Just hours before the 95th annual Academy Awards, Paul Mescal was surrounded by his family in a hotel room in Los Angeles. “You can probably hear them in the background, we’re very much all here,” he told W over the phone. Indeed, the warm chatter from his mother, father, brother Donnacha and sister Nell—all of whom had been attending events with Mescal throughout the weekend could be heard in the background.
The 27-year-old Irish actor has had a banner few years, rising to fame during quarantine as the Internet’s favorite boyfriend Connell in Hulu’s Normal People. Since then, a slew of film roles have cemented Mescal’s leading man status including his Best Actor-nominated turn as a young, complicated father in Charlotte Wells’s Aftersun. When his nomination was announced, it had its own viral moment thanks to his sister Nell, a 19-year-old singer, sharing a heartfelt Tweet celebrating her brother’s success just as their mother, Dearbhla, was beginning chemotherapy for a recent cancer diagnosis.
So on Oscars night, it only made sense that the tight-knit family would be together. For the big event, the entire Mescal crew wore Gucci with jewelry from Cartier—an experience Dearbhla likened to “a Cinderella moment where the fairy godmother does her bippity-boppity-boo.” Hollywood itself brought its own sense of magic. “Being in LA is as far away from home we have ever been, and getting to be together under one roof doing ordinary family things and celebrating together, is truly special,” the family matriarch added.
To walk the red carpet, Mescal wore an ivory double-breasted tuxedo jacket from Gucci, with black trousers and a bowtie. He finished off the look with a red rosette, a Cartier diamond brooch and a single Juste un Clou earring in yellow gold from the famed jeweler. Below, Mescal shares a look at his pre-Oscars preparation.
Did your family weigh in at all on what you were going to wear?
I wouldn’t consult with my family. I just look for praise from them. But I work very closely with Felicity [Kay], who’s my stylist. We have a very collaborative sense on what I want to wear and how she wants it to feel.
How would you describe your style?
I try to reference the classic Hollywood acts. Paul Newman always looked fucking immaculate. That’s the target, but it’s tough company to keep. In terms of silhouettes, I want it to feel timeless, but also I don’t want to feel stuffy or old. I’m 27, so I want my personality to be reflected in the clothes that I wear.
You mentioned Paul Newman. Do you have any other big fashion influences?
Humphrey Bogart, Brando, James Dean. I know they’re probably named constantly. But that era of actor is aesthetically just so, I don’t know, I just think it’s beautiful.
How has your style evolved since you were younger?
I didn’t really care about fashion as a teenager. It wasn’t until I started acting that I became more creatively expressive in the way I chose clothes. Outside of red carpets and things like that, I would describe my style as casual street wear, with a vintage-y feel. The red carpets always feel like a departure. So that’s why it’s fun to step into something more formal. I have an aversion to formal in any setting other than a red carpet or a big event.
The red carpet, of course, can be a nerve-racking experience. Is there anything you do ahead of time to prepare mentally—any kind of rituals?
I have a little drink, listen to music. I tend to listen to Irish music when I’m away from home or feel far away from home, The Gloaming or Ye Vagabonds. But Mitski’s been in the mix a lot in the dressing room at the moment.
What’s your drink of choice typically?
Whatever’s there. Something strong. What am I drinking at the moment? I like a Moscow mule or tequila sour. Gucci gave me a very nice bottle of mezcal, which felt apt. We’re going to have a toast before we leave the house, but it’s a long day so I’m trying to pace myself.
Speaking of Gucci, what’s your earliest memory or first thing you owned from the brand?
They made me a custom tux for the BAFTAs in 2021—the first big award show that I ever went to—and we’ve worked very closely ever since that. At that point I was nervous about clothes and they made me feel very comfortable in that setting. Now the Oscars look is something that feels organic. I’ve never felt uncomfortable in their clothes in the way I think I have in other brands. And that’s a testament to them and understanding that actors aren’t models, do you know what I mean? It’s not about just wearing the clothes, it’s about the clothes being an extension of your own personality.
Do you have anything you wear for good luck?
Yeah, I have signet ring that I love and I always wear. It’s got a little P on it. I’d wear my signet ring and the love band from Cartier.
Do you have any fashion regrets?
The teenage years were a dark time for me in fashion. There was lots of polo shirts under jumpers and ill-fitted jeans that were scraping along the floor, but I didn’t really care at that point. All is fair in love and war.
Beyond supporting you, who do you think your parents and your siblings are most excited to see or meet at the Oscars?
Dad is pestering me to meet Bill Nighy, which I can’t blame him for. We did the BAFTAs together and I think that gave everybody a flavor that it’s impossible to plan to meet anybody, because it’s just so vast. But I don’t know, I think it’s about us as a family and celebrating this time with the filmmakers—with Charlie and Adela and Amy, and celebrating with my family and staying in our own lane. Enjoying it and whoever else seems to come in over the night, we’ll just have fun with them. But I’m trying not to plan the night.
And lastly, after a whirlwind 2022 for you, what is in store for next year? What are you working on?
Well I go back into rehearsals on Tuesday for Streetcar and then shoot Gladiator in the summer. And Strangers are coming out at the end of the year. So yeah, it’s busy times.