Netflix's Heartstopper cast reveal why they think real teenagers should play teen roles | PopBuzz Meets

22 April 2022, 15:00

Woodrow Whyte

By Woodrow Whyte

"It gets to a point where you've seen so many 30 year olds playing 16 year olds, and you're like, I just don't believe this anymore"

The cast of Netflix's new teen drama series Heartstopper have revealed why they think it's important to cast real teenagers in teen roles.

The new series, which dropped today (Apr 22), is based on Alice Oseman's bestselling graphic novel of the same name.

It follows Charlie (Joe Locke) who falls in love with Nick (Kit Connor) after they end up sat next to each other in form room. The show has earned rave-reviews already, with fans and critics alike praising the show for its portrayal of teenage lives and it's decision to cast real-life teenagers in the majority of the roles.

Heartstopper Joe Locke and Kit Connor
Heartstopper Joe Locke and Kit Connor. Picture: Netflix

Many TV shows and films, especially in America, tend to cast adults in teenage roles, and it's not uncommon to see actors in their 30s playing 16 year olds.

Alice Oseman, who also wrote the script for the TV adaption, insisted that the show remained true to her graphic novels and pushed for real teenagers to play the roles. She told the Guardian: "There aren’t enough shows where teens are played by real teens." Kit and Joe, who both play the lead characters, are both 18 years old.

To celebrate the release of Heartstopper, we asked four of the cast - Joe Locke, Kit Connor, Corinna Brown (Tara Jones) and Kizzy Edgell (Darcy Olsson) - to interview each other.

During that chat, the cast discussed the benefits of casting teenagers and their concerns about how casting older actors could lead to insecurities around body image in teen viewers.

Read those answers after the jump and then hit play on the video at the top of the page to watch the cast reveal more details about their time filming Heartstopper.

Heartstopper Corinna Brown Kizzy Edgell
Heartstopper Corinna Brown Kizzy Edgell. Picture: Netflix

Why do you think it's important to cast real life teenagers in teen roles?

Joe Locke: "I think it makes it more authentic, because it gets to a point where you've seen so many 30 year olds playing 16 year olds, and you're like, 'I just don't believe this anymore. Like, come on, take the tie off'."

Corrina Brown: "I think it's important because there are teenage actors. You know, I know I'm not a teenager anymore, but I look young. They're really the only roles I can get. If you were casting to me as a 40 year old, that wouldn't work. And teenagers have loads of talent."

Kit Connor: "When you're watching a show that has, for example, a 16 year old character and they look 30, with a raging six pack, it can kind of give you an expectation of what it is to be a teenager. And maybe you feel like you're sort of behind, or you feel like that's never gonna be attainable. And it can kind of give you a slightly problematic mindsets about your own body or your own maturity."

Heartstopper Kit Connor Joe Locke
Heartstopper Kit Connor Joe Locke. Picture: Netflix

Joe Locke: "My favourite comment I've read was: 'It's so great that they've cast some unconventionally attractive actors.' It's the most back-handed compliment I've ever received. I was like...thank you?"

Kit Connor: "Everyone was like, 'Thank God they didn't cast conventionally attractive [people], because that would have been so awful'. We were going, 'thank you so much', because it's true."

Joe Locke: "It means a lot."

Kizzy Edgell: "I also think, specifically skin imperfections, you see teenager's acne, and if you see an adult playing a teenager, you don't see that."

Corrina Brown: "Alongside that, body image, because by the time you're 25, you're fully developed, so seeing a 25 year old playing a 13 year old...I was like, 'why do I not look like that?'"

Read more about Heartstopper: