.

Midori, your character arc is fantastic too in the film because your character is so talented, but she kind of lacks a little bit of confidence, that outgoingness, and we kind of see her gain that over time. Could you relate and what did it mean for you to portray a character with such an interesting theme?

Francis: 100% I could relate. I think we’re so multifaceted as people. So if someone knows you at work, they may be like, “Oh my God, you’re such a competent person,” and I know I have that, but then in other situations, you’re like a mess. I think Lisa just like everyone else has her areas of strength, but also weakness. She loves her job and she loves Cassie. That’s very clear, but they almost become crutches. Right? Because she feels safe in that relationship and in the work, but she doesn’t venture outside. I always think like maybe Cassie’s friends actually at the end of the day aren’t that bad, but Lisa refuses to look outside of her own world. So I think that you’re right, the arc of the movie, the beautiful thing about this arc is that the two best friends are what… We give each other the arc, you know. Without Cassie coming back, I would probably remain unchanged. So it’s through this relationship that we grow.

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