'Normal People' Star Paul Mescal on Wearing a Sports Jacket for the Emmys: "I'd Be Lying If I Said I Hadn't Considered It"

Normal People -Paul Mescal- Publicity Still - H 2020
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The Irish breakout has capped off a truly transformative 2020 with an Emmy nomination, but says any recognition will be shared with his co-star Daisy Edgar-Jones.

Paul Mescal’s somewhat unusual 2020 — at least compared to most other people around the world — has been well documented.

The young Irish actor went into the COVID-19 lockdown an emerging talent looking forward to his first significant on-screen debut and — thanks to one of the most talked about TV shows of the year — emerged the other side a bona fide star, not to mention a new Instagram obsession.

Mescal is now also a Primetime Emmy nominee, his critically-lauded performance as Connell Waldron in Normal People earning him a place in the category for best actor in a limited series or television movie, where he’s rubbing shoulders with some ever-so-slightly more established figures, namely Jeremy Irons (Watchmen), Mark Ruffalo (I Know This Much is True), Hugh Jackman (Bad Education) and Jeremy Pope (Hollywood).

According to The Hollywood Reporter’s own awards columnist, Scott Feinberg, Mescal is now tipped to win, something that would cap off a truly transformative few months for the 24-year-old.

Speaking to the THR during a quick break in filming a new project (he’s not allowed to say what, but it’s shooting somewhere with very bad reception), Mescal discusses sharing any recognition with his Normal People co-star Daisy Edgar-Jones and what he might wear on the night of the virtual Emmys (which will actually be early his morning in the U.K.). Designer sports jacket manufacturers might want to pay close attention.

Last time we spoke was right after Normal People had come out and you were sort of the epicenter of the insanity. Have things calmed down a little?

I think it has calmed down a bit, more so in the sense that the prospect of going back to work now seems like a possibility. My own personal focuses are moving towards that. But I still feel like the show is still very much in the public conversation, but probably my own perspective of it has shifted ever so slightly.

But are photographers still lurking outside your flat? Are you finding new Instagram accounts dedicated to things you've worn?

Ha! That has calmed down slightly. But I don’t want to jinx it.

Huge congratulations on the Emmy nominations. Were you listening when the names were called out?

I hadn’t planned to, but I had half an hour off just by chance and thought I may as well just watch it. And as soon as it got to my category and I heard, I just put the phone down and walked away from it. Then it started going off. It was great.

Have you been paying attention to any of the awards chatter since then about who might win or not? 

My brother sends me them. He sent me The Hollywood Reporter one, but also those saying I’ve got no chance all all. Both positive and negative. I don’t ask him for it but he does it anyway. I just keep telling him: Please don’t send me anything, it’s not good for my mental health.

It's a shame that Daisy wasn’t nominated as well. But I imagine any acknowledgment you receive will be shared with her?

Without a doubt. I think it goes without saying that the show depends on both of us, so any recognition for either of the individuals is for both of us. And I have no doubt that if the shoe was on the other foot, which it so easily could have been, she would do the exact same thing for me.

What are your plans on the night. Do you have to record an acceptance speech in advance?

As far as I know, it’s live. But it’s going to be very early in the morning and the dress code is, 'come as you are, but make an effort.' Seems pretty vague!

Any plans for that?

I’m going to come as I am and I’m going to make an effort. Ha! I actually don’t know what the exact time is, but I’m really looking forward to it, regardless of whether it’s virtual or not. It’s my first Emmys and something I’m pretty proud of.

Jus for the fans, have you had thoughts about donning a sports jacket and pair of white shorts?

I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t considered it. But it might have to be a little more formal than that, unless it’s a proper designer jacket, but who knows...