Paul Mescal's Best Movie and TV Roles, From "Aftersun" to "Foe"

Irish heartthrob and "Normal People" star Paul Mescal has been one to watch in recent years. Heralded as an up-and-coming talent with a breakthrough Hulu series under his belt, he was always going places. And 2023 seems to be the year he's reached the top of the mountain after being announced as a surprise nominee for best actor at the 2023 Oscars for his moving turn as single dad Calum in Charlotte Wells's father-daughter drama "Aftersun." Although he lost out to Brendan Fraser, the accolade has cemented his position as an A-list star.

Mescal's acting career started mostly on stage, starring in the likes of "The Great Gatsby," "A Midsummer Night's Dream," and the world premiere of "Asking For It." However, it was his 2020 television debut in "Normal People" that catapulted him into the public eye overnight. Playing Connell in the BBC adaptation of Sally Rooney's novel caught the attention of legions of fans for his vulnerability and emotional range as an actor, not to mention his undeniable sex appeal.

Mescal then returned to his stage roots with a critically acclaimed performance in "A Streetcar Named Desire" in London's West End, which bagged him a coveted Olivier Award. In the fall of 2023, he starred in "Foe," out Oct. 6, and will also star alongside Andrew Scott in "All of Us Strangers," which will premiere in December. 2024 also promises to be jam-packed for the star, who is set to star in the highly anticipated "Gladiator" sequel that year.

There's no better time to explore Mescal's onscreen work. Read ahead for a list of all the movies and TV shows you can watch to see Mescal show off his tremendous talent.

"Gladiator 2" (2024)
Getty | Karwai Tang

"Gladiator 2" (2024)

Mescal was filming "Gladiator 2," the sequel to 2000's "Gladiator," when the actors' strike began, halting production. Mescal plays Lucius, the nephew of Joaquin Phoenix's Commodus in the first film. The cast includes Denzel Washington, "Stranger Things" star Joseph Quinn, and Pedro Pascal. The movie is currently set to be released in November 2024.

"All of Us Strangers" (2023)
Searchlight Pictures

"All of Us Strangers" (2023)

"All of Us Strangers," set to be released this December, sees Mescal playing the neighbor of a man played by Andrew Scott. As the pair explore a relationship, Scott's character is visited by the ghosts of his parents.

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"Foe" (2023)

Mescal teams up with Saoirse Ronan in the movie "Foe," which premiered in October 2023. In the sci-fi thriller, the pair of Oscar nominees play a husband and wife whose lives are shaken when he must go into space. But he's replaced on Earth by a robot, who'll keep her company.

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"Carmen" (2023)

Mescal stars alongside Melissa Barrera in the remake of Georges Bizet's famous opera "Carmen." Barrera plays Carmen, while Mescal is cast as her love interest, Aidan.

The film, released this April, sees the story move from Spain to Mexico, following Carmen, who has been forced to flee her home after the murder of her mum. As she survives an illegal border crossing into the USA, she is forced to flee with border patrol guard, Aidan, and the two subsequently fall in love while heading to LA. Mescal flexes his musical skills in the movie, which is directed by Benjamin Millepied, in modern-day remake of the classic opera.

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"Aftersun" (2022)

The film that gained Mescal his first Oscar nomination, "Aftersun" is a tender and moving film about fathers, daughters, and memory.

The Scottish film, written and directed by Charlotte Wells in her debut, follows father-daughter duo Calum (Mescal) and Sophie (newcomer Frankie Corio) as they holiday in Turkey. It's a film where a lot is left unsaid, but through a framing device that shows us an adult Sophie, we can see that the film functions as her attempting to review this childhood holiday to understand the dad she has since lost.

Since its debut at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, "Aftersun" has received numerous accolades and widespread critical acclaim, with Empire magazine calling it a "triumph of new British filmmaking."

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"God's Creatures" (2022)

A dark and serious role for Mescal, the actor starred in A24's Irish psychological drama "God's Creatures" alongside Emily Watson and Aisling Franciosi.

Mescal stars as Brian, a mysterious oyster fisherman who returns to his Irish hometown following a stint in Australia about which he is unusually vague. While home, he gets caught up in shady business dealings and later is accused of sexual assault, which his mother (Watson) lies to cover up.

The film, directed by Saela Davis and Anna Rose Holmer, debuted at the Cannes Film Festival in 2022 and earned Mescal a British Independent Film Award nomination for supporting actor. It continues Mescal's streak of celebrated film performances, as well as a run of starring in women-directed projects.

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"The Lost Daughter" (2021)

Mescal's debut role in a feature film found him surrounded by household names. Directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal and starring the likes of Olivia Colman and Dakota Johnson, the film has Mescal easily slipping into the leagues of these more experienced actors.

Released in 2021, "The Lost Daughter" follows Leda (Colman), a university professor on holiday in Greece, and her relationship with Nina (Johnson), a young mother whom she meets on the beach. Mescal stars as Will, a beach-bar worker whom Leda forms a friendship with and who is also having a secret affair with Nina.

Mescal's role isn't huge, but he demonstrates an easy charisma and charm that contrast the coldness of Colman's lead. The film received favorable reviews and critical success, including three Oscar nominations.

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"The Deceived" (2020)

Mescal starred in the Channel 5 thriller "The Deceived" in 2020. Written by "Derry Girls" creator Lisa McGee and her husband, Tobias Beer, the show follows Cambridge undergrad Ophelia (Emily Reid), who embarks on an affair with her married professor Michael Callaghan (Emmett J. Scanlan). Following the sudden death of his wife in a house fire, Callaghan has to return to his home in Donegal in rural Ireland, and Ophelia finds herself following him.

Mescal stars in a supporting role as a local fireman in Donegal, who finds the body of Callaghan's wife. While he isn't the lead, The Independent's review of the show emphasized him as a highlight and, in particular, his "sleepy-eyed charm."

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"Drifting" (2020)

Mescal starred in the 2020 Irish short film "Drifting," directed and written by Robert Higgins and Patrick McGivney.

The synopsis reads: "Cian (Mescal) and Pat (Dafhyd Flynn) have been joined at the hip since they were kids and have the run of their small town in the Midlands. Cian is content to coast through a life of booze and casual hook-ups while Pat has to grow weary of his surroundings."

The film played at Galway Film Fleadh as part of the Galway Arts Festival in the early 2020, with a number of screenings across the country in the months that followed.

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"Normal People" (2020)

Considered his breakout role, Mescal starred in "Normal People," which aired in 2020. The show, based on the bestselling novel by Sally Rooney, centers on Connell (Mescal), a shy but popular young working-class man, and wealthy but troubled social outcast Marianne (Daisy Edgar-Jones), exploring their intimacy, love, friendship, and miscommunication over the course of five years. It's sexy, it's tender, it's personal, and it's heartbreaking.

For his role, Mescal received an abundance of critical acclaim, with reviewers saying the actor is "astonishingly good at making clear what he's thinking" and commenting on his "understated deftness that verges on psychic projection." In particular, the show's depiction of mental health struggles in young men was celebrated because of Mescal's performance.

He won the BAFTA TV Award for best actor for the role, as well as nominations at the Emmys and Critics' Choice Awards.

Watch "Normal People" on Hulu now.