EVEN STRANGER. Charlie Heaton of “Stranger Things” fame talks about a new season and new adventures on the big screen
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Having made his acting debut only a couple of years ago, Charlie Heaton is technically still a newcomer to the entertainment scene. Still, those two years were filled with notable roles in notable productions. Take “Shut in,” for example, or “As You Are.” Then, only last year, he was catapulted directly into the big leagues with a major role in hit TV series “Stranger Things.” And then, things started getting really interesting for the English actor.
This year sees Heaton reprising his role as Jonathan Byers in the Netflix show but also appearing in Spanish drama-horror film “Marrowbone.” and then next year, he’ll be suiting up as one of the leads in the eleventh title of the “X-Men” film series: “New Mutants.”
It certainly has been quite a ride since the beginning, and by the looks of it, Charlie Heaton is just getting started.
DAMAN: Hi, Charlie. thank you for having us. How are you doing these days?
Charlie Heaton: Fantastic. it’s been full on recently so i’m quite tired but i’m definitely not complaining.
DAMAN: First and foremost, the second season of “Stranger Things” is set to start airing in late October. How excited are you right now?
Charlie Heaton: Of course I’m excited. A little nervous but I think it’s going to be great and I’m just excited for the fans to finally be able to see it.
DAMAN: On a more personal note, what’s your absolute favorite part of “Stranger Things” season two?
Charlie Heaton: Definitely just getting the opportunity to come back and work with these characters again.
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DAMAN: What would you say, is the strangest thing (pardon the pun) that you’ve experienced while working on the show?
Charlie Heaton: Hawkins lab is actually shot in an old mental institution and one day my friend and I went off to explore down in the basement of the building. There was a weird energy and I could see why they chose to shoot here.
DAMAN: How about the most memorable? Something that has really stuck with you long after filming wrapped up?
Charlie Heaton: Getting meet to Sean Austin! I’m just in awe of the guy, on and off the screen. And listening to him share his film experiences during the shoot. He’s such a humble and open guy, I feel I learnt so much from him. And, of course, he’s Samwise Gamgee!
DAMAN: On that note, what do you think will fans find most memorable from the new season of “Stranger things”?
Charlie Heaton: There are lot of memorable moments from season two, but I think I’ll let the fans decide their own favorite.
DAMAN: In your opinion, what are the biggest factors behind the huge success of “Stranger Things”?
Charlie Heaton: I think one of the main factors are the characters. They’re so well written that everyone is able to find a character that they can personally relate to. They’re outsiders looking for purpose and that makes them so human.
DAMAN: Do you think that by being a web series with an entire season available online right from the start is also a contributing factor behind the show’s positive reception?
Charlie Heaton: Of course. The show being on a worldwide streaming platform allows it to be far more accessible to viewers.
DAMAN: You’re also going to appear in next year’s “New Mutants.” Can you tell us a bit about how you ended up there?
Charlie Heaton: Initially, I taped for the role while I was filming season two of “Stranger Things” and I was flown to L.A. to screen-test with the director. Then I didn’t hear anything for a while because obviously with a movie this size lots of decisions have to be made. But after what seemed like forever I found out I was going to be a mutant. The 14 year old kid inside of me definitely freaked out!
DAMAN: Now, we don’t really know all that much about the plot of the movie. Can you give us a short primer?
Charlie Heaton: Obviously right now the story is very under wraps. But what I can share is that the movie follows these five teenage mutants who have been condemned into a facility for differing reasons. So, the movie is really about these adolescents coming to terms with their powers and their inner demons.
DAMAN: What can you tell us about the character you’re playing?
Charlie Heaton: I play Sam Guthrie AKA Cannonball. Sam is a working class boy from Kentucky and as we know from the comics, he is able to propel himself at the speed of sound encased in an impenetrable force field. In our story, however, we’re meeting Sam as he’s just getting to understand these powers. He’s fearful of them and their destructive quality.
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DAMAN: The original “X-Men” movies basically kick-started the modern superhero genre. Will “New Mutants” bring anything new to the table?
Charlie Heaton: For sure. In this movie, what is so cool is that it delves into inner conflict as well as external ones. It also mixes the horror genre with the superhero genre.
“After What seemed like forever I found out I was going to be a mutant. The 14 year old kid inside of me definitely freaked out!”
DAMAN: A lot of people seem to think that nowadays, when an actor gets a major part in a superhero movie, he’s got it practically made—or that being cast in a superhero movie is a golden ticket that will open many doors to success. Is there some truth to this?
Charlie Heaton: Yes, to an extent. It all depends on the definition of success. I think success comes from taking new opportunities, taking risks and being proud in the work that you do.
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DAMAN: Still, what do you think about being part of an extended movie universe and all the possible ways this could lead to?
Charlie Heaton: I think it’s very exciting. The Marvel Universe keeps expanding and the possibility of fusing with other Marvel movies in the future is very interesting. There are no limitations of where it could all go.
DAMAN: Besides “Stranger Things” season two and “New Mutants,” what else do you have coming up?
Charlie Heaton: I’m travelling to Spain, to the San Sebastián film festival where my movie, “Marrowbone,” is screening. And after that there a few interesting projects in the pipeline. I’m also playing in a show in London, drumming for [musician] Faye Webster in November.
Da: Looking even further ahead, what are your long term goals?
Charlie Heaton: I’d like to continue challenging myself with differing and interesting roles. You always want to push your boundaries and not limit yourself. But who knows what the future has in store?
DAMAN: Conversely, if we look behind along your filmography so far, which titles would you say have defined your career?
Charlie Heaton: In terms of success, “Stranger Things” definitely has been the defining role of my career so far. There have been many highlights, obviously, but the film i’m most proud of to date is “As You Are.”
DAMAN: And if we go even further back to the very beginning, what was it that first drew you to the world of acting?
Charlie Heaton: I always knew I wanted to do something creative, whether it’s music or acting. So, when an opportunity arose for
me to get involved in the acting world I jumped at it.
“It’s all about the collaboration. From the Production assistants to the directors. It is a team effort. And films wouldn’t happen without all of these people.”
DAMAN: If there’s one lesson you’ve learned about making it as a professional actor, what would it be?
Charlie Heaton: You have to have the right attitude and a willingness to work and to trust in other people.
DAMAN: If your past self from five years ago were to see you right now, what would surprise him the most?
Charlie Heaton: everything. Five years ago I don’t think I could have ever contemplated or imagined where I’m at today. It just blows my mind.
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DAMAN: What is the one thing you’d say the majority of people get wrong about acting as a profession?
Charlie Heaton: I think people assume that acting is very much just about the actor. But it’s not, it’s all about the collaboration. From the production assistants to the directors. It is a team effort. And films wouldn’t happen without all of these people.
DAMAN: There’s this quote by Meryl Streep that goes: “Acting is not about being someone different. It’s finding the similarity in what is apparently different, then finding myself in there.” When was the last time that you really saw yourself in the role you played?
Charlie Heaton: I think there are parts of myself in every role I’ve played. When looking at characters you have to find connection.
DAMAN: Have you ever thought about what you be doing if you weren’t an actor?
Charlie Heaton: Trying to be an actor!
Outfit by Calvin Klein
Turtleneck by Bally
Outfit by Calvin Klein