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'Chemical Hearts' star Austin Abrams finds niche in teenage romance

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'Chemical Hearts' star Austin Abrams finds niche in teenage romance
Austin Abrams (right) and Lili Reinhart star in "Chemical Hearts." Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 20 (UPI) -- Chemical Hearts is the latest in a series of roles in teen romance stories for 22-year-old actor Austin Abrams, who says the script created new challenges in dealing with life's struggles.

Abrams portrays Henry, a high school senior and school newspaper editor, who shows new transfer Grace (Lili Reinhart) around.

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"I suppose as long as I'm young and able to play those roles, I might as well continue to do them," Abrams told UPI in a recent phone interview.

On HBO's Euphoria he plays Kat Hernandez (Barbie Ferreira)'s love interest, Ethan, and he just finished an arc on This Is Us as teenage Kate (Hannah Zeile)'s love interest.

In Chemical Hearts, Grace becomes Henry's first girlfriend, but he is not her first love. Grace was involved in an automobile accident that killed her previous boyfriend and left her with a permanently injured leg.

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Abrams said he appreciated that both Henry and Grace had more to cope with than their high school romance. The actor acknowledged that some young people experience a lot before they graduate high school, but lamented that fictional stories don't often reflect that.

"I feel like there's not as much going on sometimes," Abrams said. "When you get older, you just have more experiences."

The grief Grace experiences complicates Henry's relationship with her. Abrams said he appreciated that the film could show young viewers that relationships require adapting to one's partner's needs.

"Maybe some people go with the flow and don't have expectations for these first experiences," Abrams said.

In addition to portraying his love interest, Reinhart executive-produced the film. Abrams said he was grateful Reinhart focused on her job as an actor when he worked with her, even though she had other duties behind the scenes.

"I honestly forgot that she was an EP [executive producer]," Abrams said. "She did a really wonderful job of, I suppose, really blending those two [jobs]."

Back to 'Euphoria'

Abrams found Henry to be a welcome change of pace from his role on Euphoria. As Ethan, Abrams said he feels like he's on the periphery of the HBO drama's edgy teenage characters. Henry allowed him to deal head-on with themes of grief and trauma.

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"I almost feel like Henry seems to have more issues or darkness going on in a lot of ways," Abrams said.

The COVID-19 pandemic delayed production on the second season of Euphoria, and Abrams does not expect to return to production until 2021 and does not know the show's timeline.

Abrams said he participated in a table read for Season 2 before production shut down. However, those scripts may not be filmed.

"I've just heard that all the scripts have been totally rewritten," Abrams said.

Abrams also thinks his arc on This Is Us has concluded. However, he would be open to return should the producers ask.

One more romance before 2020 ends

Abrams wrapped one more television show before the COVID-19 pandemic -- he plays Dash in Netflix's Dash & Lily.

"It's about this boy and girl that have never met each other," Abrams said. "They're exchanging a notebook back and forth and getting each other to do dares while at the same time learning about each other."

The film is set in New York during the holiday season. Abrams said his character does not get into the holiday spirit.

"I'll say that he has similar traits to The Grinch," Abrams said.

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Chemical Hearts premieres Friday on Amazon Prime.

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