Gao spoke with Charlie about Heartstopper, how he got the role, and William’s excitement to work with Director Navin Dev (Chatroom, Adulthood). *Heartstopper comes out in select cities on !* *More info on Heartstopper here!* William Gao stars as Charlie’s best friend, Tao Xu. He speaks to Charlie about getting the role, working with Director Navin Dev (Chatroom), what he loves about his character Tao, and much more! Heartstopper – William Gao as Tao Xu Charlie’s Protective Best Friend

William Gao as Tao Xu

It’s a terrifying situation when you realize someone you love is in danger. It doesn’t get any scarier than that moment when you know someone is out to harm someone you care about. In Heartstopper, Charlie (Rachel Heiden), Rick’s (Graham Rogers) girlfriend, realizes how much she loves him and how close she could be to losing him. We were excited to have Canadian actor William Gao in a very special role in Heartstopper: his character Tao Xu has quite an emotional arc. Tao keeps Charlie safe from those who would do her harm because of their attraction for each other – like that principal at school who has it out for her!

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A little about us

If you’re not yet acquainted with Heartstopper, it’s a feature film about an introverted teenager (Charlie) who suffers a heart attack and learns that his life might be in danger if he doesn’t make some major changes. The film stars Pat Morita (of Karate Kid fame), William Gao (Green Lantern: Emerald Knights), and is directed by Tim Savage. Watch our exclusive interview with star John Phillip Law here! And while you’re at it, check out our latest videos!

The story behind our name

Heartstopper is not just an arbitrary name. We wanted to create a heart-pounding experience that involved new technology and cameras to engage users in exhilarating ways. Whether it was chatting with an augmented reality Kiki or stopping a crime while being chased by a gangster, we wanted Heartstopper to be able to fully immerse and thrill players with every experience. Heartstopper is also about protecting your loved ones from danger – which fits perfectly for our story about Charlie and his protective best friend Tao Xu.

Why did we choose this name?

Heartstopper is a literal meaning. Tao has an intense love for his sister named Claire that borders on obsessive. He becomes convinced that Charlie is a romantic threat to their friendship. Tao acts out in multiple ways to protect Claire from what he believes to be an inappropriate relationship with Charlie. I think that gives you a good idea of Tao’s personality and how he handles things when they don’t go his way, especially if it involves protecting his little sister (Claire).

Heartstopper - William Gao as Tao Xu Charlies Protective Best Friend
Heartstopper – William Gao as Tao Xu Charlie’s Protective Best Friend

Our mission statement

To most people, he’s William. But to his friends and family, he’s Bill. A Chinese born in Hong Kong but raised in Texas, Bill is a first generation American with a modest upbringing who credits his success to not only his parents but also his supportive community of teachers and mentors at school. Currently a graduate student at The University of Texas at Austin with an MFA degree in Film Production from UT Austin’s Radio-Television-Film Department (RTF), Bill has helped bring three feature films into production including Heartstopper: The Tao/Lauren Story where he plays one of two main characters – Tao Xu – alongside Austin based actors Jaiya Roopanerin and Lauren Kennedy Robinson.

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Our vision and how we plan to accomplish it

Charlie’s is a unique wine and dine destination in Austin that creates handmade artisanal cheese plates to pair with each of our wines. We want to make wine fun for everyone from craft beer aficionados to even people who typically drink domestic wines. Our vision is simple: we want to be a part of every guest’s experience at Charlie’s because we will tailor their food and wine pairing based on how they feel about what they just tasted. If you like it, we give you more. If you don’t like it, then our servers are quick to bring you something else that might suit your taste buds better.

Who is Bill Gao?

In addition to starring in Heartstopper, an upcoming family-friendly adventure series for Nickelodeon about a Chinese American teenager with superpowers and a crush on a popular girl at school, William Gao has been seen on the big screen in two feature films: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 and Miracles from Heaven. Here he speaks candidly about his experience landing Heartstopper and what fans can expect when it premieres. (This interview has been edited for length and clarity.)

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Our favorite stories so far…

There are a lot of ways to describe YouTube Red’s new series Heartstopper. Romantic might be one way to put it. Tragic would work just as well. But we like to think of it as unconventional rom-com meets modern day thriller—with a splash of blood-soaked supernatural horror. A bold claim, yes—but having watched all eight episodes now ourselves, we stand by it wholeheartedly.

What do we want the reader to know?

Charlie’s protective best friend Tao Xu plays perhaps his most challenging role yet in Heartstopper. In preparation for his role, we asked him to learn a thing or two about tai chi and other martial arts–in addition to numerous other things. He is also one of Charlie’s protectors on campus. Learn more about William Gao and his thoughts on Heartstopper!

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