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.

95th Annual Academy Awards

Paul attended the much-awaited Academy Awards last night in Hollywood, California, standing out in a white Gucci suit. He took his family with him, and his mother joined him on the red carpet and inside during the show. Paul was nominated for Actor in a Leading Role for his performance in Aftersun. Unfortunately, he didn’t win and Brendan Fraser got the award for The Whale. Still, an Oscar nomination is already a huge achievement, so congratulations to Paul! We love you and we are so proud of you. Visit our gallery for photos of Paul at the awards ceremony and the Vanity Fair after-party!

13 March '23

2023 Film Independent Spirit Awards

Paul attended this year’s Film Independent Spirit Awards held yesterday in Santa Monica. He looked so good in that turquoise jacket and perfectly fit for the portraits! He was nominated for Best Lead Performance for his performance in Aftersun, and the award went to Michelle Yeoh for Everything Everywhere All at Once. Director Charlotte Wells took home the Best First Feature, so still congratulations to the entire cast and crew! Visit our gallery for photos of Paul at the event, including some gorgeous portraits!

05 March '23

Paul for The Wrap

Paul is featured in this month’s issue of The Wrap magazine! Check out some outtakes and scans in our gallery!

One of the exciting things about your nomination is that “Aftersun” is kind of an anti-Oscary movie. It doesn’t have big emotional showdowns and such. Even in your big scene, we don’t see your face.
I would love to take some credit for that but I think that’s innately what Charlotte wanted from the film and in the screenplay that Charlotte wrote. I don’t think that the film was manipulative or pushy in terms of asking an audience to feel things. I think as a result, mine and Frankie’s job was to come in and understand the task at hand. And that was to just step into a quiet film. The running joke with me and my friends on my team is, like, I have no idea what clip they’re going to use for this. [Laughs.]

I do take great pride in the fact that I don’t think it’s a classically Oscar-y performance, but also, it’s a testament, I think, to the actors branch of the Academy who went out and voted for it anyway. Had I not been in it, it’s the kind of film that I would want to see as an actor.

What’s it like to be in this category of nominees? It’s wonderfully age diverse category, and it’s people doing very internal work. Have you gotten to know the guys ?
I have. The pre-nomination campaign, I was doing the play so I didn’t bump into people, but at the nominees lunch, I bumped into Bill [Nighy] a couple of times, met Brendan [Fraser] and Colin [Farrell] properly, and bumped into Austin [Butler]. So I’m hoping that over the next few weeks, we’ll be seeing much more of each other. But yeah, in terms of the standard of the work, to be in and amongst them — it’s just a massive honor that isn’t lost on me at all. 

You’ve had an incredible year with great projects like “Aftersun,” “God’s Creatures” and an Olivier-nominated turn in “A Streetcar Named Desire” in the West End. There are many more projects coming up. You’ve become a very unclassifiable actor in the most wonderful way. Is that something you’re conscious of?
I don’t think I’m a particularly patient person, right? It can feel rapid and all-encompassing, but I think at the moment I would struggle with, say, doing a recurring series or something — and not for any reason other than my own disposition, which is just that I like changing it up. Things that feel innately different are more interesting to me. But it’s not a roadmap of, like, “We’ve done something small and intimate. So now we need big studio moments.” The choices I’m making are related to predominantly the screenplays that I’m reading.

Speaking of changing it up, we have to ask about the progress of Richard Linklater’s “Merrily We Roll Along,” which will be shot over 20 years as the characters age. What’s it like to work on something nobody will see for a long time?
We’ve shot the first segment, and we’ll shoot the second segment this year at some point. I imagine that there will be a curiosity at the halfway point to be, like, ‘How does it all look?’ It’s such an interesting process, because we know that we’re going to be filming for 20 years. I imagine it will be very humbling.

Do you imagine going back to the stage now, during the height of all of this attention, as a palate cleanser?
I think it makes me a better actor. I love the structure of my day when I’m working on stage. I mean, there’s nothing really palate cleanser-like about Stanley Kowalski. It’s one of the most exhausting characters that I’ve played. I feel like the palate cleanser will be whatever the fuck I do after. [Laughs.] Just like I don’t feel like [Ridley Scott’s sequel to] “Gladiator” is going to be a palate cleanser. But it’s the only way I know how to work. I think this gap was the longest that I was ever off stage. And it felt like too long for me.

What was it like to do the play amid all the attention you received for “Aftersun”? Because I have worked on stage productions and I know what that eight-show-a-week schedule is like. It’s hard to absorb other things within that. Was that challenging?
I didn’t really have to absorb much because had there been a real expectation that we were going to be firmly in the mix for a nomination, it would have made the play probably more difficult, or it would have been a more difficult conversation because there was no world in which I was ever not going to do the play.

There was never a firm expectation that this [nomination] was ever going to happen for my performance. It wasn’t particularly forecasted. I think it was, like, champions in the media and in the news, who were like, “We really enjoyed the performance.” And that was enough. I think we were wonderfully outside of the bubble and just let it be what it was going to be, and it ended up being this. I’m blown away by the fact that has happened. 

