“It was more important that the right actor embody Connell, rather than lots of days on set and their experience,” explains Louise Kiely about casting Paul Mescal in “Normal People.” Mescal is now nominated at the Emmys for Best Movie/Limited Actor for his television debut; Kiely is also celebrating her first nomination, in the Best Movie/Limited Casting category. The casting director laughs as she begins to explain what they were looking for in the role of Connell Waldron, “You could say ‘football skills’ and that stuff that’s at the end of your CV, but being completely honest, it was much more about believability in the early years and talent in order to follow their arc and stick with them and believe them throughout.”
“It was much more to do with the desires and the wants and the needs of the two characters and the difficulties within those characters,” continues Kiely, referencing Mescal’s co-lead Daisy Edgar-Jones, who played Marianne Sheridan. She adds, “It’s hard to speak about one and not the other, but what they were able to inhabit and project therefore was all of those detailed nuances — and also, the arc!” Kiely notes that she sought actors who could portray the emotional and physical growth over the years that are depicted on screen and were originally described in the novel of the same name. The Hulu miniseries was co-adapted by author Sally Rooney, but the casting process began in advance of scripts being completed. Kiely explains, “They were being written, but we worked off the book at the early stages.”
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