Kit Connor

Kit Connor is a Heartstopper.

Not many actors can boast about working in the film & TV industry for over a decade, but it’s something Kit Connor embraces wholeheartedly — all while balancing Sixth Form and trying to study for his A-Levels. Since appearing in his first booked gig at the age of 8, Kit Connor has been curating a filmography some would dream of, portraying roles on projects like Grantchester, His Dark Materials, and playing young Elton John in the biopic Rocketman.

Now, after 10 years in the business, actor Kit Connor is ready for his next challenge: the lead role in the highly anticipated LGBTQ+ young adult drama Heartstopper. Adapted from the much-loved graphic novel by author Alice Oseman, Heartstopper has a simple premise: boy meets boy and, while dealing with being students at a British all-boys grammar school, they attempt to navigate their friendship as their feelings turn romantic. Kit Connor plays Nick, a tender-hearted rugby player who meets Charlie, a lovable, high-strung gay student, played by newcomer Joe Locke.

To say the release of Heartstopper is needed is putting it lightly. In a world where shows like Euphoria and Gossip Girl thrive on pushing the boundaries, Heartstopper is on another spectrum. Rather than showing the themes and issues prevalent to young queer adults in a dark, gritty frame, Heartstopper approaches topics like homophobia and toxic masculinity in a deft way that never causes the audience to ever feel in danger. For Kit, Heartstopper serves as a beacon of light; a show where there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s queer teen love without all of the darkness, demonstrating that it’s the heartwarming and uplifting balm the world needs.

1883 Magazine’s Kelsey Barnes chats with Kit Connor about portraying the lead in such a highly anticipated TV show, why Heartstopper will help to fill a void in young adult programming, working with Olivia Colman, and more.


Is it crazy to think back to when you made your first on-screen performance? It’s been about a decade. Not many actors already have ten years of work under their belt by the time they reach adulthood.

Yeah, it’s always strange to think about how it’s been a decade. To be honest, at that point, it was very raw. When I was 8, I didn’t know anything. At that age, you don’t have to be that great of an actor, especially with the characters I was playing. As I’ve grown up, I’ve suddenly had to almost learn and then relearn how to act and try to improve naturally because I’ve never really had any lessons. Now that we’re talking about it, I’m reminded of why it’s one of the great things about being an actor. You get to learn from experience and by working with the people on set. It’s a huge honour for me to work with my co-stars, they’ve had such an impact on me. I’ve tried to take things from them. That’s one of the main aspects of my evolution as an actor. 


Does it feel like you take parts of characters with you as you grow?

I do think there are certain elements of that. A person’s personality can find its way and ease into the performance whether an actor likes it or not. If you asked a lot of actors, they’d probably say or feel that is a bad thing. They likely want it to be a bit more detached. Every single role is different but I think, naturally, there is a little bit of me that creeps into every role I play. I don’t think that’s the case with a lot of actors. A big part of it is understanding your character and how they would react. Nick, for example, is a character I feel I understand and I know how I would perform specific lines. Most of the time I’m trying to ensure I’m thinking from my character’s perspective rather than my own, but naturally, it’ll come out sometimes! [Laughs] 


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It’s been a year since Alice Oseman, the author of Heartstopper, announced you would be playing Nick. How has the last year of your life been — between booking the role, filming it, and the impending release?

It’s been a life-changing project for me. Being a lead in a Netflix show comes with its own level of insanity, but it also brings this—the press side of it, talking to people like you—which is something new to me. I’m really enjoying it. Doing interviews and such has been a real pleasure because the cast loves to talk about how much we love the show! Personally, I’ve loved getting to work with photographers, stylists, and groomers because it’s another side of the industry I’ve never experienced before. I love working with new people and trying new things.

But, while all of this has been happening, I’m still going to school and trying to finish my A-Levels. When I’m not filming, I’m still very much in school so my life still feels very normal, just with these certain additions that I didn’t have before! I do have to pinch myself sometimes that I’m getting to experience these things. It’s a blessing, but it hasn’t changed who I am in a lot of ways which I think is a good thing.


I think it’s nice you’re still pursuing education, it’s really important. It anchors you down in the best way. 

