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.


Full Name: Paul Mescal
Date of Birth: 02 February 1996
Place of Birth: Maynooth, County Kildare, Republic of Ireland
Nationality: Irish
Eye Colour: Blue
Hair Colour: Dark Brown
Height: 5′ 11″

Paul Mescal was born on 02 February 1996 in Maynooth County Kildare to Dearbhla, a Garda officer, and Paul, a schoolteacher who acted semi-professionally as well. The eldest of three children, he has a brother and a sister. He attended Maynooth Post Primary School. He was a minor and under-21 Gaelic football player for Kildare and a member of the Maynooth GAA club. Gaelic footballer Brian Lacey praised Paul’s skills as a defender, while physical trainer Cian O’Neill described him as “mature beyond his years … very developed and very strong”. He gave up the sport after a jaw injury. Paul performed on stage for the first time at age 16, portraying the titular Phantom in the musical The Phantom of the Opera, after which he auditioned and gained admission to The Lir Academy at Trinity College Dublin. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Acting in 2017. He secured agents for his acting career prior to his graduation.

Theatre and Television Roles

Upon obtaining his Bachelor of Arts degree, Paul was offered roles in two theatre productions, Angela’s Ashes and The Great Gatsby; he took on the latter and starred as the titular Jay Gatsby at the Gate Theatre in Dublin. He also portrayed the Prince in a contemporary retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Red Shoes at the same theatre that year. Paul then appeared in the world premiere of the 2018 play Asking for It by Louise O’Neill at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin; Steve Cummins of The Times commended his distinctive performance. That same year, he made his London stage debut in The Plough and the Stars at the Lyric Hammersmith and starred in the Rough Magic Theatre Company’s productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the Kilkenny Arts Festival and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man for the Dublin Theatre Festival. In 2020, he performed in the play The Lieutenant of Inishmore at Dublin’s Gaiety Theatre.

Paul starred in his first television role in the drama miniseries Normal People, an adaptation of the 2018 novel of the same name by Sally Rooney. It premiered in the UK on BBC Three and in the US on Hulu in 2020. He played student Connell Waldron; he viewed the role as different from himself in the way Waldron’s traits include hesitance and emotional unavailability. Like the actor did in real life, the character plays Gaelic football and attends Trinity College. The role propelled Paul to fame. He earned acclaim as well as the BAFTA TV Award for Best Actor for his performance. In their respective reviews for Variety and Slate, Caroline Framke called his navigation through the character’s emotional collapse “breathtaking”, while Willa Paskin noted his concurrent embodiment of “intelligence, insecurity and quiet confidence”. He also received nominations for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie and the Critics’ Choice Television Award for Best Actor in a Movie/Miniseries.

Paul starred in Drifting, a short film, which was screened at the 2020 Galway Film Fleadh. He played a firefighter in the Channel 5 miniseries The Deceived and appeared in the music video for the song “Scarlet” by The Rolling Stones in August. Reviewing The DeceivedThe Independent critic Ed Power highlighted Mescal’s effortless “sleepy-eyed charm” and “flawless” Donegal accent.

Film Career

Paul made his feature film debut with a supporting role in The Lost Daughter, directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal in her directorial debut. Released in 2021, the psychological drama garnered favourable reviews. The following year, he starred as a troubled young father in the drama Aftersun and a man accused of sexual assault in the psychological drama God’s Creatures, both of which premiered at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival. The two films received positive reviews, with his performances gaining praise. Carlos Aguilar of TheWrap wrote that in Aftersun, Paul “turns in one of the very best roles in his still emergent career”, adding that he “continues to assert himself as an actor drawn to portrayals of conflicted men in projects with hefty pathos”. He received nominations for the Academy Award for Best Actor and the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role.

Also in 2022, Paul starred in Carmen, a contemporary film adaptation of the opera of the same name. He began playing Stanley Kowalski in a revival of the play A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams at the Almeida Theatre in December 2022. Reviewing the production for The Times, Dominic Maxwell found Paul “tremendous” and opined that he “makes the latent violence of Stanley Kowalski into something easy, tangible, vibrant yet unactorly.” The production is scheduled to transfer to the West End in March 2023.

Paul will next star in Foe, an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Iain Reid, and in Strangers, an adaptation of Taichi Yamada’s novel of the same name. He replaced Blake Jenner in the role of a composer in Richard Linklater’s Merrily We Roll Along, a film adaptation of the 1981 musical of the same name, which is set be filmed over 20 years.