Normal People star Paul Mescal has shot to fame overnight thanks to the success of the TV adaptation of Sally Rooney's novel. The 24-year-old actor portrays Connell in the coming-of-age show and has opened up about a heartbreaking experience that mirrors his character's own sad story. Connell spirals into depression after a childhood friend takes his own life, and Paul revealed that three people at his school took their lives during an interview with The Independent. "So it's not fiction to me, it's real, and I was really nervous portraying it," he said. The Irish actor added that after the first death at his school, his mum took him out of class for a week because he "wasn't equipped to cope with that level of devastation".
Normal People star Paul Mescal has experienced similar heartbreak to Connell
Unlike his character, Paul grew up being able to talk about his feelings. He said: "Being an actor and coming from a house where I was permitted to talk about my feelings, I'm able to discuss them quite quickly. Connell thinks about his feelings a lot but doesn’t express them and that cripples him. I found him really claustrophobic to play. I wanted to rip open his heart and tell him, 'Just say what you're thinking for five minutes and I promise you'll feel a bit better.'"
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Paul plays alongside Daisy May Edgar in Sally Rooney's TV adaptation
Paul is currently living in east London, where he is isolating alone. On witnessing the show's unfolding success from his living room during the lockdown, he said: "It's very strange, I'm getting excited for a show that's coming out and I'll be watching it by myself at home. Sometimes I go to the mirror so it feels like I'm talking to somebody."
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The 24-year-old has a close relationship with his co-star Daisy May Edgar, who plays Marianne in the show. The 21-year-old actress has described Paul as her "best friend" on Instagram and the pair had a lot of fun filming the show together. Daisy marked Normal People's debut with celebratory bubbles when it came out last week, and shared photos of herself with her three flatmates toasting to the show on social media.
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