Any chance you might bring your Stanley Kowalski to the Broadway stage?
I imagine there would be conversations happening somewhere, but to be honest, I don’t know. We’re just focusing on getting it up in London. I mean, if I do a play on Broadway, I can call it quits and be a happy actor.

03 March '23

29th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards

Paul attended this year’s Screen Actors Guild Awards held last night in Los Angeles. He wasn’t nominated for an award, but he was there as a presenter. He and Zendaya presented the Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series award, which was won by Jessica Chastain. Visit our gallery for photos of Paul at the event! More coming soon!

27 February '23

Paul for ES Magazine

It’s raining new photoshoots! Paul has done a new one for ES Magazine. In this interview, Paul talks about his new-found fame and also answered some questions in Everything London Wants to Know. Check it out the video below, along with an excerpt of the article, and photos in our gallery! Scans will definitely be added soon.

A woman recently stopped Paul Mescal to ask whether she could have her photo taken with him. They were outside the Almeida Theatre in Islington where Mescal was starring in a sellout run of the Tennessee Williams classic, A Streetcar Named Desire. ‘As we posed for it, she put her hand on my ass,’ he says with a frown. ‘I thought it was an accident, so I like…’ he gets up from his chair and shimmies awkwardly away from an imaginary hand, ‘but the hand followed. I remember tensing up and feeling just, like, fury.’ So what did he do? ‘I turned to her and said, “What’re you doing? Take your hand off my ass.”’

We are in a dressing room in a north London photography studio. Next door, a team is preparing the set for our shoot. ‘The last thing I want to do,’ he says, skewering me with a very blue-eyed gaze as he sits back down, ‘is call somebody out in front of the theatre — it’s uncomfortable for everyone involved — but it was really not okay. It was so gross, creepy.’ This has been Mescal’s experience of fame so far, he tells me: ‘97 per cent of it is really nice — then 3 per cent is somebody, like, grabbing your ass.’

There is a palpable energy around the 27-year-old Irish actor. Not just because of Streetcar (a resounding triumph, garnering a slew of five-star reviews and a transfer to the West End in March) but also, of course, because of the Oscar. Mescal has been nominated in the Best Actor category for his portrayal of young father Calum in Charlotte Wells’ Aftersun. ‘It’s crazy, right?’ He seems sweetly awe-struck when I bring it up. Today he arrived wearing a fleece top and jeans, very low key. He doesn’t look like an LA movie star but there is something compelling about him, he has presence. ‘Look, I’m not going to win,’ he is saying — his voice is low and gravelly, he’s got that inviting Irish brogue. ‘So it’s kind of low-stakes pressure, I can basically just sit back and enjoy it.’ It hits him every so often, he says, ‘like if I’ve a film coming out, now it will say, “Oscar-nominee Paul Mescal,” and I’m like, “Whoa that’s mad.” It’s just cool, I’m going to be at the thing I remember watching when I was growing up. And when they call out the best actors there’s going to be a camera on me and my mum, waiting to clap for — hopefully — Colin Farrell.’ He says he’ll have a speech prepared just in case. ‘But only because I didn’t have one for the Baftas [he won Leading Actor for Normal People in 2021]. I was convinced I wouldn’t win and then had a full brain .’ He mimes his head exploding. ‘I saw Michaela Coel backstage straight after and she was like, “Well done, well done — you should have prepared a speech,”’ he laughs. ‘So I’m going to write one and then have it framed when I never have to use it.’

Mescal has a cold today; he’s drinking Lemsip and says that he’s on some kind of post-Streetcar comedown. It’s unsurprising. I saw the play on the last day of its six-week run at the Almeida; his role, as the story’s brutish lodestar, Stanley Kowalski (a part made famous in 1951 by a young Marlon Brando) is incredibly physical. The thing about watching famous people on stage is that it can be hard to forget who they are. In Streetcar, though, Mescal sheds the mild-mannered, smiley self he is today and becomes men acing, a bestial and imposing abuser. A frightening presence. ‘I had to have a steroid shot to go on that day,’ he says. ‘I barely got through it. I think my body knew it was coming to the end of the run.’

There’s a sense of barely repressed violence in his portrayal of Kowalski. In God’s Creatures, too — a film coming to cinemas in March, co-starring Emily Watson — he plays Brian, a young man accused of rape. He is charming and vulnerable but also a little frightening. ‘The minute Emily was on board I was over the moon. I’ve admired her work for so long; the thing I noticed was how easy it was for her to lead us as a cast. I loved every second.’ That glimmer of violence is also present in his portrayal of Calum in Aftersun. Where does that hint of menace come from? ‘Somewhere deep within…’ he starts, before laughing. ‘No, I’m joking, I don’t know. I mean, it has to come from someplace and it probably does come from within myself.’

ES Magazine
23 February '23