Spotlight Project: Aftersun

At a fading vacation resort, 11-year-old Sophie treasures rare time together with her loving and idealistic father, Calum. As a world of adolescence creeps into view, beyond her eye Calum struggles under the weight of life outside of fatherhood. Twenty years later, Sophie's tender recollections of their last holiday become a powerful and heartrending portrait of their relationship, as she tries to reconcile the father she knew with the man she didn't.

Paul Mescal for Los Angeles Times

Paul sat down with Los Angeles Times and talked about his Oscar nomination and his career. It’s only a few photos, but Paul looks great in this photoshoot. If you’re not able to read the full article on Times’ website, I have added the article on this site as part of our upcoming press archive!

“Madness.” That’s how Paul Mescal dubs his unexpected lead actor Oscar nomination for playing Calum, the unfathomable young father at the heart of writer-director Charlotte Wells’ beautifully haunting “Aftersun.”

“A lot of the nominees know they’re gonna be nominated on the day,” says the Irishman — born in the small town of Maynooth, County Kildare,15 miles west of Dublin — over Zoom from London three days before his 27th birthday in early February, and barely an hour after stepping offstage at the Almeida Theatre, where he’s earned glowing notices portraying Stanley Kowalski in Rebecca Frecknall’s sold-out revival of Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire.” “But we had no idea… It was genuinely thrilling.”

“Madness” and “genuinely thrilling” define Mescal’s impressive ascent since catapulting onto the scene in Hulu’s 2020 limited series “Normal People,” playing sensitive jock Connell, a performance that netted him an Emmy nomination and a BAFTA TV Award win.

Since then, he’s appeared in the films “The Lost Daughter,” “God’s Creatures” and “Carmen” with cast mates including Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley, Dakota Johnson, Emily Watson and Rossy de Palma. He’ll soon co-star in a slate of fresh movies alongside the likes of Beanie Feldstein, Ben Platt, Andrew Scott, Saoirse Ronan, Claire Foy and Josh O’Connor.

So charged has been Mescal’s schedule over the last three years that he’s had only a couple months off here and there, which is just how the man likes it.

“Enough for a break, but not enough to get itchy again,” he says, revealing his insatiable appetite for work, and his opinion that actors are “phenomenal people.” While he’ll forever be grateful to Wells — whom he “loves deeply” — for helping him earn his first Oscar nomination in her first feature, what is particularly gratifying is that the honor was bestowed upon him by the academy’s acting branch. “For that to come from my peers is one of the coolest things ever,” he continues. “The thing I feel most is a great sense of pride in the work I’ve made to date, and pride in the people I have worked for… I work hard for just the opportunities to make films, and I work hard on the films that I get.”

Interestingly, Mescal’s not sure he was “a fan” of theater growing up. While he was exposed to music, the arts and culture in a home headed by a semi-pro actor father, his first love was Gaelic football, at which he excelled as a teen. Had it not been for Maynooth Post Primary School’s proviso compelling all fourth-year students to try out for its annual high school musical, the world may never have discovered Mescal’s dramatic gifts.

“I definitely wanted to be in it,” he stresses. “I didn’t go into the audition reluctantly. But I think, had it been an optional thing, it probably would’ve passed me by because I don’t know if I would’ve had the confidence, at 16, to turn to my friends and be like, by the way, I’m gonna audition for ‘Phantom of the Opera.’”

But he did audition — and won the title role. He “immediately” fell in love with being onstage and went on to earn a degree in acting from the Lir Academy at Trinity College Dublin at 21. “I had the most profoundly wonderful time in drama school. I loved every second of it. It was difficult… I needed the time to figure out what I liked about acting, what I felt I was good at, what I felt I was bad at.”

Los Angeles Times
21 February '23

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