THE OUTNET’S Head of Content, Claudia Mahoney, caught up with actress and star of Normal People Daisy Edgar-Jones. In case you missed our in-depth conversation with the small-screen sensation, we made sure to save some of the best bits…
Claudia: How does it feel for you to be in this strange lockdown scenario and you’re on the cusp of this huge cultural phenomenon?
Daisy: It’s so strange. Because as much as you imagine it coming out, it feels very surreal to sort of think about the fact that so many people are actually able to watch it now. So, yeah, it’s very strange but I’m just so, so relieved that people seem to be loving it and even if they haven’t read the book, seem to understand the story and the messages. I’m just incredibly relieved that it’s being received well.
C: Did the character really resonate with you? You seem to inhabit her so fully.
D: I think that’s why Sally’s writing is so incredible really. Because you can see yourself in both characters in many different ways. I think probably I’m more related to Connell actually in certain aspects I guess with the social anxiety side of things… But the darker parts were more of a challenge and I think that’s why the character is such a gift, because you really have to explore a side of somebody which you don’t relate to. Which Is really fun as an actor.
C: How did you cope with the story, and acting those quite traumatic, very, very vulnerable, personal scenes and then how did you switch back out of that into your normal life?
D: I absolutely love working with Paul, we’d really gotten short-hand with our scenes together, so it was strange to then try finding out who Marianne was without him because she’s quite a different person, I think she blossoms when she’s with Connell. I felt just desperately sad because I really love her, and she was in a very vulnerable place, but we were so lucky that the crew that we were working with were just our best friends and they’re the best fun. So, there’s more kind of laughter and lightness off screen.
C: I think it must have been the most collaborative crew for you to feel confident to be so vulnerable.
D: Completely. Especially like for Paul and me, we’re quite new! I’ve never played a main part before and Paul’s never done any TV so, we were both very nervous to start. The crew were just wonderful, and Lenny and Hettie created such an environment that we could relax and feel confident to inhabit these roles and be our most vulnerable selves. Because it’s so important to the story that we’re able to show off those moments of characters without feeling too scared to.
C: You met Paul for the first time in your chemistry read. How does that work, what does a chemistry read involve?
D: Oh gosh, they’re terrifying! Cause you know if you’re at the chemistry read stage that you’re quite close, so you think ‘oh god!’ I was so nervous that I couldn’t eat or function, just terrified! But Paul and I had a sort of natural agreement on the way these two characters communicate. I think that’s really the crux of the whole story, this unique form of honest dialogue that these two can have with each other and it was definitely important to get that right.
C: How on earth can you get beyond this lockdown and find a way of marking the success of this really?
D: I know! That’s been one of the main topics of conversation in our group. That’s the main thing, when can we go and celebrate. Because it does seem a bit sort of strange that we can’t go out and kind of have a big release of energy.
C: And you’ve just been photographed for British Vogue, which must be a really exciting thing for any person but also again, sort of intimidating.
D: Yeah, I absolutely love clothes. I love clothes! So, it was very cool to kind of to do that. It was a very surreal experience, we got sort of beautifully styled and these amazing photographers and it was quite fun to do that with Paul.
C: I also just wanted to ask you about the costume for Marianne and how that so represents her journey and there’s such exquisite little details in Normal People and you can see her finding herself literally through her clothes.
D: That was one of my favorite parts through the whole thing, exploring Marianne’s costume. I remember there was, when I read the book, quite a few little details. It was really helpful to kind of plot the different stages of her growth and the costumes really helped us do that.
C: I really wanted to ask you, the end of the book, do you think they end up together?
D: Yeah, what I do quite like is the fact that we don’t know. I’d be absolutely devastated if it was tied up really beautifully at the end and then I would have to say goodbye to them. But, I really hope that Connell goes to New York and really leans into feeling worthy of the love she deserves. I really do think they’ll always be in each other’s lives; they can’t not be because I do believe they’re soulmates.