Paul Mescal has become both an Internet boyfriend and an Oscar nominee within just four years of making his cinematic debut.
The Irish actor first appeared in one episode of the 2019 TV series “Bump” before landing the star-making limited series “Normal People” based on Sally Rooney’s novel. Mescal played high school jock turned brooding university student Connell, who at once wooed and waited on classmate Marianne (Daisy Edgar-Jones). While memes of Mescal-as-Connell’s chain necklace went viral at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic (and Mescal landed an Emmy nomination), the actor made cameos in Rolling Stones and Phoebe Bridgers’ music videos before an explosive 2022 with three features, one landing him an Academy Award nomination.
“A lot of eyes were on [‘Normal People’] in a concentrated period of time,” Mescal told IndieWire’s Anne Thompson in 2020. “As a result, the fan response on social media, which was vast and immediate, was not something I’ve encountered before. It was exciting and terrifying, how far-reaching the show was so quickly.”
He added, “What’s important is I don’t think my taste has changed, post the show coming out. We’re looking at more focused scripts, following filmmakers I want to work with rather than say, to capitalize monetarily on the success of ‘Normal People.'”
As Mescal dodges questions about the MCU and makes his grand blockbuster debut with the upcoming Ridley Scoot “Gladiator” sequel, it’s clear he is far from a “Normal” person any longer. Plus, don’t forget a viral West End turn in “A Streetcar Named Desire” setting the stage (literally) for multiple musical adaptations up ahead.
Keep scrolling to see everything Mescal has in the works.
“Normal People” (2020)
Mescal starred opposite Daisy Edgar-Jones in Hulu limited series “Normal People,” which quickly went viral after its 2020 debut. A self-described “romantic,” Mescal compared the miniseries to films like “Blue Valentine” and “Marriage Story” with its haunting take on an intimate relationship fraying at the seams.
Mescal and Dafhyd Flynn played two disillusioned young adults in a small Irish town in short film “Drifting,” written and directed by Robert Higgins
and Patrick McGivney. The 14-minute film debuted at the Glasglow Film Festival in 2020.
“The Deceived” (2020)
Four-part limited series “The Deceived” centered on a tangled domestic thriller about an English student (Emilie Reid) who falls in love with a married lecturer (Emmett Scanlan), only to have their affair lead to disastrous circumstances. Mescal played the professor’s best friend, who is caught in a love triangle with the lead character.
“The Lost Daughter” (2021)
The star-studded cast of Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut “The Lost Daugher” boasted Olivia Colman, Dakota Johnson, and Jessie Buckley, among others. Yet it was Mescal’s turn as a lovesick hotel worker that added a certain warmth to the chilly, Mediterranean-set psychological drama. Mescal told Interview magazine that he was “shitting” himself during his first day on set, which required him to kiss co-star Johnson in one scene. “I was like, ‘What the fuck is going on?'” Mescal joked.
“God’s Creatures” (2022)
Mescal took on a darker role with “God’s Creatures” with Emily Watson playing his onscreen mother who lies to protect her family by hiding his crime. The A24 film debuted at 2022 Cannes, with IndieWire’s Kate Erbland praising Mescal’s obvious “rising star” quality for his “chilling” turn in the drama.
“Aftersun” earned Mescal his first Oscar nomination playing a depressed single father looking to craft the perfect vacation for his young daughter (Frankie Coiro). Writer-director Charlotte Wells drew on her personal relationship with her late father to craft the drama which topped critics’ lists of “Best of 2022” films.
“It’s my favorite kind of acting — acting that requires some sort of psychological or physical change,” Mescal told IndieWire. “I don’t want people to get comfortable with the choices that I make. And that doesn’t have to be necessarily broad, sweeping surprising things…I love a blockbuster as much as the next person, but my only point is that we have to be careful about just leaving a bit more space for films like ‘Aftersun’ to break out. It’s a step in the right direction with filmmakers, and a film that I’m really proud of that is resonating with people.”
Mescal leads “Carmen,” helmed by Benjamin Millepied of “Black Swan” choreography fame. The film debuted at 2022 TIFF and is set to open from Sony Pictures Classics in select markets April 21, 2023, followed by a national release in May 2023.
“The Revenant” scribe Alexander Dinelaris, “Girl, Interrupted” writer Lisa Loomer, and Loïc Barrere collaborated on the script. Melissa Barrera is set to play the titular character, with Elsa Pataky and Rossy de Palma also starring. Emmy-winning composer Nicholas Britell (“Succession”) is behind the score.
