Soulmates Q&A — Charlie Heaton (Kurt)
Charlie Heaton, who plays Kurt in this week's episode of Soulmates, talks about Kurt's desperation to meet Heather, being a hopeless romantic, and why Martha makes him rethink everything about his soulmate.
Q: Have you ever worked on a project that's based in the future?
A: This is the first. I seem to have done a lot of period pieces. With Stranger Things, obviously I've spent a lot of time in the '80s. I've done a project set in the '90s, and in '60s, but this was the first one set in the future.
Q: What drew you to this project?
A: I liked that the show was an anthology series. I liked the idea of being a small part within a bigger theme. I was intrigued by both Will [Bridges] and Brett [Goldstein] and this theme they were trying to explore. I'd only seen the script for my episode, but they explained the bigger picture, this theme of looking for a soulmate, and how they would explore that in six episodes. If there was a test, what does that do to people? Should we actually be with our soulmate? What happens if we are? What happens if it works? If it doesn't? Do we need them? It's a universal conversation in a way. We're all trying to find somebody to share [our lives] with, so I really liked the theme and my episode in particular. They'd come to me about playing Kurt, and it was a chance for me to play this very vulnerable character. It just felt like a really good fit. All the little cogs came together for me to give this a go, so it was a real pleasure to get to do it.
Q: Do you think it's fair to describe Kurt as literally a "hopeless romantic?"
A: Yes, absolutely. Yeah, he is. He's somebody who seems very young for his age and someone who's very sheltered. He's never had a relationship. We find out that his soulmate has passed away. It's all about wanting to be with somebody, and once I'm with that person, everything will be all right. That's a classic hopeless romantic.
Q: Why do you think Martha reacts to Kurt the way she does when she finds out she took his virginity?
A: I feel like it's a lot of shame. I think she's already aware of how much younger he is than her, and they're both in kind of a desperate situation. Then she takes his virginity basically behind the bar. I think she's previously had bad relationships, and virginity is something pure... and she takes it from him in the back of an alley. She's probably feeling guilty enough about doing that, but then she finds out she took his virginity too. So she's like, "God, what have I done?"
Q: Do you think Kurt is in a desperate state if he's responding to an ad to meet Heather even though he knows she's passed away?
A: Well we know that Kurt has attempted suicide, and now he's in this religious help group. I think everybody's telling him that suicide is a sin. His parents are trying to get him to get this idea out of his head. When he goes to that first meeting [in the barn] and the preacher tells him suicide is not a sin, he's like, "Wow, these people understand how I've been feeling." I think he's desperate. I don't think he knows where to go from here. I don't think he feels very accepted. He feels very sad. He feels lonely. He feels like no one else understands, so he's a bit desperate to have somebody. He's seeing this person he's supposed to be with, this person who's very outgoing and travels a lot. It's almost like a lifeline to escape the life he's in, something so different—and that's been taken away from him. That life he could have had is no longer there for him, so what's the point?
Q: How would you describe where Kurt ends up when he responds to that ad?
A: I think he's going there out of curiosity. This is a last attempt. I'm not sure he knows exactly what to expect. It's kind of unclear what this place is going to be. When he gets there, it's kind of ominous, but he's so desperate to meet Heather and to be with her. And all those people are there for the same reason. They all understand each other, so there's acceptance and there's common ground. So even though the situation is quite weird, he feels kind of happy when he gets there.
I think he's also questioning the motives behind it all. Very early on they're digging their own graves, and he's like, "We're not even going to have breakfast?" So, it's like, "What's going on?" But I think he's just blindly hoping that this is the right decision. And there's no alternative, it doesn't seem, at that point. It's like, "What do I go back to?" He seems to have made his decision already before he gets there, and he's just trying to go along with this positive mind set.
Q: It becomes clear this place is suggesting suicide to meet your soulmate that’s passed on. Does he realize that’s what their plan for him is?
A: I don't think he realizes it's going to be so quick. He's been promised that he'll meet his soulmate, but I don't think he really understands how quick this whole thing is going to happen. He's just in for the ride at that point.
Q: How do you think Martha also being there shifts his perspective on the experience?
A: It does quite a lot really. I think it makes him question a lot about being there. The whole reason he's there is because he's going to be with this person, Heather. And then Martha is there as well... so yes, she starts to make him question everything. I think he starts to have feelings for her, and again we have to remember he's never had feelings for anyone. All of his feelings have been projected onto this person who he's never met, and then there's a person in real life who he's starting to have feelings for. It's making him ask "do we need to be with our soulmate? Could this work?"
There's a scene where he tells her maybe we could work, maybe we don't need to be with our soulmate. I felt that was something that Will and Brett wanted to use as a theme throughout the show, this question around "do we actually need to be with our soulmate?" So, that was a bigger, important theme, and Martha makes him question that. He's never been in love, and then all of a sudden he's having these feelings. That's going to make you question everything.
There's a scene I really enjoyed—it's after Travis commits suicide. I think it's a shifting point. He's questioning, is this the right thing? Am I doing the right thing? He goes to Travis' grave, and he meets Martha there for this beautiful little scene where he talks about why he came there. When he found out who Heather was, he was like, "I was afraid that I wasn't even going to be enough for this person. I had all these fears." He opens up and is really vulnerable about her, and they have this sweet romance inside one of the graves. It was really funny to film. They wake up and they have a very gentle moment together, and it's followed with them walking and him asking, "I kind of like you and maybe we could work out." I really liked that scene.
Q: Do you think he would've questioned anything if she hadn't been there?
A: Hard to say, I guess. I do think that Travis makes him question it a little bit. He wants to leave his money for his daughter and family. I think he starts to make Kurt question it, but whether that would be enough or not, it's hard to say.
Q: Knowing what we know by the end of this episode, would you say Kurt being a romantic is his greatest strength or weakness?
A: I guess in this situation, it kind of ended up as both. If he wasn't a hopeless romantic, who knows? I don't know if he'd have gone that far. He might have never been there. But it also saved him, because he chooses love, in a way. He chooses to live and to be with this other person. So both a strength and a weakness. That's pretty universal too.
Read a Q&A with Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, who played Jonah on last week's episode.
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