“I honestly just can’t believe it.”
It’s the phrase actress Daisy Edgar-Jones uses over and over again to describe the immense public adoration for the Stan series Normal People, in which she plays Marianne, the owner of TV’s best fringe, opposite Paul Mescal’s Connell.
Since Normal People’s debut in April, the series, which is based on Sally Rooney’s bestselling novel of the same name and follows a complicated love story, has been both a critical and viewer success. The first truly big buzzworthy show of 2020.
Speaking to Mamamia from her London home, while sneaking downstairs and locking herself in a tiny front room so she doesn’t wake her housemates, the 21-year-old actress said she always knew the project was special but was in no way prepared for the wave of intense fandom that would follow its release.
“My Mum and Dad are very on it,” she said, referring to the intense social media discussions still swirling around the show. “They have been going through all the Twitter threads and sending me just the nice stuff. I don’t really look at it myself, because I find the idea of Twitter, the fact that people can just say whatever they want about me, very weird. So I stick to Instagram.
“It’s been very overwhelming, to see how many people have been moved by the show.
“And I really, really didn’t expect the intense reaction to Connell’s silver chain at all,” she laughed, referring to the many articles and fan accounts dedicated to the now-iconic piece of jewellery.
“Because when we were making it, it felt quite intimate, so it’s strange to see all these articles now about Connell’s chain or Marianne’s dress in Italy.”
For a spirited discussion on all things Normal People, listen to this special episode of The Spill.
What’s been talked about less in the analysis of Normal People, when it comes to the character of Marianne, is how the abuse the character suffers in a variety of ways at the hands of her father, mother, and brother shapes her character through the series.
There have been discussions around the idea that Marianne’s forays into Bondage, Domination, Submission, and Masochism (BDSM) in the series were linked to her abuse, but that’s a theory Daisy strongly rejects.
“For the sex scenes in Sweden we wanted to make sure it was clear there wasn’t a link between her abusive home life and the type of sex she seeks out,” Daisy said. “With Connell, she loves the fact that she feels so in his power, for her that is empowering.
“So we didn’t want to paint that part of her relationship as having a link to her home life, because really I don’t think it does. All of the stuff she suffered at home more affects her own insecurity and sense of self.”
When it comes to the moment in Normal People Daisy holds closest to her heart, she offers up an unexpected choice.
It’s not one of the show’s lush, romantic scenes, but the tail-end of episode eleven where Marianne’s brother Alan (Frank Blake) breaks her nose and she calls Connell in a panic to help her.
“It was a very tricky scene and it actually took quite a few days to film,” she said. “I had to get in and out of the bloody nose make-up quite a bit. But it was a moment I really remembered from the book and I wanted to get it right.