entertainment

Heartstopper's Joe Locke: LGBTQ youth should know they 'deserve happiness'

The rising star talks playing Heartstopper's Charlie Spring and school experiences in the Attitude May/June issue.

2022-04-13

Words: Alastair James; Photography: Jordan Rossi

In a time where perhaps there's more focus than ever on how authentically actors relate to their roles, Heartstopper's Joe Locke can certainly do just that. 

The rising star from the Isle of Man portrays the lead character of Charlie Spring in Netflix's adaptation of Alice Oseman's beloved webcomic, which premieres on Netflix on 22 April 2022.

As Joe appears on the cover of Attitude's May/June issue alongside co-stars Kit Connor, Yasmin Finney and William Gao , Joe compares his schooldays with what Charlie experieces during the course of Heartsopper's eight-episode run.

"I think that with queer people there’s a universal experience of school that everyone sort of relates to, but then there are differences," he tells Attitude.

He continues: "I never would say I was bullied. There was only a handful of people I can think of who ever said anything bad to me. Charlie really struggles with that. I think going to an all-boys school probably comes with its differences.

Joe wears denim jacket and jeans, both by Fiorucci tank top by DSquared2, rings and necklace all by Pawnshop, and trainers by Adidas. (Photography: Jordan Rossi; Fashion: Joseph Kocharian; Hair and Make up for Joe, Kit, and Will by Sven Bayerbach at Carole Hayes using M.A.C. Cosmetics and Bumble And Bumble; Grooming Assistant: Vivi Melo; Fashion Assistants: Sacha Dance, Bella Azura Dupee)

"I went to a co-ed state school, and I had more friends who were girls than boys. I think it would have been difficult for Charlie, especially in that situation."

As fans of the comic will tell you, there’s an inherent strength to Charlie that queer people of all ages will identify with.

"I would say I’m more of a confident person than Charlie is,” observes Joe. "But Charlie has this confidence inside him that others may not see and it really underpins him as a person."

Joe wears blazer, shirt, trousers, and shoes all by Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello (Photography: Jordan Rossi; Fashion: Joseph Kocharian; Hair and Make up for Joe, Kit, and Will by Sven Bayerbach at Carole Hayes using M.A.C. Cosmetics and Bumble And Bumble; Grooming Assistant: Vivi Melo; Fashion Assistants: Sacha Dance, Bella Azura Dupee)

Reflecting on the types of LGBTQ narratives we see portrayed in the media, Joe argues that it's important to remind people, especially LGBTQ youth, that "you can have happiness and you deserve happiness."

While he recognises the importance of dramas such as It's a Sin, which focused on a group of friends in 1980s London during the Aids crisis, he thinks there needs to be content showing positive stories. 

"I think it’s really important to push the idea that no matter who you are, or what you identify as, or your sexuality, you’re allowed happiness."

Heartstopper premieres on Netflix on 22 April 2022. The Attitude May/June issue featuring the cast of Heartstopper is out now.