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Catfishing for Christmas: Darren Barnet, Nina Dobrev, Jimmy O. Yang spill on filming messy Netflix rom-com 'Love Hard'

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Darren Barnet, known for playing Paxton Hall-Yoshida in the Netflix series Never Have I Ever, has a new project on the platform, Christmas-themed rom-com movie Love Hard, with Vampire Diaries’ Nina Dobrev and Jimmy O. Yang from Crazy Rich Asians.

Love Hard follows Natalie Bauer, played by Dobrev, who has been “unlucky in love” in Los Angeles but ends up connecting with someone on a dating app who lives on the East Coast and ends up travelling to his home to meet in-person for the first time. But there’s one catch, the man she’s been communicating with is actually a catfish, Josh (Yang), who has been posing as his friend Tag (Barnet) online.

Rebecca Staab as Barb Lin, Harry Shum Jr. as Owen Lin, James Saito as Bob Lin and Jimmy O. Yang as Josh Lin in Love Hard. (Bettina Strauss/Netflix)
Rebecca Staab as Barb Lin, Harry Shum Jr. as Owen Lin, James Saito as Bob Lin and Jimmy O. Yang as Josh Lin in Love Hard. (Bettina Strauss/Netflix)

Things start to get even more complicated when Natalie and Josh try to help each other, Natalie still wants to try her luck at woo-ing the real Tag and Josh, who is particularly insecure around his family and seemingly “perfect” brother Owen (Harry Shum Jr.), wants to show his family that he can be lucky in love.

“I was a fan of the show Catfish growing up, in high school I watched it a lot,” Yang told Yahoo Canada. “I actually went back and watched a lot of those episodes, seeing these real case studies, finding the humanity of why these people catfish other people.”

“Most of the time it's not out of malice, they're not trying to hurt the other person, it’s that they're just so insecure, and they are truly trying to find love.”

Nina Dobrev as Natalie Bauer in Love Hard, and Jimmy O. Yang as Josh Lin. (Bettina Strauss/Netflix)
Nina Dobrev as Natalie Bauer in Love Hard, and Jimmy O. Yang as Josh Lin. (Bettina Strauss/Netflix)

Dobrev stressed that there are “varying degrees of catfishing,” ranging from “little white lies” to “fully pretending you're a different human being.”

“The result is just wasting your time, honestly, and delaying your actual pursuit, which is to find love and happiness,” she told Yahoo Canada.

“Because if you lie upfront, eventually every lie gets revealed, so you're just going down a path that's just going to unravel in a negative way, and ultimately make you feel worse about yourself.”

Darren Barnet as Tag in Love Hard. (Bettina Strauss/Netflix)
Darren Barnet as Tag in Love Hard. (Bettina Strauss/Netflix)

Being a Netflix heartthrob

While Barnet has become a bonafide Netflix heartthrob, who is happy to claim the title, he's also ready to move on to different things.

“I take it as it comes, it's fun every time,” Barnet told Yahoo Canada. “But I am also very excited to be diving into other things and showing a different side, I just finished producing and also starring in my first, ...psycho-thriller.”

“I'm also very open to claim the, I guess, “heartthrob,” it's fun and if it brings joy to people, then that's great.”

But being a fan-favourite love interest in two Netflix projects doesn't necessarily mean you're going yo get the superstar treatment. Barnet had a great time filming Love Hard in Vancouver but he realized that his quarantine accommodation wasn’t actually as star-studded as his co-stars.

“Everybody has these cool quarantine stories and I didn't realize this, it was my first time...being put up for work in my career,” he explained. “So I was staying at this place that is, compared to everyone else's quarantine experience, was not that cool.”

“I was like, ‘Oh my god did I just make it in life right now’ and it was, like, this one bedroom. You know, nothing special. Everyone else is on islands and having a great time. But I was having a wonderful time until I learned these stories.”

Jimmy O. Yang as Josh Lin and Nina Dobrev as Natalie Bauer in Love Hard. (Bettina Strauss/Netflix)
Jimmy O. Yang as Josh Lin and Nina Dobrev as Natalie Bauer in Love Hard. (Bettina Strauss/Netflix)

Vancouver's Chinese food keeping the 'Love Hard' cast fed

Canadian actor, Dobrev, enjoyed going back to Vancouver to film this movie, who hadn’t actually been back to the city since filming the pilot for Vampire Diaries.

“It was also very challenging because it was in the middle of the pandemic,” she said. “It wasn't the same kind of Vancouver experience that I'd had in the past, because not a lot was open and we had to make sure that we didn't get sick for our safety, for the crew’s safety and everyone that we were working with.”

“I quarantined in Bowen Island, so that was really, really beautiful out there.”

Yang had a great time in Vancouver, he particularly enjoyed all the great, authentic Chinese food that Vancouver has to offer.

“It's great that Vancouver has so much great Chinese food, like really authentic Chinese food,” he said. “I came from Hong Kong, honestly some of the stuff is better than Hong Kong, so I have no complaints.”

“I can't wait to kind of just get back there for a vacation, when I'm not working.”

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