Image Source: Getty / Amy Sussman
Paul Mescal is setting a firm boundary between his personal and professional life. In the three years since he first found international fame as Connell in the BBC adaptation of Sally Rooney’s “Normal People,” Mescal has become an internet heartthrob. According to Mescal, the breakout role, which earned him an Emmy nomination, also gave fans a parasocial entitlement when it comes to his personal relationships.
“It’s nobody else’s business and should never be commented on because it’s indecent.”
Though a certain level of visibility is expected when it comes to being in the public eye, Mescal said some fans have pushed too far. “If I’m going to make TV shows like ‘Normal People,’ there’s going to be an appetite from the world,” he said in Harper’s Bazaar’s 2023 Icons Issue. “80 percent of that is palatable. And then 20 percent of it is devastating.”
In July 2020, Mescal was spotted with Phoebe Bridgers at a cafe in Ireland. The sighting quickly sparked dating rumors, further fueled by Mescal’s appearance in Bridgers’s “Savior Complex” music video a few months later. In November 2021, the couple made their first official red carpet appearance together at the LACMA Art + Film Gala. The couple were rumored to be engaged until theories began to circulate that they had split in December 2022. Though neither Bridgers nor Mescal publicly addressed the breakup rumors, the widespread coverage of their relationship and resulting fan suppositions left Mescal frustrated at best.
“The stuff that hurts is the personal stuff,” he said. “It’s nobody else’s business and should never be commented on because it’s indecent. And it’s unkind. Honest answer, it makes me angry . . . It’s the entitlement to the information that people expect that just drives me f*cking mad.” Possibly as a result of the overwhelming fan attention, Mescal has largely stayed off social media; his last Twitter post was in 2020.
In October, the actor will appear alongside Saoirse Ronan in Garth Davis’s adaptation of “Foe” by Iain Reid. The apocalyptic thriller tells the story of a married couple whose life is turned upside down when they must cope with a haunting new reality. Though Mescal continues to keep his personal relationships under wraps, he did give some insight into the way his private love life has impacted his recent work. “The feeling of being in a relationship and being in love, to me, sometimes can feel quite like a horse with blinders on. That’s such a wonderful feeling,” Mescal said. “The work in this film was finding out what it’s like to be in a tired relationship. That’s not a sensation I’m familiar with.”