The official synopsis reads: “Carmen” follows a young and fiercely independent woman who is forced to flee her home in the Mexican desert following the brutal murder of her mother, another strong and mysterious woman. Carmen (Barrera) survives a terrifying and dangerous illegal border crossing into the US, only to be confronted by a lawless volunteer border guard who cold-bloodedly murders two other immigrants in her group. When the border guard and his patrol partner, Aidan (Mescal) — a Marine with PTSD — become embroiled in a deadly standoff, Carmen and Aidan are forced to escape together. They make their way north toward Los Angeles in search of Carmen’s mother’s best friend, the mercurial Masilda (De Palma) and owner of La Sombra nightclub, a sanctuary of music and dance. Carmen and Aidan find both solace and their unwavering love for each other in the safety of Masilda’s magical refuge, but time is running out as the police hunt closes in.
Mescal leads dystopian drama “Foe” from writer-director Garth Davis. Set slightly in the future after severe climate change has ruined farmland, a farmer (Mescal) and his wife (Saoirse Ronan) struggle on one of the last remaining farms until a knock on the door changes things, per the official synopsis. Aaron Pierce, Goran D. Kleut, and Yesse Spence round out the cast.
Writer-director Andrew Haigh (“The OA,” “Looking”) is behind drama “Strangers,” based on the novel by Taichi Yamada. In the vein of Charlie Kaufman’s “I’m Thinking of Ending Things,” the film follows a screenwriter (Mescal) who is pulled back into his childhood home where he discovers that his long-dead parents are living and haven’t aged a day. Claire Foy and Andrew Scott also star, along with Jamie Bell. The film will be released in fall 2023.
“Merrily We Roll Along”
Mescal joined the cast of Richard Linklater’s adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s musical “Merrily We Roll Along.” Similar to Linklater’s “Boyhood,” production, the film will span more than two decades. The musical, which is an adaptation of a Broadway play by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, centers on three friends pursuing careers in various facets of the entertainment industry and charts how their lives change as they age. “Merrily We Roll Along” is famously told in reverse chronological order. Mescal plays composer Franklin Shepard; Blake Jenner was initially cast in the role.
Ben Platt and Beanie Feldstein also star, rounding out the core friend group for the feature.
“One down, eight parts to go,” Linklater told IndieWire in March 2022. “We shot the end. We’re making it as we go. It’s not ‘Boyhood.’ There are a ton of gaps. Nine times in 20 years. So far, it’s been a wonderful experience. It’s really cool. But come on, it’s so far off. I’ve got nothing much to say about it.”
“The End of Getting Lost”
Deniz Gamze Ergüven (“Perry Mason,” “The Last Thing He Told Me”) directs thriller “The End of Getting Lost” about a young couple that travels through Europe to escape their past. The only issue? The wife can’t remember who her husband really is. Based on the novel by Robin Kirman, Mescal is cast in the sinister spouse role; additional casting has yet to be announced.
“The History of Sound”
Mescal and Josh O’Connor star in historical drama “The History of Sound” about two men during World War I who set out to record the lives, voices, and music of Americans. “Living” director Oliver Hermanus is set to helm the period piece.
“A Spy by Nature”
Mescal gives his best James Bond impression in action film “A Spy by Nature” about a disillusioned 20something whose gift for deception catches the eye of MI6 and gets him caught up in the thrusts of a geopolitical war on commodities involving the British and the Americans, per the official synopsis. Kevin MacDonald (“The Mauritanian”) directs from a script by “Plane” writer Charles Cumming and “Trainspotting” scribe John Hodge.
Mescal plays Joaquin Phoenix’s grown-up nephew in Ridley Scott’s “Gladiator” sequel, set 20 years after the events of the Oscar-winning original film starring Russell Crowe. Mescal takes over the role of Lucius, the nephew of since-deceased Commodus (Phoenix) who was killed by Crowe’s Maximus. Lucius is the son of Lucilla (Connie Nielsen) and grandson of Marcus Aurelius.
Fellow 2023 Oscar nominee Barry Keoghan is also reported to be cast as Emperor Geta, with Denzel Washington cast in an undisclosed role.
“Gladiator 2” is written by Scott’s “Napoleon” screenwriter David Scarpa. “Top Gun: Maverick” scribe Peter Craig was previously attached as a screenwriter when “Gladiator 2” was being developed by Paramount; the studio is no longer attached.
Original “Gladiator” collaborators, costume designer Janty Yates and production designer Arthur Max, are returning along with director-producer Scott. Scott Free President Michael Pruss, plus Doug Wick and Lucy Fisher via Red Wagon Entertainment, are also producing.
Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.