Have you ever loved a comic so much that you vowed never to read it again? I’ll admit, it’s an unusual reaction to have when you love a book, but Rhea Norwood has her reasons. The British actress currently stars in the Netflix teen drama Heartstopper, which is based on the popular Webtoon. Norwood plays Imogen Heaney, an original character created for the live-action adaptation.
During a spotlight panel at MCM Comic Con 2023, Norwood recalled learning about Heartstopper. “I hadn’t heard of Heartstopper at all before auditioning. And then as soon as I did my audition, I read the first volume online in about one sitting. I was so moved by it, and how beautiful, wholesome, and sweet it was. I wanted to be involved,” Norwood said.
However, even though she enjoyed the comic enough to read it in one sitting, the actress decided that she could never revisit the source material or read future volumes. “I read the first volume, but I decided not to reread them once I got cast because Imogen is not in the Webtoon, and I felt like she’s too tunnel-visioned, and so on her own journey that I didn’t feel like I wanted to get myself too invested in the rest of the story. She’s not aware of what’s going on with Nick and Charlie, so I didn’t want to get that in my head too much.”
As Norwood explained, she didn’t want her performance to be clouded by the source material. As she spoke about Heartstoppers, Norwood mused on the relationships actors have with source material. “I think having preexisting material as an actor is always a gift. Most of the time you’re not an adaptation, you’re making it from scratch, the same way I did for Imogen. I think there was pressure for the cast taking on roles that were already loved, but there was a pressure for me to make sure the character I was bringing was a worthy addition as well.”
Heartstopper season 2 is currently streaming on Netflix.
Watch the full Rhea Norwood spotlight panel from MCM Comic Con here.