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Paul Mescal was the perfect casting choice for the vulnerable, charming, hot, confused, (did I say hot?) character, Connell, he portrays in the BBC adaptation of Sally Rooney's critically-acclaimed novel, Normal People (opens in new tab). Not only is his acting brilliant in the 12-episode series dropping on Hulu April 29 (opens in new tab), Mescal physically embodies what Rooney pictured Connell to look like when she wrote the book. "When she kind of gave me her blessing, that was a major weight off my shoulders," Mescal revealed to GQ U.K. (opens in new tab)
If you're unfamiliar with the novel, Normal People is about the complicated relationship between two 17-year-old Irish high school students, Marianne (Daisy Edgar-Jones) and Connell (Mescal), who continue to find their way back to each other over the span of four years. Connell, a popular guy at school whose mother works as a housekeeper for Marianne's family, struggles with his identity, while Marianne knows exactly who she is: an outcast who can't seem to make any friends...except for Connell. Their roles and labels shift once they escape their hometown and enroll in Trinity College, but no matter how much they try to stay apart, they're always pulled together again.
If you can't stop thinking about Mescal while binge-watching the series (same), here's everything you need to know about the 24-year-old Irish actor.
Normal People is Mescal's first television role.
While watching Normal People, it's hard to believe that this is Mescal's television debut. In an interview with BBC U.K. (opens in new tab), Mescal revealed he was more nervous to meet Rooney than he was during the audition.
"I met Sally for a coffee in Dublin after I’d been cast as Connell, and I think I was more nervous walking to the coffee shop to meet her than the audition. These characters have been created in her brain and sat there for five or six years. She was so gracious and it’s such an incredible stamp of approval. It gave me so much confidence going into the shoot when she said she was happy," he says (opens in new tab). "Sally didn’t come on set a huge amount, but when she did she had an incredible way. I can imagine it can be nerve wracking for everyone on set when the creator of the story is coming on set, but she had a really gentle presence and was very positive, it just filled me with loads of confidence, which is such a power."
He went to Trinity College in real life.
In the book and in the Hulu series, Marianne and Connell attend Trinity College together. It just so happens that Mescal also went to Trinity College and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Acting from Trinity's The Lir Academy in 2017.
He loves theater—and played well-known characters on stage.
After graduating from Trinity College, Mescal played Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby at the Gate Theatre in Dublin. He also played the prince in The Red Shoes at the same theater, amongst other roles.
He also enjoyed playing soccer, a.k.a. football.
Mescal reportedly had to give up the sport due to a jaw injury, even though he wasn't supposed to play the sport in the first place while acting in college. "We had a match the Saturday before starting college and I went out to catch the ball and broke my jaw," Mescal told GQ (opens in new tab). "I had to make up a lie and said that I got mugged in my place of work, a garage.”
He continues, "If I ever got the opportunity to take a year out [of acting] before I become old and unfit, I'd definitely go back and play for a year."
Family is clearly important to him!
Mescal's artsy Instagram is complete with photos of him and his family. Mescal has a sister, Nell, and a brother, Donnacha.
Mescal has a lot of love for his co-star, Daisy Edgar-Jones.
As far as we know, Mescal is single, but he continues to show his love and support for his co-star, Daisy Edgar-Jones. "So that's a wrap on normal people.... I've no words for how grateful I am right now....," he wrote on Instagram (opens in new tab) in October 2019. "Thank you to everyone at @elementdistribution for making my dreams come true... @daisyedgarjones I couldn't have asked to have worked with a better human being... You are truly incredible...now we drink ❤️"
He's very humble on Twitter.
Take one scroll through the 24-year-old's Twitter and you'll see he's greatly appreciative of any reviews and feedback he receives about his acting.
AHHH THANK YOU SO MUCH 🙏April 22, 2020
Mescal says making Normal People was "the best experience of his life."
His Instagram caption says it all: "Normal People is out on @bbcthree tomorrow. Making this show was hands down the best experience of my life and cannot wait for you all to see @daisyedgarjones absolutely SMASH it! To everyone at @bbc and @hulu thank you for trusting the show 🙏. I have to thank @element_pictures Lenny and Hettie and everyone who worked on the show during the shoot in particular for your absolute soundness. You are all absolute rides and I love you. ❤️ The show will air on @hulu, @bbcone, @stanaustralia and @rteone next week! I hope you enjoy x"
Normal People premieres on Hulu Wednesday, April 29. Sign up for a free trial here (opens in new tab).
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Rachel Epstein is an editor at Marie Claire, where she writes and edits culture, politics, and lifestyle stories ranging from op-eds to profiles to ambitious packages. She also manages the site’s virtual book club, #ReadWithMC. Offline, she’s likely watching a Heat game, finding a new coffee shop, or analyzing your cousin's birth chart—in no particular order.
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