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Sebastian Croft
Sebastian CroftCourtesy

50 Questions With Heartstopper’s Sebastian Croft

As season two of Heartstopper hits TV screens, and ahead of the release of his new film How to Date Billy Walsh, Oxford-born Sebastian Croft answers 50 quickfire questions

Lead ImageSebastian CroftCourtesy

This interview was conducted prior to the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike:

You’ll no doubt recognise Sebastian Croft and his floppy Hugh Grant hair from Heartstopper, Netflix’s hit boy-meets-boy series, in which he plays the show’s homophobic – but sexually-confused – anti-hero, Ben. This week, Heartstoppers highly anticipated second season arrives on our TV screens – but will Ben get his redemption? Or will he continue to project his own self-loathing onto the people around him? Only time will tell.

But this isn’t all Croft has got going on: the Oxford-born actor is starring in a new rom-com called How to Date Billy Walsh (out on September 8), which he describes as a bit like Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging but a bit Richard Curtis, too. On top of that, he’s currently taking a turn on stage, playing the lead role in Amy Herzog’s Pulitzer-nominated comedy 4000 Miles at the Minerva Theatre in Chichester– a role that Timothée Chalamet was due to play, except that the production was halted because of the pandemic.

Despite acting since he was seven, and playing a young Ned Stark in Game of Thrones when he was 14, he’s still, incredibly, 21. Demonstrably very talented, it’s clear he’s going to go far – in this interview, he speaks of his ambitions of acting in a Greta Gerwig film and playing the part of Sebastian Flyte in Brideshead Revisited, after whom he was named, both of which seem not in the least bit unrealistic.

Here, he humours AnOther by answering 50 quickfire questions, covering everything from his ultimate queer icon to his musical guilty pleasure – and his secret, as-yet-untapped talent.

1. Where are you from? Oxford.

2. What’s the most Oxford thing about you? I like climbing trees and old-school outdoor adventures.

3. Can you introduce your new film How to Date Billy Walsh? It’s a sweet, silly, charming rom-com, kind of like Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging, but also reminiscent of those John Hughes and Richard Curtis movies that I would watch growing up and still watch and love.

4. What is your character Archie like? Completely ridiculous, and very in his own world, but a real romantic at heart and on this mission to love and fall in love. He gets it wrong a lot of the time, but he figures it out in the end.

5. What was the highlight of working on this project? We did a lot of fun, silly things. Like, I’d arrive at work and they’d be like, “We’re going to hang you upside down off the rugby post today.” And I’d be like, “Cool.” Or, “We’re going to cover you in cake today.” And I’d be like, “Cool.” Very similar to Tom Cruise, I imagine, getting covered in cake, getting covered in spaghetti. It’s pretty hardcore stuff.

6. And what’s one thing you learned from it? That you really have to commit to what you’re doing. It’s really easy to feel embarrassed or like cringe about what you’re doing. Me and Charithra just kind of made a pact to commit and it ended up being so much fun because of that. 

7. Why should people watch this film? If anyone is looking for a very sweet story that they can put on and just know that for 90 minutes they’re gonna laugh and and have a nice time, then they should 100 per cent watch this film.

8. Which director would you drop everything to work with? Greta Gerwig. I would walk over hot coals and then staple myself in the foot to work with her.

9. And is there a role you’d really love to play? Timothée Chalamet’s love interest in anything. I was named after Sebastian Flyte in Brideshead Revisited and obviously, that’s like an iconic gay story, and it’s set in Oxford, so that would probably be my dream part to play.

10. What was the first role you ever played? The toymaker’s son in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I had one line which was, “Have you got any toys?”

11. When did you first realise being an actor was what you wanted to do? The first time I was onstage in a major role was playing Oliver on tour. And I remember being in rehearsals and finding out that a light that was going to follow me wherever I walked. And just being in the middle of this story, and singing Where Is Love?, I just went, “I want to do whatever this is I just, I want to do whatever this is, and this feeling, forever.”

12. You played a young Ned Stark in Game of Thrones. What did you think of the show’s finale? I really wanted Bran to warp, or whatever it’s called, and become the dragons and for there to be a huge battle where Bran’s controlling the dragons.

13. Who do you think should have sat on the Iron Throne? It probably would have been Ned Stark, but he’s no more. But maybe he got resurrected. Yeah, that’d be good. We’ll go for that: resurrected Ned Stark. Great. The twists keep on coming.

14. I’d imagine life has changed quite a lot since starring on Heartstopper. What are three words you’d use to describe life since that show? Fulfilling, exciting and hopeful.

