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How Paul Mescal became a Hollywood starlet

Following the success of Normal People and Aftersun, upcoming projects include Ridley Scott's The Gladiator

How Paul Mescal became a Hollywood starlet Following the success of Normal People and Aftersun, upcoming projects include Ridley Scott's The Gladiator

Class of 1996, big blue eyes and the charm of an Irishman. After the role of Connell in the series based on Sally Rooney's namesake novel Normal People (2020), Paul Mescal conquered Hollywood, finding himself among the Oscar nominees for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his performance in Aftersun (2022). To best understand how the actor became such a well-established figure in America's most exclusive industry, it is necessary to look back over the highlights of his career, without forgetting a few details about his love life. 

 Normal People and the lovestory with Phoebe Bridgers

Mescal's transition from student to film star came unexpectedly, or rather at an unexpected time for an actor. The BBC adaptation Normal People found its niche during lockdown, when cinemas were closed and people were forced to stay at home. Before then, Mescal was virtually unknown, having only starred as an extra in series such as Bump (2019) and The Deceived (2020). It was his performance in the Irish series Normal People that introduced him to Phoebe Bridgers, the American singer-songwriter who after watching the series tweeted "just finished Normal People, now I'm sad and horny oh wait", to which Mescal replied "I'm officially dead". One thing led to another, and a few months later news came out of their relationship, which lasted a year and was publicly broken off following the singer's alleged connection with comedian and actor Bo Burnham. And to think that rumours of their engagement were already circulating. 

Aftersun and the Oscars

Last January, those who loved Connell's character in Normal People got to know Mescal under a new light. In Scottish director Charlotte Wells' first film Aftersun (2022), the Irish actor takes on the role of Calum, a single father taking care of Sophie, an 11-year-old girl played by Frankie Corio. The film set in 1990s Turkey narrates the memories of the two characters' summer holidays, capturing the unconditional love covered by a veil of uncertainty between them. In this film, Mescal moves completely away from the notion of teen idol that had been sewn onto him after the BBC series, so much so that he won the coveted Best Actor nomination from the Academy Awards

The Gladiator

Thanks to his performance in Aftersun (2022), Mescal's agenda for the coming months is now really busy. And not with just any names, but some of the biggest personalities that have made cinema history. Indeed, multi-award-winning director Ridley Scott seems to have seen in Mescal the right potential for his next film, none other than the sequel to The Gladiator (2000), the five-time Oscar winner that launched Russell Crowe back in the day. In other projects last year, Mescal starred alongside Saoirse Ronan in the thriller Foe, and with Andrew Scott in the fantasy drama Stranger. In addition, Mescal is also rumoured to have been cast by Richard Linklater in Marrily We Roll Along, a feature film shot over a 20-year period that could therefore commit the Irish actor until 2040.