Heartstopper star Joe Locke wants people to ‘learn their boundaries’ after privacy violations

Joe Locke in a brown top and beige blazer, looking directly at the camera.

Heartstopper star Joe Locke has spoken about the uncomfortable reality of becoming an overnight celebrity, particularly in terms of having his privacy invaded.

Aged just 19, Locke found fame in his debut TV role, as the loveable gay teenager Charlie in Netflix’s adaptation of Alice Oseman’s stories.

Alongside Kit Connor, (Charlie’s boyfriend Nick), and Yasmin Finney, who plays Elle, Locke has been fast-tracked into the upper echelons of celebrity stardom.

Locke is set to star in Marvel’s Agatha: Coven of Chaos, alongside Patti LuPone and Aubrey Plaza, while Connor will be seen mystery-horror film One of Us. Finney, meanwhile, will feature alongside Ncuti Gatwa and RuPaul’s Drag Race legend Jinkx Monsoon in Doctor Who later this year.

Charlie (L) and Nick (R) in Heartstopper season two.
Heartstopper stars Joe Locke (L) and Kit Connor. (Netflix)

In short, all of Heartstopper’s stars know a thing or two about life in the spotlight. But, as Locke has told Teen Vogue, the starry lights of Hollywood aren’t always as bright as they seem.

“There’s an idea that it’s part of the job to lose your privacy, that you lose your right to having privacy,” he said.

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“That’s something I hope the next generation of people in the public eye can change. I think people are understanding that privacy is a non-negotiable.”

Discussing openly some of the incidents of privacy violation he’s experienced, Locke revealed that his mother had to make new social media profiles because fans had messaged her and tried to find out where she lived. Another fan, he said, managed to phone his grandmother.

“It’s a mutual thing,” Locke continued. “I need to learn my boundaries and people need to learn their boundaries. Most attention comes from a really good place, and I hope I always appreciate that.”

Locke also brought attention to the fact that he has never actually confirmed that he is gay, even if his character is.

“People have assumed and written it,” he said, before revealing that he has been openly gay since he was a pre-teen.

Joe Locke will star in Heartstopper season two and Marvel series Agatha: Coven of Chaos.
Joe Locke has called for boundaries to be appreciated. (Getty)

It’s a topic that the young actor has touched on before. In an interview with GQ in November, Locke took aim at tabloid press for fuelling speculation about his love life. 

“Someone making money out of rumours about who I – an 18-year-old boy – might be liking or talking to, it’s really gross and perverted,” he said at the time.

Finney, too, has endured her fair share of issues associated with stardom, most notably in receiving death threats simply for being a trans woman in the media.

However, it’s arguably Connor who has experienced the most high-profile fallout as a result of his new-found celebrity status.

Kit Connor
Kit Connor was forced to reveal that he is bisexual. (@RTS_media/ Twitter)

In October, the then 18-year-old actor was forced to reveal that he is bisexual, after being accused by some fans of so-called queerbaiting.

Speaking to Teen Vogue, he described what happened to him as regrettable, because certain fans “didn’t quite understand the show and the original message” when it comes to sexuality and coming out.

He has previously suggested that if it weren’t for the fan pressure, he may never have decided to have been so public about his sexuality.

The reaction he got in just trying to be himself and trying to discover himself, and putting boundaries up, was a bit disappointing, he said.

“But despite that, I was still happy.”

Heartstopper season two is streaming on Netflix now.