Nicholas Hoult and Paul Mescal in Hulu’s ‘The Great’, ‘Normal People’ – Variety

Paul Mescal is one of the stars of the television season as Connell, the young man in love whose romance with a classmate follows an uneven path in “Normal People.” In “The Great”, Nicholas Hoult is also caught up in a bad romance, tormenting his wife, Empress Catherine II of Russia, in her role as Emperor Peter III. They talked to each other via video chat to VarietyActors in the theme Actors.

Paul Mescal: Nick, you are a legend. We met in Pasadena. You remember? You definitely don’t.

Nicholas Hoult: On the fronts?

Mescal: No, the TCAs. You were doing press for “The Great” with Hulu, and I remember we were in the same room. I remember getting in the elevator and thinking, “F – k, that’s Nick Hoult.” And here we are, chatting about acting.

I finished “The Great” over the weekend. You seem to be a really genuine and personable human being, but Peter, one might argue, is not. I’m curious about how you get close to playing an antagonistic character like that.

Hoult: From an external point of view, I can obviously see that he is the antagonist of the story and that he does many terrible things. But then I try not to, in my mind, see it as that too much. I think with Tony McNamara’s writing, the brilliance is that this character gives you, but gradually he takes off some layers where you start to go, “OK, there are reasons for the way he is.” Peter is a boy. He is just living in this bubble. I think the only redeemable thing, other than his love of food, is his kind of stream of consciousness.

Mescal: I guess it’s a lot of fun to play.

Lazy picture loaded

Aiste Stancikaite for Variety

Hoult: It is really fun. I found the time between “Action” and “Cut”, making the scene is a lot of fun because of the character. Tony gives you the perfect frame and dialogue to do it, but there’s nothing you can’t do that’s wrong. When you are playing emotions within a scene, are you completely within a character? You know there are people who, use their own memories, is what I am trying to say, and use them to project emotions. Do you do that or not?

Mescal: I’m not saying I never will, but it wouldn’t be something that interested me. I think you’re doing the character a disservice if you’re trying to put your stuff on it.

Hoult: I am in the same boat. I try not to use my own memories, because I feel that it makes my memories cheaper. Once you got this part, did you go back and read the book again? Was he very influential in terms of making the character?

Mescal: Normally I would read the scenes in the book again the next morning we would shoot something, because the trick with “Normal People” was that the book has all these massive interior monologues. I was trying to put those internal monologues, root them in the characters, so that when you’re playing the scenes, you’re praying to God to leak.

Hoult: I haven’t figured out how I get into the process of getting into characters, so I always want to learn from people. Would you put the notes in your script?

Mescal: I’m not the best worker, so I would simply reread and reread the book for infiltration. I wrote page references, but, I don’t know if it’s similar for you, when you start a job, you have all these great intentions. Suddenly, when you are six, seven, eight weeks old and exhaustion begins to hit, your best intentions can be absorbed by adrenaline and fatigue. And I think that is also useful.

Hoult: There are times when you make a scene and say, “That wasn’t working, terrible.” Then you end up watching it and you say, “Oh it really works, it’s a great scene.” Or the opposite happens. Particularly in terms of working with Daisy [Edgar-Jones]Could you two occasionally say, “I feel like we have it”? I know working with Elle [Fanning]There would be times when we feel that we both entered into rhythm and we feel that this is the idea.

Mescal: The longer Daisy and I were in the session, there was a real shorthand. The discussions would get less and less, and we would only have a strange understanding that this is the way the scene played out, without talking too much. Conversations about the character can sometimes dilute the character, if you explain it too much. I think what Daisy has in absolute abundance is not just talent, but she has an incredible instinct for the character and is an incredibly generous actress. We got into rhythm with that.

Hoult: Connell’s chain, is it something you wear in real life?

Mescal: No, the chain is really in the book. At first, when the chain had this cult following, you feel like you lose a slight ownership of it. Then it becomes your thing. I recently thought, “OK, what can I do to use this in some way that is beneficial?” I am auctioning off one of the chains I use in real life that is similar to Connell’s for a charity dealing with suicide and mental health, topics that are quite present on the show. It is crazy. It was raised like 53,000 euros in a week, and suddenly it is when I feel that is the really positive thing about having people who are interested in you, your work and what you have to say. There may be something really good that comes out of it, and if it is taken advantage of in the wrong way, the real negativity. But yes, that is the job.