Heartstopper star Kit Connor says he doesn’t want to be defined by the term “queer actor”, after his breakthrough role as bisexual school rugby star Nick Nelson in the Netflix mega-hit.
Connor, along with co-star Joe Locke, has become a star with the arrival of Heartstopper, which premiered on the platform in April 2022 and soon became its fifth most watched English language show, watched for a reported 53million hours worldwide.
But he received accusations of “queerbaiting” (appropriation by straight people of gay culture for kudos) after he was photographed hand in hand with actress Maia Reficco in November last year.
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At the time, Connor broke his own retreat from social media to come out to his many followers – a decision he told the Guardian newspaper he now considers “frankly a bit rash” – when he posted:
“i’m bi. congrats for forcing an 18-year-old to out himself. i think some of you missed the point of the show. bye”.
This weekend, the actor told the newspaper that this experience jarred with what he considers the main message of Heartstopper:
“The whole point of the show is that [queerness] is not always so stereotyped. There are so many lines in the show where someone goes: ‘Nick Nelson, he’s the straightest guy in the school. He’s the captain of the rugby team so there’s no way [he’s queer].’ Sometimes you just need to give people space.”
And he revealed that the second season, due to arrive August 3rd amid huge global anticipation, will address his character Nick’s struggles with coming out, “which is important,” he said.
Then he added:
“Although now I know that I’m queer, I personally don’t find it a super defining factor. I wouldn’t want to be defined by ‘queer actor’. I want to play all parts. Hopefully, I can do that if my career lasts, if I flourish. Touch wood.”
Connor, who has been acting since he was eight and previously played a young Elton John in biopic Rocketman, initially auditioned for the role of Charlie in the series, adapted from the graphic novel by Alice Osman. He ended up cast as fellow lead Nick, with the role of Charlie played by Joe Locke.
Connor has also been cast in the upcoming horror mystery One of Us. Callum Woodhouse (The Durrells), Charlotte Hope (The Spanish Princess), Siobhan Fallon-Hogan (Rushed) and Ian Beattie (Game Of Thrones) will also star in the feature, which heralds from the Jung School and Northern Ireland Screen and marks the debut of writer-director Stefan van de Graaff.
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