The 2023 Oscar nominations included a pretty major surprise: Paul Mescal is a best actor nominee! The Irish actor got the nod for his incredible work in "Aftersun," released by A24 in 2022. He's the only nomination for the film, in which Mescal stars as a former teen dad who's struggling to connect with his preteen daughter and himself, told through the eyes of that daughter (played by Frankie Corio as a child and Celia Rowlson-Hall). It's based on the experiences of the film's writer and director Charlotte Wells, who made her directorial debut with the film.
Before the nominations were released, Mescal had already received quite a few accolades for his work in the film. He's nominated for best lead performance at the upcoming Independent Spirit Awards and the British Academy Film Awards.
During a conversation with Joe Alwyn as part of Variety's "Actors on Actors" series, Mescal credited Corio for helping him dig into the character on set. "I learned a huge amount from Frankie, because Frankie had never done it before and just loved acting," he said about his costar, who turned 11 while they were filming. "I feel like that's a good instinct to have as an actor — to try and really get to the center of when you watch somebody act with abandon."
At 26, Mescal is among the youngest best actor nominees, since the category tends to skew older than others. If he won, he would the youngest winner ever. His fellow nominee, Austin Butler, is 31.
"Aftersun" also received a nomination for best first feature at the Independent Spirit Awards, plus a nomination for best breakthrough performance for Corio and nods for cinematography and directing. Wells is also up for the Directors Guild of America Award for outstanding directing for a first-time feature film, and she's won awards from the Gotham Awards, the New York Film Critics Circle, and the British Independent Film Awards. The movie finished first in the Sight and Sound 2022 best films of the year list.
Mescal was launched into the spotlight after he starred in 2020's Hulu series "Normal People" alongside Daisy Edgar-Jones. His very first feature film was 2021's "The Lost Daughter." In 2022 he also appeared in A24's "God's Creatures." Earlier this month, reports circulated that Mescal is signing on for a "Gladiator" sequel.