10 Interesting Reveals From Behind the Scenes of Normal People
The TV adaptation of Sally Rooney’s book Normal People is available on Hulu now and is already gaining as much praise as the book. The show, which takes place in Ireland, stars Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal as Marianne and Connell, two young people from different backgrounds who grow together and apart and back together over the course of a few years.
As you dive into this highly anticipated show, check out some of the fun and fascinating behind-the-scenes tidbits the stars and crew have revealed about filming – including Edgar-Jones and Mescal’s hilarious story about breaking the ice back in the beginning. Then check out the series on Hulu, streaming now.
Paul Mescal Was Less Than Cool When He First Met Sally Rooney
Because he’s such a fan of Sally Rooney’s work and quite grateful to have been cast in this role, Paul Mescal told EW that he may have lost his cool a little bit the first time he met Rooney. “I definitely wasn’t cool when I met her. I was in total awe. Any time I meet her now, it’s still the same.”
Daisy Edgar-Jones Was the Last Cast
Paul Mescal Always Had a Copy of the Book Close by While Filming
To make sure he always had a reference point, Paul Mescal told EW that he always had a copy of Sally Rooney’s book nearby during filming. “I re-read and re-read and re-read. When you’ve got a piece of source material as rich as that, that you’re not going to get in every job, you definitely embrace it.”
The Emotionally Vulnerable Scenes Were the Hardest For Daisy Edgar-Jones
Rather than point to Marianne and Connell’s intimate scenes as the most difficult to film, Daisy Edgar-Jones instead told i-D that her most challenging scenes were the ones where she and Paul Mescal had to be emotionally vulnerable. She said to i-D, “The depth and detail that Sally puts into every moment is so relatable as a human being.”
Paul Mescal Fibbed About Having a Driver's License to Get the Role
Paul Mescal didn’t have a license when he first threw his name into the hat for the role of Connell, but his agent told him they weren’t going to let that minor detail stand in their way. “My agent was like, ‘We are not losing this job over you not being able to drive so I’ll tell production that you can and in the meantime, you go off and rattle through as many lessons as you can,'” Mescal told EW.
Daisy Edgar-Jones Left Paul Mescal on Read Before They Started Filming
Burn! Paul Mescal revealed to British Vogue that when he texted Daisy Edgar-Jones that he was happy they were going to be in Normal People together, it took Edgar-Jones two days to reply! She claimed she never read the text, but Mescal insisted that the blue tick showed up (aka, proof it had been read).
Sally Rooney Felt Detached From the TV Show Characters
Despite creating these characters for her 2018 book, Sally Rooney said that when it came time to adapt the story for TV, she felt more detached from Connell and Marianne. “While I was writing the novel, I was completely alone with Marianne and Connell, and they really felt at times like projections of myself,” she told Express. “Writing the show was a different experience, and it allowed me to see the characters in a new way, as if from the outside. I found myself feeling sorry for them – which I don’t think I ever did when I was writing the book.”
It Took a Mistaken Fart to Break the Ice in Their Sex Scenes
Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal had to shoot what Mescall calls “intimate” scenes, and one of the early shots broke the ice with the two quickly. He told BBC Three that he and Edgar-Jones were wearing fake sweat and when they went to change positions on set, their skin came in contact in such a way that it sounded like someone had farted. “Like a massive fart,” Edgar-Jones added. “The crew thought one of us had actually farted, and they were all being really polite.”
“And then you blamed me,” Mescal said to Edgar-Jones. Ice = broken.
Daisy Edgar-Jones Was Nervous About Nailing the Irish Accent
Going into the project, Daisy Edgar-Jones new Normal People was a hugely popular story, so she felt a lot of pressure to get the role of Marianne right. She was especially nervous about one thing in particular: “I was anxious about the accent, as well, because it’s quite specific,” the British actress told i-D.
The Cast Had an Intimacy Expert For Help With Sex Scenes
Normal People‘s showrunners brought in Ita O’Brien to be an intimacy coordinator and work with Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal. Edgar-Jones told i-D that with O’Brien’s help, all she and Mescal had to do was worry about the story and O’Brien took care of the “choreography” of those scenes. “She was wonderful, she always made sure that we were comfortable with everything and we felt safe and were well looked after.”
Director Lenny Abrahamson was hesitant about having O’Brien on set at first, because he felt it would come across as having “a health and safety officer for the bedroom,” he told Financial Times. He quickly changed his tune, though, after working with O’Brien, who also worked on Netflix’s Sex Education. “We did also have such a laugh because she’s got all these videos of different animals, from slugs to snakes to dogs to elephants, making love, so you can say, no, this is more of a sluggy moment. It’s a brilliant way of helping the actors to find an external language for it,” he added.