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'Normal People' stars can't wait until they can go out for a beer and dance together

Amy Kaufman, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

Two days before the United Kingdom went into lockdown, Paul Mescal moved from his native Ireland to England. He'd been wanting to live in London for a while and knew he'd have at least one good friend nearby: Daisy Edgar-Jones, the costar he spent five months bonding with last year while filming "Normal People."

But due to COVID-19, the two young actors have been unable to see each other. Instead, from flats just a few miles apart, they've spent their days conducting virtual interviews together about the romantic drama, which debuted first on the BBC and then Hulu this spring. It's given them a lot of time to fantasize about what they'll do when they're finally allowed to hang out.

"We'll definitely be partying once this finishes," says Mescal, 24.

"Do you know what I'd really fancy?" Edgar-Jones, 22, asks him. "Going to a pub and using the beer garden. Sitting in the sun with a group of mates with a nice pint of something."

Mescal shakes his head in disapproval. Sure, some day drinking would be fine. But then he'd like to head to a disco club -- "Fabric, or some mad place" -- to dance.

"What? Heavy beats?" Edgar-Jones says, surprised. "I'm feeling more like Top 50 or a bit of ABBA. I'm going to take you to Soul Train. Have you heard of it? They have a brass band and play jazz music."

 

"We'd have to make a weekend of it," Mescal concludes.

The playful rapport began shortly after Edgar-Jones was cast, the actors say. Producers conducted an extensive search for the performers who could bring Sally Rooney's bestselling novel to life. The author's love story is focused almost entirely on two characters: Connell, a shy but popular high school jock, and Marianne, a bookish social outcast who comes into her own when she heads off to university. At college, a love affair they kept hidden as teenagers is able to fully blossom as the two discover themselves both intellectually and sexually.

Mescal, who had done a bit of stage work in Ireland but was better known as a Gaelic football player, was the first to be hired. With Connell in place, the team had a harder time finding the perfect actress to match with Mescal. But during his screen test with Edgar-Jones, says executive producer and director Lenny Abrahamson, the two radiated a "creative chemistry, this pleasure of playing off each other and also a tremendous liking. We felt this longing for the two characters to be together."

"I fundamentally knew straight away that I was going to like Daisy," insists Mescal. "If she walked in and I knew she was going to get the job but I know we're not going to click, I would have been conscious to negotiate that."

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