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I almost turned my back on the stage, says star of runaway hit 'Normal People'

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Eye-opener: Connell (Paul Mescal) filming ‘Normal People’ in Trinity College.
Photo: Enda Bowe

Eye-opener: Connell (Paul Mescal) filming ‘Normal People’ in Trinity College. Photo: Enda Bowe

Eye-opener: Connell (Paul Mescal) filming ‘Normal People’ in Trinity College. Photo: Enda Bowe

Paul Mescal, the star of television hit 'Normal People', has revealed he struggled with acting in college and almost walked away from a career in showbusiness.

While Paul (24) is currently flying high on the back of the show's runaway success, he says there was a point at which he almost threw in the towel during his first year in college.

He struggled to get into the acting 'head-space' and at one low point thought about walking away from drama.

"There was a period in first year in drama school and I felt like I just wasn't getting it," he said.

"In sport, you can train lots and generally you are going to get it. In acting, though, you have to change the way you think about things.

"It doesn't matter how well you prepare, you might be s**t in that part. I haven't read the plays everyone else read.

"I didn't have the background in theatre, the background or the knowledge and confidence in myself to know I would succeed.

"Then my ego got in the way. I don't like the idea of quitting things and I am glad for that trait because I did come that close to quitting. Thankfully, I didn't."

The TV show has shattered records by racking up 16 million BBC iPlayer requests in its first week alone.

Paul admits he is still finding it strange that fans of the show have such a keen interest in his love life.

But he says he prefers to stay silent about it out of fear he will overshare on his formative sexual experiences.

"I suppose you kind of [expect those questions about your love life], it would be naive to say that it is surprising," he says.

"I have watched actors my whole life so I know that when you do a project that brings you into the public domain, people are, for some reason, interested in that. Not that it is dull, it is an odd thing to adjust to."

Speaking to comedian Jarlath Regan's 'An Irishman Abroad' podcast, he said: "It is something that I have to be careful with because I am such a trusting person.

"If you for example wanted to take the p**s and wanted to get really private nuggets out of me, I probably would because I am not adept at dodging them.

"I have this weird thing where it is better to be sincere and honest. If it continues it [is]something that will take some adjusting to. It is a matter of adjusting."

Paul has also confessed that for the first two years of his time at the Lir Academy drama school in Dublin, there wasn't much worth talking about when it came to having fun.

He says that because of his commute from his hometown of Maynooth and GAA pressure, he stayed away from any real social scene around the drama school. However, he says that in his third year there, he walked away from sport and started to party hard.

"Drama school training is a very intense all-encompassing thing," he said. "Then in third year I went bananas.

"Only joking, I drank a lot more and I went to more parties and third year was the closest I got to having a college experience."

Irish Independent