I mean, don’t get me wrong: there were points where I was thinking, “God, this is difficult. Is it worth it?” Balancing the two was difficult, but now I’m at the point where everything I’ve done since I was young has been leading up to this moment. I get to be in a really incredible show like Heartstopper and I get to sit my exams and try my best. Film and TV are what I want to pursue, but it’s good to have an education. 


I feel it’s a testament to who you are; you’re eager to learn regardless of what craft you’re doing. 

A lot of people ask me what makes a ‘good’ actor which is hard to answer because it varies. I do think one of the biggest things that makes a ‘good’ actor is having an understanding of people and how they would react. It helps portray a more assured, sturdy character. Being eager to learn and uncover information, like in a script, helps with creating that.


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With Heartstopper, what initially attracted you to the role of Nick? Were you aware of the books prior?

I heard of the books before I actually knew them. As soon as I had my first audition and got the email, I read the first volume and couldn’t put it down. Reading it just made me feel so warm and wonderful. What really stuck out to me is how a show like this is something that doesn’t typically get representation because it’s queer representation for a younger audience. Anyone can watch it, but a lot of queer teen representation is very much for a certain demographic of queer teens. It’s nice to have Heartstopper because it’s honestly for everyone. After my second or third audition, I read through all of the volumes and I fell in love with all of the characters. They are so lovely and relatable, there’s really something for everyone. I felt, and still feel, a real honour to be bringing Heartstopper and Nick. 


I love that you described it that way because it’s how I felt when I watched it! It feels so true to real life. Some shows for teens seem so out of touch from actual teens, so Heartstopper is definitely filling a void. 

I always say that it’s like looking through the world wearing rose-tinted spectacles. It’s very much a warm, optimistic view, but it’s still grounded and realistic. It’s still tackling these problems because we do focus on the positives of being queer and being a teen. At the same time, it would be a bit of a cop-out to not shed some light on the negatives—homophobia, social media, and social pressures—because those all have a massive effect on teenagers. We approach everything in a lighthearted, optimistic way, but there are some really big problems we tackle. We focus on the solution; we remind teens it’s actually going to be okay. It’s a big part of Heartstopper. 


That’s something that is explored further in the novels as well.

Yeah, it’s not something that’s wrapped up in the first book. There are bigger issues that are pretty serious, like Charlie going through some mental health problems and an eating disorder. If we were to make more seasons, that’s something that we would address. I think seeing how the show optimistically approaches these intense themes will be refreshing for everyone, but especially for teens. We’re showing you that you can overcome it. 


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Did you and the rest of the cast discuss how you would approach these themes and topics?

It was just obvious in the writing right away. We spent the first two weeks of prep just getting to know our characters and the story, but also getting to know each other as humans, too. Alice wrote the novels and the script, so it’s clear in the writing. She made it easy for us to portray because the messages and themes are clear-cut in the script. It’s not trying to play too many mind games with the audience, it’s very much telling them what it is and who we are and why we should be allowed to be ourselves.


One of my favourite scenes in the show is in the party episode where Nick sees Tara and her girlfriend kiss. He notices how free they look and it feels like this huge catalyst for him. Is there a scene or moment from the show that resonates with you?

I mean, honestly, you hit the nail on the head. I’m so glad you said that scene because not a lot of people have brought it up. When Tara and Darcy kiss, it was this moment when filming where I didn’t even feel like I was acting. It was such an incredible moment to see even outside of the camera, seeing all of the lights and confetti everywhere with my own two eyes. Then, they suddenly kiss and it is like the seas have been parted. It was the intention that would be the first time Nick would see how happy people are when they are living their true selves. I think that is an incredible, incredible moment for him because he’s suddenly realizing that it is that simple! You can just be yourself and be happy. It’s this moment for me, as Kit and not Nick, to see something so poetic and cinematic about it. I think I still get goosebumps every time I watch it as well because I think it’s just a beautiful scene. My reaction is very much real, you know? It was just a spectacle. 


Something else that was a big surprise: seeing Olivia Colman grace my TV screen! That one scene in the final episode… You guys destroyed me. What was it like working with her?