15. What’s it like dealing with that new level of fame and the show’s fandom? Sometimes it can get overwhelming, especially online, but all the real Heartstopper fans and the people who are there for the right reasons are so respectful and lovely. I just adore them.

Which director would you drop everything to work with? “Greta Gerwig. I would walk over hot coals and then staple myself in the foot to work with her” – Sebastian Croft

16. What’s your relationship to your character Ben like? It’s a complicated one. Because as an actor, to do the role justice, you have to get into his psyche and understand where he’s coming from. But also, because of personal things in my life, I feel so angry at people like Ben who justify doing horrible things to other people because they’re struggling in some way. But I very much enjoy hating him with everyone else, because he’s not a good person.

17. So he doesn’t get better? I think Alice treads a really nice line of not redeeming him, no, but also just richening our understanding of him.

18. What is your favourite thing about your job? Getting under the skin of a character.

19. What is your least favourite? Learning lines.

20. Where is your happy place? Probably with a guitar or piano.

21. Nice. What do you play? Mainly my own songs, which is very therapeutic. When I don’t have a piano or have a guitar with me, I’ll sit and write poems, and often those poems will become songs.

22. Do you believe in aliens? I feel like you have to … It doesn’t make sense that there wouldn’t be [some] somewhere. So yeah.

23. Do you believe in ghosts? I think I do.

24. Do you believe in God? I don’t know. I’m definitely not a religious person. I am spiritual but it’s very much a journey I’m still on.

25. Do you believe in life after death? I do. Definitely. There’s been people I’ve lost over the years who I’ve definitely felt with me or somewhere watching.

26. Do you believe in love at first sight? 100 per cent, I’m an old-school romantic. Poems, songs, love at first sight – all of that stuff all day, every day.

27. What’s the best compliment you have ever received? I’ve had some good compliments on my hair.

28. What is the best advice you have ever received? The captain of the US women’s football team Abby Wambach, who’s also queer, wrote a book called Wolfpack, [in which] she talks about turning failure into fuel. That’s definitely something I’ve come back to a lot.

29. What advice would you give to your younger self? Don’t change or limit who you are in order to fit in or please other people.

30. Are you a tidy person or a messy person? I’m a messy person who hates mess, which is a very complicated thing to unpack.

31. What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you? I write music but I can’t read music.

32. Who or what makes you laugh the most? My friends but also Nick Frost, who I’ve had the pleasure of working with twice now – the man just makes me howl.

33. What qualities do you look for in a friend? Loyalty, vulnerability, humour and wit?

34. What is your most controversial opinion? I like pineapple on pizza.

35. What’s the last thing you changed your mind about? Denim on denim. I used to be like, ‘Ew, 2007 boyband,’ but I’ve recently been known to wear a denim jacket with a pair of jeans, and I’m honestly not sure if I’m proud of it or not.

Who would you play on Snatch Game? “Claudia Winkleman from The Traitors, including the huge fringe” – Sebastian Croft

36. Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Extrovert.

37. What is your star sign? Sagittarius.

38. What’s the most Sagittarian thing about you? I’d probably say, I’m optimistic and compassionate.

39. Who is your ultimate queer icon? Freddie Mercury.

40. Who would you play on Snatch Game? Claudia Winkleman from The Traitors, including the huge fringe.

41. What song would you want to lip-sync for your life to? Born This Way by Lady Gaga. An anthem.

42. What is your greatest virtue? That I’ll do anything for people that I love.

43. What is your greatest vice? That I’ll do anything for people that I love.

44. What are you reading at the moment? I just finished The Song of Achilles. I’m a wreck. A broken mess.

45. What book would you want to read again for the first time? I’m going to say Heartstopper. I know that’s probably cringe but I just devoured it.

46. What film would you want to see again for the first time? Lady Bird. I just love everything that Greta Gerwig’s done.

47. What’s the last film that made you cry? Close. That was a lot. It was unbelievably beautiful.

48. What music have you got on repeat at the moment? Vampire by Olivia Rodrigo, Be My Mistake by The 1975 and the whole Good Witch album by Maisie Peters.

49. What’s your musical guilty pleasure? It’s not really a guilty pleasure but I’ve recently learned to drive and you best believe I’ve been screaming all of Taylor Swift’s discography in the car. But I don’t feel guilty about it.

50. How has this interview been? I loved it.

Heartstopper Season Two is out on Netflix on August 3; How to Date Billy Walsh is out on Amazon Prime on September 8.