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BREAKING NEWS: Connell from Normal People can sing.

Getting through all 12 episodes of Normal People on Stan is brutal, in the best way.

It’s gut-wrenching and beautiful and a little bit (okay, a lot) sexy. You’ll find yourself thinking about it long after the image of Marianne and Connell, sitting on the floor, knees to their chests, fades from your TV screen.

And you’ll probably also be thinking about that… chain. You know the one, worn around Connell’s neck always, even when he is wearing nothing else.

Watch the trailer for Normal People on Stan. Post continues below video.

Video via Stan

Normal People is the first major role outside the theatre for Paul Mescal, who plays Connell, and it’s fair to stay people are standing up and noticing.

We’re in the middle of a pandemic, so usual promotion for a show like Normal People is not possible. Yet, from the comfort of his own home, Mescal has become everyone’s new TV boyfriend.

Like To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before‘s Noah Centineo before him, it’s a badge given to those men we can’t help but have a bit of a crush on.

Maybe it’s down to the characters they play; Connell is after all, a deeply kind and loving character.

The result is a lot of affection from the rest of us.

A week since the series’ release, the 24-year-old has racked up nearly 200,000 Instagram followers, Google searches about his relationship status have spiked, and well, there’s been a fair amount of thirsty tweets.

Who is Paul Mescal?

Mescal is from Maynooth, a small town just west of Dublin.

There are some parallels with his character: Like Connell, he played Gaelic football (sort of like a cross between rugby, soccer and AFL) before a jaw injury forced him to give it up.

He moved from his small hometown to study at Trinity, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Acting from its The Lir Academy in 2017.

Throughout Ireland, he is recognisable for an ad for a popular Irish sausage and bacon brand, Denny. It’s… interesting.

As Mescal was graduating from Trinity, he was offered roles in two high-profile theatre productions in Ireland: Angela’s Ashes and The Great Gatsby, which he took on and played the lead. He starred in a number of other theatre shows throughout 2018, and in May 2019 was announced as Connell in the Hulu and BBC adaptation of Sally Rooney’s novel Normal People.

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He told Vogue he had a girlfriend during filming, but they have since broken up.

He is currently holed up in his London flat due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but he has company: his roommate is India Mullen, who played Marianne’s friend Peggy in the series.

Oh, and here’s some very important information: He can sing.

In 2018, he posted a video of himself singing Lady Gaga’s ‘Always Remember Us This Way’, and his Insta has a singing story highlight that will definitely solidify that crush, as if you needed another reason.

Get it in your ears.

On playing Connell in Normal People. 

Before he scored the role, a number of people had told Mescal he’d be a perfect fit for Connell, he told Vogue.

Image: Stan.

He read the book only days before his audition, and instantly recognised the characters within himself or his friend group, something that was "both exhilarating and slightly terrifying".

He also knew how invested readers of Rooney's novel were in Connell and Marianne.

"I am going to be the visual representation of this imagined character for a lot of people. So there definitely is a pressure with that," he told GQ.

Mescal said it was easy to play Connell when he and Marianne were happy, but "those moments are actually few and far between".

"I don't think they're ever completely content. Stuff just wouldn't be interesting. I also found I was always really excited… excited isn't the word to use, but I really anticipated getting to play Connell at his darker, more depressed states because I think it's really well observed by Sally. We definitely see when men feel this stoic responsibility not to express emotion, how damaging that can be."

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The series features a lot of sex and nudity, but Mescal insists Connell is more "interesting and sexy" than him.

normal people
Connell in Normal People. Image: Stan

The scenes were shot with the help of an intimacy coordinator, which Mescal said was an important part of making the actors feel safe.

"Me and Daisy felt safe, and ultimately, if you don’t feel safe, the scene is going to suffer because you'd have two incredibly self-conscious individuals fumbling around trying to get the scene right. You would never dream of doing a double backflip with a car without a stunt coordinator. Why put actors in an incredibly vulnerable situation and not support them? And I felt supported by Ita O'Brien, the intimacy coordinator," he said in an interview with The Cut.

This does, of course, means people around the world have seen him naked.

"I am a bit nervous about that," he admitted. "But I wouldn’t like to have done the show without nudity in it, because the book is so visceral and raw, and when I read the book the characters are clearly naked in my head. Do I have to get naked? Yeah, absolutely fine. Do I want screenshots all over the internet? Probably not, but that’s ultimately something I can't control."

The ending of Normal People is very ambiguous - but Mescal is a firm believer in Connell and Marianne coming back together.

"I'd be just desperately upset to know that those two people have that connection and that they aren’t together - that would literally drive me mad," he told The Cut.

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No longer normal.

Since the release of Normal People, Mescal has gone from relative obscurity to scrolling Twitter (where he has been joining in the #NormalPeople conversation) and finding thirsty tweets, all while stuck at home in lockdown.

 

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A post shared by Paul Mescal (@paul.mescal) on

Nothing about it is normal.

"You're in your front room, and you’re in such a familiar kind of setting - your house - and then you go on your phone and it's like, all this stuff is happening," he said in an interview with Vulture. "It's very hard to compute that it is actually happening. Especially because I can't even go and see my mum and dad and talk about it properly. It's odd."

And with not a lot else to do right now, there's a lot of time for reading tweets.

"My friends at home are going mad and they're showing me all the tweets. People don't realise that it will probably come back to me and Daisy.

"It's this weird thing. Suddenly if you're in a show that has been reviewed quite well, as this one has, [people think] that we are immune to feeling bad if there's a bad tweet. Ultimately I was just like, 'Oh, people are a little bit crazy on Twitter'."

The pandemic has thrown the entertainment industry a major spanner, but once this is all over we have a feeling we'll be seeing a lot more (not like that, get your mind out of the gutter) of Paul Mescal.

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Feature image: Stan.

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