Paul Mescal was born 2 February 1996) is an Irish actor. Born in Maynooth, he graduated from The Lir Academy in 2017 and subsequently performed in plays, such as The Great Gatsby, Asking for It and The Lieutenant of Inishmore, in Dublin theatres. Mescal received praise for his starring role in the miniseries Normal People (2020), earning a British Academy Television Award as well as nominations for a Primetime Emmy Award and a Critics’ Choice Television Award. The following year, he made his film debut in the psychological drama The Lost Daughter.
Upon obtaining his Bachelor of Arts degree, Mescal was offered roles in two theatrical 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. Mescal played a role 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 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 as well. In 2020, Mescal performed in the play The Lieutenant of Inishmore at Dublin’s Gaiety Theatre.
Mescal starred in his first television role opposite Daisy Edgar-Jones in the drama series Normal People, an adaptation of the 2018 novel of the same name by Sally Rooney. It premiered in the UK on BBC Three on 26 April 2020 and in the US on Hulu three days later. 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. Mescal’s performance earned him acclaim as well as the British Academy Television Award for Best Actor. In their respective reviews for Variety and Slate, Caroline Framke called Mescal’s 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.
Mescal 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 Deceived, The Independent critic Ed Power highlighted Mescal’s effortless “sleepy-eyed charm” and “flawless” Donegal accent . Later in the year, he appeared in Phoebe Bridgers‘ music video for the song “Savior Complex”, directed by Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
Mescal made his feature film debut in The Lost Daughter, directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal in her directorial debut. Released in December 2021, the psychological drama garnered favourable reviews. The following year, Mescal starred as a young father in the drama Aftersun and a criminally accused man in the psychological drama God’s Creatures, both of which premiered at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival. The two films received positive reviews, with Mescal’s performances gaining praise. He portrays leading roles in Carmen, a contemporary film adaptation of the opera of the same name, and Foe, an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Iain Reid.
Mescal is attached to star in the films Bring Them Down, a thriller; The History of Sound, a romance; The End of Getting Lost, a mystery; and Strangers, an adaptation of Taichi Yamada‘s novel of the same name. He is set to star as Stanley Kowalski in the play A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams at the Almeida Theater, set to run from December 2022 to February 2023.
Mescal resides in London. He plays the piano. In July 2020, the actor performed spoken word and sang with Irish singer Dermot Kennedy at the London Natural History Museum. He performed in a virtual stage reading of the play This Is Our Youth by Kenneth Lonergan as part of a series to benefit the Actors Fund of America charity in October of the same year.