‘Heartstopper’ Star Joe Locke Has a Soft Spot for ‘The Goonies’

Joe Locke was so moved when he saw “Next to Normal” at the Donmar Warehouse in London last fall that he called his agent with a request.

“I was like, ‘I want to do a musical so bad,’” said Locke, 20, who for two seasons has played the sensitive teenager Charlie Spring in Netflix’s L.G.B.T.Q. coming-of-age drama “Heartstopper.”

Soon after, his agent said he’d gotten an email from the casting team of Broadway’s “Sweeney Todd,” and the show was looking for a new Tobias Ragg, an urchin taken in by the scheming pie-maker, Mrs. Lovett.

“The easiest way to play him is that he’s a bit simple — he’s not a full egg, as the Irish would say,” Locke said in a phone conversation in early January from his Manhattan apartment, before one of his first rehearsals. “But I think he’s a very street-smart character who’s survived in a world where people like him shouldn’t survive.”

Locke made his professional stage debut in the Donmar Warehouse’s production of Dawn King’s climate crisis drama “The Trials” in 2022, and he has a big year coming up: In the fall, he’s slated to appear alongside Kathryn Hahn, Aubrey Plaza and Patti LuPone in the new Marvel series “Agatha: Darkhold Diaries,” based on the Marvel Comics character Agatha Harkness, on Disney+.

It being Marvel, “I can say absolutely nothing,” he said. “But I think it’s going to be an amazing show. It shows a different side of Marvel. It pushes the boundary of what a superhero show is.”

Locke, who will make his Broadway debut in “Sweeney” on Jan. 31, shared 10 of his cultural essentials, including Cynthia Erivo, “The Goonies” and walks on the Isle of Man, the island in the Irish Sea where he grew up. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.


This time last year, one of my best friends sent me the song “So Far Away,” and I started listening to the whole album. It’s just such a beautifully constructed piece of art. There’s a real sense of vulnerability to her music. My favorite song is probably “It’s Too Late,” though it changes every time I listen.


I’ve watched the video like 45 times in the last week. She has the most incredible tone. I can’t stop listening to it.


I get coffee and do the Crossword, then Wordle, then the new one, Connections — those three are part of my morning routine. It makes me feel like an old man, but I kind of love it.


When I go back for a visit with my family, it’s like nothing’s changed; I can just slip back into the fold. There’s a spot called Glen Maye, which has a huge waterfall and then you down this glen to the beach. That’s my favorite place.


In one of the songs that my character in “Sweeney Todd” sings, Sondheim rhymes the word “buy” with three different spellings — buying something, saying goodbye and “by,” like b-y. It’s in the same harmony, but [a bunch of] people singing different parts, using the same word but meaning different things. I don’t think anyone else would ever think to do that.


It’s the greenest city I’ve ever been to. There are so many trees. On my days off when I was there shooting “Agatha” last year, I’d get brunch at Bread & Butterfly and then go walk the BeltLine or meet friends for coffee. Atlanta has the most incredible food — Banshee in the East Atlanta Village has this amazing mushroom toast. It’s the best thing I’ve ever eaten, and I don’t even like mushrooms.


There’s a room with lots of old sculptures, and you walk up a little stairway and look above them. I remember 10-year-old me thinking it was the coolest thing ever. They have amazing guest exhibitions as well; the “Diva” one they have at the moment is so cool.


It’s my go-to order; I have two or three a day. That’s one reason I feel very lucky to be in New York — you have amazing coffee shops! I feel very at home.


It’s the peak coming-of-age adventure film. Growing up in a small town, a lot of the caves they’d go exploring in, that spoke a lot to me. But it also spoke to me as I got older and realized I wanted to go into filmmaking. I remember always thinking, “The feeling I get from ‘The Goonies’ is the kind of thing I want to make.”


London is my favorite city in the world. In the summer, it comes alive. I don’t think people think of it as a warm place, but it gets quite hot. I spent pretty much my entire summer sitting in an outdoor bar with my friends drinking Aperol spritz, laughing and having a great time.

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