Heartstopper star Joe Locke dreams of playing the first gay Disney prince following the success of the coming-of-age Netflix series.
The 18-year-old actor rose to worldwide fame, almost overnight, after Heartstopper landed on the streaming service two weeks ago.
Joe plays Charlie Spring, a year 10 student at an all-boys grammar school who develops a crush on rugby lad Nick Nelson (Kit Connor), whom he sits next to during form.
However, the crush quickly develops into something much more, with year 11 Nick also falling for Charlie while grappling with his own sexuality.
The two boys embark on a secret romance, as Nick comes to terms with his own identity and battles confusion, and Charlie faces bullying from Nick’s friends.
Heartstopper has been widely praised by viewers for its authentic LGBTQ+ storytelling, with countless fans feeling inspired to come out to their own families as a result.
Older queer viewers have also praised Heartstopper for offering positive representation for LGBTQ+ youth, which they didn’t have growing up.
The show rocketed up the Netflix charts following its release, and now it seems the sky is truly the limit for the cast, who are amassing millions of social media followers.
Setting his sights high and keen to be a beacon of hope for other LGBTQ+ people, Joe (who is, amazingly, studying for his A-levels amid the Heartstopper chaos) wants to star in a Disney project, telling the Independent: ‘I would love to play the first gay Disney prince.’
‘That would be a dream,’ he added.
He also hopes Heartstopper will be renewed for a second season (we’re waiting for the announcement too) and wants to pursue more projects that ‘mean something.’
The actor – who scored his Heartstopper role from an open casting of 10,000 people – loves how their series instills optimism in queer youth.
‘Our story is not so based on sex, because our characters are turning 15 and 16 in the series, so it’s more about relationships and love. It’s a more optimistic piece. It shows the really nice things about being queer,’ he said.
‘I think a lot of queer people growing up feel like they don’t deserve love, because they don’t have access to the same dating pool or support as straight people do. And so Heartstopper is so lovely in that it gives that to queer characters.’
Co-star Kit – who you might know from Elton John biopic Rocketman – has also spoken about wanting to normalise queer joy on-screen, recently telling NBC News that ‘a lot of queer representation over time and currently, it’s very dark and gritty and just an overwhelmingly pessimistic view’, so a positive portrayal of LGBTQ+ romance is ‘extremely important.’
However, both stars have also spoken about the importance of not assuming another person’s sexuality, despite them being in the public eye and playing LGBTQ+ characters, with Kit recently shutting down speculation on Twitter.
Heartstopper is based on the graphic novels by illustrator Alice Oseman, and guest stars Olivia Colman, with the Oscar-winning actress making a surprise appearance as Nick’s mum.
It was announced earlier this week that the eight-episode series was watched for 23,940,000 hours this week alone – and we’re pretty sure a good 70% of them came from us.
Heartstopper is available to stream now on Netflix.