Lenny Abrahamson Interview: ‘Normal People’ director
“One of the things that marks us out from other shows is a sense that you’re encountering real people in a grounded world and that the presentation is (at least to an extent) low-key, so it does feel like they’re real people,” Lenny Abrahamson tells Gold Derby in an exclusive interview about directing the miniseries “Normal People” in Ireland for Hulu (watch the video above). Abrahamson says about fostering romantic chemistry on screen, in this case between leads Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal, “If it’s really present, then you can take a different stance as a filmmaker and you can really watch what’s happening and encourage the actors to sit into how they feel and sit into the characters that they’ve created and trust that you’ll be able to observe that if you’re careful enough as a filmmaker.”
Abrahamson received a Best Director nomination at the Oscars for “Room” four years ago. He admits about the surprise, “I didn’t think I would get nominated and in fact, I couldn’t help but occasionally check Gold Derby and see; what are the rankings? I hovered around eight or nine in people’s predictions.” Abrahamson now contends for Emmy nominations with “Normal People” in two categories: Best Limited Series as its executive producer and Best Movie/Limited Directing.
His submission to represent him for consideration in the latter is the “joyful, complex and satisfying” fifth episode, in which “the friendship develops and eventually blossoms back into a relationship.” Abrahamson explains the selection, “Five covers an awful lot of ground and it also contains my favorite scene in the show where Paul as Connell apologizes to Marianne for what he did in school and for how he treated her. It’s the closest to being tonally the way I felt the show should be when I read the book.” He continues about that focal point, “It’s very still; it’s very low-key in a way, but it’s incredibly intense and it’s very natural and the choices that we made cinematographically in terms of how we shot it, choices even on the day in what we did to the dialogue and how we adjusted it to fit what was happening in the room — all of those things came together in a way that doesn’t always happen.”