That was another spectacle on a different scale. It’s a real honour for any actor to be able to work with an Oscar winner, but working with someone like Olivia is special. To be able to share the screen with her, especially since a lot of our scenes consist of just the two of us, was incredible for me. She’s so effortlessly good.

In Heartstopper a lot of us are new to the industry and it’s all fresh and real to us. Then to suddenly be working with Olivia for two days straight was overwhelming in the best way. She’s so effortlessly good. When we first read through our lines for the scene you mentioned that’s at the end of the season and it’s just Nick and his mum, I noticed she suddenly had a tear running down her cheek! I just remember thinking, “Oh God, okay. I gotta step up my game! If this is the warm-up, what is she bringing when we actually shoot?!” 


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For Nick, he’s having a different experience trying to navigate his feelings than Charlie is. Nick’s a popular kid and has his struggles and internal battles he has to deal with. Was there anything you did, in particular, to get into Nick’s mind?

I did a lot of rugby training, that was the main thing I did for Nick and that was for many different reasons. There’s the slightly more obvious reason which was to actually do the rugby scene and be in some shape to do it. A lot of it was also getting into the mindset of being someone who plays rugby. With rugby, there is this stereotype of hypermasculinity. I’ve always said that Nick is expected and assumed by a lot of his friends to be straight and be the big masculine rugby star. That stereotype is something intrinsically that comes with playing rugby.

For our rugby scenes, we had actual rugby teams coming in and playing against us which helped me because, again, it felt like a stereotypical rugby club. They were all nice and I enjoyed the scenes, but it did have that interesting divide that helped my performance. You have one side that consists of just actors and the others are actual players. Some of the cast are pretty anti-rugby so it did create a divide! [Laughs] 


Joe told me he learned to play the drums so you both gained a new skill. 

He played rugby and quickly decided he didn’t need to be good at it because technically Charlie is bad at it which, honestly, is fair enough! 


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Between the writing, costumes, casting, and every other detail, Alice has been heavily involved. What was it like to have her involvement while filming? Did you refer to her about certain things relative to Nick?

It’s so helpful. The graphic novel serves as a detailed storyboard which, if there is ever any confusion, is great to refer to. With the intimacy scenes in particular where you’re like, Oh, do I put my hand here or there?. Having the books helps make it feel natural. It’s really helpful to have that to reference. Having Alice on set all the time was just incredible because if you had any questions about the character, she would help. If she didn’t know, she’d make it up on the spot because she knows these characters the best. Anything that didn’t quite line up with the vision in the original graphic novels, we can look over and get her approval. Not everyone can have that on set, so we’re so thankful to have her. 


Knowing what you know about Nick’s arc over the season, what advice would you give to him?

I think the advice that he sort of ends up realizing himself quite quickly is to forget what other people think of you. One of the main things he struggles with is dealing with the expectations of what other people think of him. I’d tell him to just be who you are, be unapologetically you, and stop thinking about what other people are thinking about. Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. If people are going to be negative, they clearly don’t matter. They’re not your real friends. 


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Lastly, if you could manifest something for yourself this year, what would it be?

Oh, wow, that’s a difficult one. I would love to do decently in my A-levels, probably. I’d love to manifest me passing! 


Joe said he was going to manifest another season…

Oh god, that too!


It’s all good, Joe has that covered. You focus on your studies!

Joe’s a great PR man as well. He’s very into it. I’m always so late to posting and reposting things.


He’s always there with a witty comment!

Always! He’s ready. He’s got that very sort of actor-y comment thing where he says “We’ll see you on April 22” and I’m spending 30 minutes figuring out what to say. He’s a lot better at it than I am. You’d almost think that he was the guy who has been in the industry for 10 years! [Laughs] 


HEARTSTOPPER is now available to watch globally on Netflix.


Interview Kelsey Barnes

Photography Joseph Sinclair 

Fashion Emily Tighe

Fashion Assistant Olivia Rodney

Grooming Alexis Day using Shiseido and OUAI

Special thanks to Woolwich Equitable, Gordon Pl, London SE18 6AB 


Cover styling credits: Jacket Montedoro T-shirt Stylist’s own Trousers Mr. P Rings Kit’s own


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