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 The Hollywood Reporter

Paul is featured in today’s issue of The Hollywood Reporter and with a very fitting title of Everybody Hearts Paul Mescal! We have also been blessed with a pretty new photoshoot. You can read an excerpt of the feature below, and photos in our gallery! I’ll add scans when I get them!

On the day he turned 16, Paul Mescal was on a stage, being presented with a cake by the cast and crew of his high school production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera. “That’s the first thing I ever did, so I actually take great pride in it,” says Mescal of his public acting debut, playing the Phantom. (The entire production has been uploaded by the school to YouTube. Mescal is a gifted high baritone.) “That was the moment when I was like, ‘Oh fuck — this adrenaline is incredible,’ ” he says. “I’ve never felt a high like that.”

Imagine the high, then, that Mescal is feeling today, his 27th birthday. He’ll spend it on a stage once more, as the marquee draw of the hottest theater ticket in London, possibly even the English-speaking world. It’s a radical reworking of Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire starring Mescal as Stanley Kowalski, the part that famously launched Marlon Brando, first on Broadway then in film. The reviews have been stellar, with THR praising his menacing Stanley as a “ticking time bomb” whose “destruction of Blanche” — Dubois, the play’s faded debutante, played by Spanish-British actress Patsy Ferran — “is deliberate, cruel and shocking.”

Adding to the adrenaline is the fact that this birthday comes nine days after Mescal learned he’d been nominated for an Oscar for his work in A24’s Aftersun, a festival darling from first-time director Charlotte Wells of Scotland. With that, Mescal gains entry into one of Hollywood’s most exclusive and illustrious clubs: 26-year-old best actor nominees. It consists of Orson Welles for Citizen Kane, James Dean for Giant, Heath Ledger for Brokeback Mountain and Ryan Gosling for Half-Nelson. If he wins — and it’s anyone’s race with five first-time nominees, including his fellow Irishman Colin Farrell — he will be the youngest best actor winner ever, beating Adrien Brody by three years.

It’s a bit much to take in for a guy who just three years ago was an anonymous young theater actor in Dublin. “It’s a world that I may be starting to understand slightly,” he says of his success. “And I love work. If I could work every day, every hour, I would. I get itchy when I’m not working. I know at some point I’ll get tired and probably burn out for a little bit, but I don’t feel that now.”

For our rendezvous, Mescal suggests a health food spot — though he’ll only drink a coffee, then later politely ask to smoke a cigarette — a few blocks from the Almeida Theatre, a 325-seat venue in North London where Streetcar has been playing to packed houses since Dec. 20. Mescal saunters up having come directly from the gym, wearing a long overcoat (a label on the cuff reads Gucci) over a navy fleece and worn denim jeans. A cap bearing the name of his health club is tucked over his famous gray blue eyes.

The Saturday prior, Nicole Kidman was in attendance at Streetcar and led that evening’s standing ovation. (“She came to the [men’s] dressing room. We were in our pants,” says Mescal, referring to underwear.) The Almeida has been an incubator for many successful West End transfers. Sure enough, this Streetcar, directed by Rebecca Frecknall — who won an Olivier Award directing Eddie Redmayne and Jessie Buckley in a 2021 Cabaret revival — will relocate to London’s Phoenix Theatre in March. Every ticket for the six-week West End run sold out in a single day.

I ask him about the Oscar nomination, his emotional reaction to which was documented in a family Zoom, shared on social media by his younger sister Nell. His mother, recently diagnosed with cancer, had gotten her hair cut short that day in preparation for chemotherapy. The family is in tears. Shocked faces. Joyful disbelief.

Did it come as a total surprise to him? “It’s very hard to avoid the forecasting,” Mescal says. “So I was kind of aware that I was maybe on the bubble — like on the outside of potentially getting a nomination. I was aware that films like Aftersun aren’t the go-to Oscar pick a lot of the time. So it was a big surprise. The surprise was real. Yeah.”

The Hollywood Reporter

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