Normal People star, Paul Mescal, remains hopeful that he will one day be able to return to GAA club duty, however, the former Kildare minor captain admits it is unlikely given the trajectory of his career thus far.
The Maynooth actor made headlines around the nation following the premiere of the much-discussed Irish-based TV drama which aired on BBC and RTE this week.
While his acting career looks to be taking off, plenty of GAA fans will remember Mescal from his days playing with Kildare where he captained the Lilywhites at minor level before appearing in back-to-back Leinster U21 finals in 2015 and 2016.
In a wide-ranging interview with GQ, the actor gave the iconic British magazine an insight into how he tried to combine his two loves growing up.
“I played Gaelic football since I was tiny, and that was kind of the way that I wanted to go. And then when I was 16, we did a school musical. We did Phantom of the Opera. I fell in love with it. I’ve never gotten a buzz or a high like that ever in my life. I’d been chasing that to some degree. But I never saw it as a valid career choice. When it came to applying for colleges, I was putting down law and arts and things that would support playing Gaelic football.”
— Electric Ireland (@ElectricIreland) July 28, 2014
“The closer it got to being a reality, the more I rejected it. So I quickly applied for drama schools, but there was only one that I wasn’t late for in Dublin. I applied and got it. I still played football in first and second year of college, which wasn’t allowed, but I kind of kept it on the down low. Then I got my jaw broken two days before starting my final year.”
Although it is unlikely that Mescal will be able to line out for his club Maynooth any time soon, the actor did speak of how much he misses the game and longs to return to his club one day.
“Absolutely. It’s something that has been a massively formative part of my life and something that has taught me lots about acting in terms of self-discipline and being ready and being able to capitalize on opportunities. In a dream world, I’d love to go back and play with my team. But as long as work is kind of busy, I don’t think I can do the two at the moment.”
— Eamonn McGurk (@McGurkEamonn) April 26, 2020
The former Lilywhite was also asked an interesting question around whether he found it difficult going between the world of sport and acting, two crafts that don’t normally go hand in hand.
Mescal admitted that the two differ culturally but that ultimately his background in sport and the values it taught him has lent itself well to his acting career.
“No, I think because culturally they’re two very different institutions and they have two very different sets of values. But personally I find the teams that I’ve played with feeling very similar to crews and casts. I’m a big believer in [the idea that] if you’re a team player, you can get so much more out of a project, so much more out of playing sports.”
“But culturally they’re very different. One, for example, is particularly male-dominated and the other isn’t, and that comes with its own kind of intricacies. You grow up kind of spending your evenings after school being surrounded by 30 or 40 guys your age and that’s really fun. I really liked the camaraderie that comes with that. And then to go into a thing where you’re having bigger, broader discussions about gender politics and life. They’re not particularly conversations that you would have in a dressing room after a match.”