Heartstopper is a Netflix original series that premiered on April 22nd. Based on Alice Oseman’s graphic novels of the same name, the show follows the relationship between two teenagers. Charlie Spring (Joe Locke) is an introvert, content with having a small group of friends and status as a nerd. He’s subject to bullying as one of his school’s only openly gay students.
Nick Nelson (Kit Connor) is this super popular rugby player who’s friends with the people that bully Charlie. However, when the two of them meet, everything changes for Nick. He starts to question his sexuality and his choice of friends in a love story that’s both realistic and optimistic. That shows the struggles of discovering who you are while finding the good in life’s most challenging moments.
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During an interview with Entertainment Weekly, both Connor and Locke discussed auditioning for the show. According to Connor, he originally auditioned for Charlie, which he’s sure that fans of Heartstopper would find ridiculous. They both had to do a chemistry read 6 feet away and with Covid masks on, which they both had to do with two different Nicks and Charlies.
“I hadn’t done any professional acting work before, and they did an open call so anyone could audition, didn’t need an agent or anything. And so a family friend was like, ‘Joe, you should go for this.’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, you know what, why not? What’s the worst that could happen?’ And then, as the process got further and further and I got a recall and another recall, I was like, ‘What if this actually happens?’ And then it did, and this whole experience has just changed my life completely, and I feel like I’m living my dream, which is cliché but true,” said Locke.
“I got it via my agent. It was a self-tape, and they sent through this link to the webcomic, so I read through the first volume’s worth, and I was just like, ‘This is something so special.’ I had actually heard of Heartstopper before, but I’d never gotten around to reading it, so then, when I was finally able to read it and slowly get through all four volumes, I was just like, ‘Yeah, this is something I’ve got to be a part of,’” said Connor.
“It was a very interesting day. It was so helpful because it did give us all a few hours to get to know each other and befriend one another. By the time we were filming and rehearsing, it was like, at least we knew each other. I think immediately the team could see some chemistry between the whole cast,” Connor continued.
The Work on Heartstopper Begins
According to Connor, once they got their respective roles, both actors had separate Zoom calls with different teams, in which they had general discussions about being the characters and filming. Then the cast did about two weeks of prep to get to know the characters. Oseman was there as well, which was helpful.
“Yeah, just being able to go up and be like, ‘Do you think Charlie would do this?’ It was like having a Heartstopper Bible there all day. She was there every day on set, but she also wanted us to make the characters our own and bring our own spin on them as well,” said Locke.
Locke mentioned the eating disorder Charlie develops in volumes three and four regarding a possible second season. According to him, when mental health is usually depicted on TV, it tends to be dark, but what Locke believes Heartstoppers has done so well is tackling issues with an optimistic lens. Connor concurred with Locke’s point about mental health, but also mentioned looking forward to the relationship development. Not just between Nick and Charlie but between the characters of Tao (Wiliam Gao) and Elle (Yasmine Finney).
“But we need everyone to watch season 1 first, or else we won’t get a season 2,” said Locke.
Heartstopper: The Sweet Coming-Of-Age Series We Needed
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