Netflix‘s coming-of-age drama Heartstopper has thoroughly charmed the internet since it premiered on Friday (April 22). Adapted by Alice Oseman from her own graphic novel and webcomic series, it follows the blossoming relationship between popular rugby lad Nick (Kit Connor) and nerdier, nervier Charlie (Joe Locke). It’s not just the sweetest story you’ll enjoy all year, but also one of the most inclusive: Oseman has created a world where multiple interlinking LGBTQ+ stories are soundtracked by glistening indie bangers from the likes of Baby Queen, Beabadoobee and CHVRCHES. Here, Heartstopper‘s lead duo answer questions posted on Twitter by the show’s adoring fans.
— NME (@NME) April 25, 2022
What part of your characters do you relate to the most?
Kit Connor: “I think popularity comes very easily to Nick, in the sense that he’s very good at rugby and he’s easy to talk to. That means he doesn’t really have to try very hard, but at the same time, it does make those kinds of friendships a little bit surface level at times. You know, I grew up as an actor… I wasn’t an especially big actor, but even so, it did feel like sometimes people only spoke to me at school because I was an actor. Not everyone – I made some great friends in school – but it did feel like that at times. So I suppose I can relate to Nick in that way.”
Joe Locke: “I think Charlie overthinks everything: every interaction he has with anyone. And I’m so the same. Like, if I talk to anyone, I’ll come away thinking they hated me. Charlie does that a lot, so I definitely relate to that aspect of him. Also, he’s just a massive nerd and so am I.”
Was there any scene you were particularly anxious about shooting?
KC: “I was definitely nervous about my scene with Olivia Colman at the end of the show. And especially when we found out it was Olivia Colman [playing Nick’s mum], Joe would keep on saying: ‘You’ll be doing your big scene with Olivia Colman this time next week…'”
JL: “I didn’t say that!”
KC: “You did, and I tried to play it cool even though I was really anxious, but I was very happy with how it turned out in the end.”
JL: “I was probably just jealous! For me, I think I found the rugby scenes most nerve-wracking because they are so out of my comfort zone and so not me. I found even being in a PE changing room quite difficult, so those were definitely the hardest.”
What was the biggest challenge – and motivation – in taking on these roles and telling this story?
KC: “One of the biggest motivations is the lack of representation for bisexual characters, especially male bisexual characters. There really aren’t that many [on screen], though I know Sex Education has a major male bisexual character. But you know, this show is very much focused around that. Like, one of the biggest storylines is Nick exploring his sexuality. I suppose one of the challenges of a show like this is it’s never a ‘one size fits all’ kind of thing. We really have tried our best to be as inclusive and representative as possible… but at the same time, everyone’s experience in life is different. We very much tried our best to portray that and create a safe space for the queer community in particular.”
JL: “For me the motivation came from knowing we were telling a story that mattered so much. But I think in the same way, that was also the challenge: trying to live up to that and create something that matters, not just something that could have mattered if we had done it right.”
What’s been the most rewarding thing about being part of a show that has so much love from fans in the LGBTQ+ community?
KC: “There was a tweet, essentially, saying that a Heartstopper fan used the scene where Nick comes out to his mum to come out to their own parents. That is such an unbelievable thing: to be able to have that kind of influence on a person’s life and give them that kind of confidence. To be able to say that I had any kind of part in that is wonderful.”
JL: “We’ve seen so many tweets from, like, older [LGBTQ+] people saying they wish they’d had this show when they were younger. So for [Heartstopper] to be there for people who are growing up now, it’s just such a great feeling.”
What’s your favourite song from the Heartstopper soundtrack?
KC: “I think ‘Want Me’ by Baby Queen, which is amazing. But also ‘Why Am I Like This?’ by Orla Gartland, which is such a great moment in the show and such a relatable song. That idea of feeling like a bit of a deadweight in a situation, I can certainly relate to that.”
JL: “I’m going to say ‘Want Me’ because Baby Queen’s sound just is Heartstopper. She even wrote a song for the show, ‘Colours Of You’, which is also amazing.”
Now that you’ve got to know these characters, is there anything about them you’d like to explore in a future season?
JL: “It’s quite easy for us to talk about a future season, potentially, because there are already other graphic novels [in the series]. And in them Charlie deals with an eating disorder and his mental health, which I think would be quite interesting to look at. There are some moments in season one in which Charlie is starting to go on that journey. Alice is really clever and writes these subtle moments [alluding to that] where if you didn’t know, you wouldn’t guess. But if you’ve read the novels, then you sort of see Charlie starting to go down that path.”
KC: “For Nick, I think there’s a lot more exploration to be done in terms of his family. It’s known to fans of the comics that he has an older brother who’s homophobic. I think that would be a really interesting route to go down, but I think there’s loads of material to go and explore.”
JL: “But everyone needs to watch season one first.”
KC: “Yes, season one is the priority!”
‘Heartstopper’ is on Netflix now