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Paul Mescal reveals Best Actor Oscar nomination for Aftersun felt ‘slightly absurd’

‘I don't think anybody or even I was expecting this’

Paul Mescal

Sunday World

Normal People’s Paul Mescal has described how his nomination for Best Actor at this year's Oscars for his role in Aftersun felt “slightly absurd” while revealing how it gave his family a lift.

In interview with the Today programme, the 26-year-old Maynooth actor told Martha Kearney how it was “all a bit overwhelming, especially for my family” who have recently been going through a hard time.

“I don't think anybody or even I was expecting this,” he said.

“I always knew that I was willing to work hard. From the space, from the time of graduating from drama school to now, hasn't been an awfully long time.

“But last Tuesday, when the nominations came out and the BAFTA’s the week before, something felt slightly absurd about it all.

“Mum and dad, like (there was) this stuff going on at home that is difficult and this has given my family a very welcome respite. I never thought that my job, something that I love very dearly, could do (that).”

He added: “Yeah, we're gonna have a great time, as a family, they're all coming out to LA.”

Martha Kearney said: “You're talking about something difficult, your sister Nell tweeted about on the day my mum's preparing for chemotherapy, the same day you get your Oscar nomination.”

“The universe works in kind of very interesting ways,” Mescal replied.

He was also asked about the moment when he had a choice in life, where he could have gone into sport, into GAA Gaelic football or acting but was forced to audition for a musical.

Paul explained: “I went to Maynooth Post Primary and now they have this policy that in transition year which is like the kind of interim year between your GCSEs and starting you’re a levels where it’s like a year off essentially.

"They do the school musical and they have a policy where regardless of whether you want to be in it or not, everybody's going to be in the school musical.

“You have to audition even if you have to go in and sing happy birthday, you have to go in and do it.

“I definitely wanted to be in the musical but I feel like had it not been for that policy I could have very much fallen through the cracks.

"In terms of, I don't know if I could have had the confidence to turn around to my friends who I was playing sport with and said, ‘I want to be in the school musical’. So that policy afforded a kind of possibility that I knew that I wanted.”

Mescal received his Academy Award nod last month at the same time his mum was about to undergo chemotherapy.

Paul’s mum Dearbhla got emotional speaking about her son’s achievement on Radio 1 with Ray D’Arcy – as she started her battle with cancer.

The mum-of-three has been open about her journey online, getting her first haircut in preparation for chemotherapy just hours before her son would receive his Oscar nomination.

"My mum got her first haircut today in prep for her chemotherapy and then Paul got nominated for an Oscar, life is so crazy,” his younger sister Nell said on Twitter.

Her mum Dearbhla got the chop “before the hospital short cut”, she said, later revealing a shorter hairstyle with a slight fringe.

“I know what’s ahead because I have been informed by my wonderful team and I want to be ready so that when I’m in hospital I’m only concentrating on that battle.

"This is the final stage for me to start living with this cancer.”

On her son’s Oscar nomination, Dearbhla revealed she had been “folding washing” to distract herself from the announcements.

“I don’t watch [the announcements] because I find them way too stressful, I was folding washing.

"I just waited for the WhatsApp,” she added.

"We have this WhatsApp group and there were shocked faces and crying eyes… just wow.

“Nobody knows before it’s announced so it is just this nerve wracking five hours once you wake up from waiting."

The proud mum called the moment “magic, joyful” and “bizarre” when host Ray D’Arcy said the words “Oscar-nominated” will now always follow her 26-year-old son’s name.

"When you look at the people he’s with… we kind of jokingly say we’re a country of storytellers and actually, when you see what we have produced, it’s quite amazing when you see the films that are there.

"And Paul is one of those very lucky ones to be in the mix.”

Dearbhla has had a rake of “pinch-me moments” in the previous week, she said, as she was in the audience of The Late Show as her youngest Nell performed her debut single live on Friday night.

The mum-of-three described the whirlwind three years her son has had since 2020, where he has since seen international stardom with Normal People, Aftersun and God’s Creatures.

"All I know is it’s wonderful to have those family – I mean everybody who has children away – family WhatsApp is just the business, and when you do that video call and everyone can be on it.

"Y’know, you don’t actually care what the news is going to be, you just want to see their faces.

"And for me, to see his face and to see him so shocked and so joyous and so grateful. I’m very grateful. I’m going to get emotional.

Dearbhla apologised to listeners as she teared-up talking about her son’s achievement, saying it is an “emotional” moment.

"I’m very, very proud. But I think people who have children doing anything – the people you love – you move mountains for them because you want them to achieve in whatever they are doing.

“You just want them to be as happy as they can be."

She said “the love of his life” is acting and is “just delighted” for her son as he continues his London run in A Streetcar Named Desire.

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