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'Heartstopper' Stars Kit Connor and Joe Locke Call Netflix Series 'Classic Hollywood Romance'

Heartstopper, Netflix’s adaptation of Alice Oseman’s graphic novel about The story of a pair of teenage boys who fall in love with each other at school quickly became word of mouth among streamers when it premiered in April. Its sweet storyline, whimsical animation dotted with hallway cuties and bewitching encounters has captured the hearts of audiences worldwide. They saw this combination of “will they or won’t they” in popular rugby player Nick and quiet drummer Charlie, littering screens large and small over the decades with many (straight) romantic comedies.

DiscussHeartstopper without having to talk about its fascinating threads. Joe Rock and Kit Connor light up the screen as Charlie and Nick, respectively. Through furtive glances and furtive smiles, the cast captures a specific teenage longing that remains so rare in contemporary LGBTQ+ media. Indeed, Locke’s kinship with Charlie easily extends beyond the screen. As a young gay actor, he knew the show was more than just a job. “Heartstopper told me to be proud of who I am,” he shared, expressing the way many fans responded to him in turn. (Connor, following this interview, publicly came out as bisexual in October15.)

The cast, who is still dealing with the series’ huge success, told The Hollywood Reporter Why they are attracted to their characters, how they try to create effortless chemistry between two boys who sometimes struggle to put their feelings into words, and why this show is rightfully based on a classic Hollywood romance over movie tropes.

When was your first encounter with Alice Oseman’s book? Did you ever feel the kinship of Nick and Charlie instantly?


I miss me The first time I actually read Heartstopper was before I did my self-recording. I originally auditioned for Charlie. I was like, this is never going to happen, but I’m still going to try. But I do think the character of Nick resonates with a lot of people in a lot of different ways; I can relate to him in a lot of ways. He experienced that general superficial popularity at school, and it seemed to give him value. And then, apparently, throughout the first season of the show, he started to reassess whether that was something he really cared about. This is where I really found his storyline to be very interesting. But they’re also really likable characters. They both really care about each other and it’s a lot of fun to play with.

JOE LOCKE Yes, I think Charlie and I have a lot in common. He’s very… I would have said the word “smart,” but I don’t want to use that word to describe myself. (laughs. ) He’s very bookish – that’s the word. He’s a nerd, and I’m a nerd. He is very reserved. I saw myself in him immediately. But he also has a very cool, quiet confidence that I don’t think I have. I would never join the rugby team for the boys I like. Or tell someone I like them. He knew what he wanted and knew himself very well. I really admire his character.

Alice’s book is very minimal, with very little dialogue. These boys are reserved in the way they express themselves, especially when it comes to each other. How did you bring that into the series, which also made their dynamism dependent on warm, quiet flesh?


to me A big part of acting, for me, is reaction, that kind of inner journey that the characters go through, whether it’s through a scene or through an entire season of a show. I think there are a lot of places in the show where you can stop and look at Joe or myself, and, if you just watch it, you can see what we’re thinking in that moment. Because there are many places where they don’t say much.

LOCKE Yeah . And I think there’s a whole page in the first season script Scenes without dialogue. It might be two seconds in the show, but it’s an entire crafted moment of feeling and thinking that Alice wrote for these characters. And, especially with Charlie as the character, the lines on the page… I just want to color the moment. But what’s really important is that you get to know the character, how they feel and what they think, so that even if the lines are deleted, the scene is still the same. I think this definitely applies to Nick and Charlie. They don’t talk much. I mean, they do say a lot.


But they communicate with ideas.


Telepathy, yes.

You two clearly have a playful energy both on and off screen. How much work does this take?


This is where we are One of the things that fell into the abyss very much when making it. We rehearsed for two weeks. Then we suddenly started filming. But we were lucky, we tried to shoot in chronological order and it was perfect.

LOCKE Chemistry is something you can’t fake. You can’t do that — you can’t study chemistry. It just exists or it doesn’t exist. I think that’s what happened. That’s why I think it’s great that they chose to do the first season sequentially. That means the awkward “hi” at the beginning of the series is as awkward between Kit and me as it is between Charlie and Nick. As the season went on, our relationship got better and better.

Heartstopper told me to be proud of who I am and not to care too much about [what people think],” Rock (right) on Netflix Said in a scene with Connor on the show. Presented by Netflix 20222022

Kit, you had a particularly touching coming out scene opposite Olivia Colman, He plays your role mother. How helpful is it to have her as a live partner?


Interesting It’s that we’ve only been together for two days. Because — what do they call her in [Netflix movie] Do Revenge? “Olivia Colman, Oscar winner.” So, we were all doing slightly lighter scenes for the first day. And then the next day, we did more important scenes for Nick’s development, his arc. The last scene in episode eight is for me the most important thing in the whole show. I was like, “Okay, we’re going to get it right.” We didn’t have much preparation. But I’m so excited to be working with Oscar winner Olivia Colman because we have instant credibility. This is a son who is able to be so vulnerable and honest with his mother. Yeah, I think it would be harder if she was a secondary actor. But thank God we have Olivia Colman to help us through this.

The show clearly resonated with audiences around the world. Why do you think this love story can be embraced by a wide audience?


I miss us It was expected that it would have such a young Gen Z audience. What we didn’t expect was millennials watching the show and seeing things they didn’t grow up with. I think we’re specifically neglecting the kind of people who are going to watch it. Mainly because the Heartstopper is very rare and very new. I don’t think Heartstopper would have even been made five years ago, let alone 31 or20 Years ago.

CONNORYeah I thinkHeartstopper One of the things it does in general is that so much queer media is overwhelmingly negative. Kind of dark and gritty. Being able to see queer people — whether they’re queer teens or queer adults — happy is a very powerful force. be able to express yourself. To be able to love without being judged. That’s beautiful. I think one of the most underrated things about Heartstopper, and one of the less mentioned things, is that Heartstopper, in many ways, follows the old classic Hollywood romance tropes. We have lots of little references and allusions to these. And, you know, the queer community never really got a classic Hollywood romance. So, it’s nice to have that kissing and then one-on-one chasing thing. For example, in episode eight, we kiss in the hallway after sports day. Our main direction was that it would be like a proper Hollywood romantic kiss, slow motion. Very romantic.

It speaks to the earnestness at the heart of the show, which also seems to be teaching gay viewers, especially themselves. Nick and Charlie throughout What did the process teach you?

CONNOR madeHeartstopper is a very important thing to me, in terms of my life and who I am. Surrounded by strong, confident queer people — I can’t tell you how powerful that is.


I think I always knew who I was. But Heartstopper told me to be proud of who I am and not to care too much about [what people think]. I used to care deeply about what people and the world thought of me, who I was, and how I lived my life. But having a Heartstopper just taught me not to take it too seriously. Just being myself unapologetically. I don’t think I would know who I am if I hadn’t been through the Heartstopper. I will be forever grateful for that.

Interview edited for length and clarity.

This story first appeared in the November stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine,

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