People / TV

Normal People star Paul Mescal speaks to Mr Porter on consent, connection and life in lockdown

Paul Mescal Normal People

If you've been on the Internet at all in the last two weeks, you would have found it hard to miss the buzz around Normal People. Sally Rooney's cult favourite coming-of-age tale has been adapted into a 12-part series, and to say that it's caused a stir is an understatement. There has yet to be a RUSSH Zoom meeting this week where we haven't all gushed over the series. Some of us have binge-watched five episodes in a night (me), while the rest of the team is attempting to savour the moment and watch in moderation.

Normal People has reignited a part of us that we had forgotten: our inner-fanatic. Reminding us of long-gone moments huddled away in our bedrooms, consumed with the book. As such, we've been feeding our renewed infatuation by reading anything and everything we can find about the new series.

We've been very lucky to discover an intimate interview with Paul Mescal (aka Connell Waldron) and Mr Porter. The conversation, which can be found in Mr Porter's weekly digital magazine, The Journal, gives an inside look into Mescal's experience filming Normal People.

With the UK under strict lockdown, the story and interview by Lili Göksenin were conducted remotely - over none other than Zoom. And it was Mescal's flatmate, India Mullen who shot the accompanying pictures. We've shared some of the interview highlights below.

All 12 episodes of Normal People are on Stan now. Watch at your own discretion. Total obsession may ensue.



On his Normal People character, Connell, asking for consent in the first sex scene:

I think that moment is incredibly sexy. It could have appeared really sanitised, like: look at this character doing the right thing. But, of course he is doing the right thing.


On his recent move from Ireland to London keeping him busy during UK shutdown:

I got a trip to Ikea in just before the lockdown which I am grateful for. I still have little things left to build – things to get frustrated with.


On the ample time he’s spent pondering his big reveal:

I’m proud about the work, so I think that kind of eases the tension. There’s going to be people who don’t like it, but you just have to remind yourself – would you change anything? I don’t think I would.

Paul Mescal


On if he’s nervous about being nude on screen:

I’m not concerned about it because I made a choice that this project is something I’m proud of. Well, on paper, that makes sense. The closer I’m getting to people seeing me fully nude on screen – it does make me slightly nervous.


On choreographing the sex scenes for Normal People:

We would discuss the scene and then Ita would block what we had discussed so it wasn’t mine or Daisy’s responsibility to decide what was appropriate... You’re told what to do. It’s freeing! On the first Friday of the first week, we had a full day of sex scenes. It’s fair to say we were both incredibly nervous. That Thursday, I didn’t sleep.


On relationships in other TV shows versus the authentic bond he and co-star Ms. Edgar share:

You see loads of TV shows and films that have been really quite good but you don’t buy the chemistry at the centre of the relationship... Even if we had rehearsed for five or six months, it’s not something that we could have cultivated. It’s an innate thing, you can’t read a book and suddenly have chemistry between two people.


On how his Normal People role changed him:

I want to find something similar to Connell and Marianne, but only in the last chapter in the book when they have such a deep connection emotionally and physically. That might be a dragon that I might be chasing for a long time. No better pair to learn from than Connell and Marianne.