From athlete to actor! Paul Mescal got his big break in the series Normal People and his career is only getting bigger.
Before pursuing acting, the Ireland native played Gaelic football in an under-21 football league. However, Mescal decided to give up the sport after sustaining a jaw injury and began focusing on his love of theater.
Mescal attended The Lir Academy at Trinity College in Dublin where he earned a degree in acting in 2017. Following graduation, he snagged roles in the local productions of The Great Gatsby and The Red Shoes. In 2018, the stage performer made his way to London for a part in The Plough and the Stars.
In 2020, Mescal caught his big break when he starred alongside Daisy Edgar-Jones in Normal People. The miniseries — which is based on Sally Rooney’s 2018 book of the same name — originally premiered on BBC Three in the U.K. in April 2020 before being released on Hulu later that month. For his first TV gig, he played Connell Waldron, a well-liked high school student who falls in love with his wealthy but far less popular classmate Marianne Sheridan, who is portrayed by Edgar-Jones.
“We hold characters in fiction to a higher standard than peers we know,” Mescal told IndieWire in August while discussing the show. “Connell is a deeply frustrating character on page and on screen. For that reason, he’s a brilliant character to play. He’s complex. Neither the book nor the series explain why he struggles with emotional intimacy. He’s predisposed to a position of social power; he’s academically bright; he’s sporty. How does this jive with the feelings he felt toward Marianne? As a result of that he can’t comprehend or compute the feelings he’s having. It causes him to be indecisive, or cowardly from some perspectives.”
Mescal received critical acclaim for his role in the drama and earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie in 2020. However, Mark Ruffalo ultimately took home the trophy.
Following his TV debut, Mescal went on to snag roles in several film projects including The Lost Daughter, God’s Creatures and Carmen. His leading role in the 2022 picture Aftersun earned him his first Oscar nomination for Best Actor.
“This is truly a special moment for everyone involved in Aftersun,” he said following the announcement. “To be recognized by the Academy is such an insane honor and I’m so utterly grateful. I want to dedicate this nomination to my two friends Charlotte and Frankie who I love dearly! This is bananas, thank you!”
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