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Hooked on Normal People? We are, too, especially after reading the book version by Irish writer Sally Rooney. The series (available to stream on Hulu) follows Marianne and Connell, two teenagers coming of age in a small town in Ireland and exploring their sexual identities at the same time. Maybe it’s the scenic Irish backdrop—or Marianne and Connell’s will-they-won’t-they chemistry—that keeps us coming back. It also might be the casting.

As Connell, Paul Mescal is equal parts handsome and earnest and sweet. Opposite Marianne—played by Daisy Edgar-Jones—he holds his own as a popular, but also troubled high school student who can’t resist her charms. But who is Mescal and where did he come from? Here, everything you need to know about the breakout star.

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1. He Studied Drama at Trinity College in Dublin

Just like his Normal People alter ego Connell, Mescal attended Trinity College. The only difference? In Mescal’s case, his focus was drama. In fact, he studied at The Lir Academy, which is Trinity’s in-house drama school. (It’s also associated with London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts.) During his time there, he starred in productions ranging from Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare to Children of the Sun by Maxim Gorky, according to his Lir Academy student profile. He’s also trained in stage combat, not to mention a variety of accents including New York, General American and Southern United States.

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2. He Is Also Super Athletic

Yep, in addition to acting, Mescal was actually a pretty promising Gaelic football player, competing at the under-21 level for his country team, Kildare G.A.A. But when he suffered a broken jaw during a match at Trinity, he gave it up, explaining to Vogue that that was the moment when he realized acting and sports “don’t coexist, unfortunately.”

3. Did We Mention He Can Sing?

Take a quick peek at his Instagram page and you’ll discover Mescal’s immense range of talents—singing and piano playing included. (His cover of Lady Gaga’s A Star Is Born tune gives us chills.)

paul mescal and daisy edgar jones
Erik Voake/Getty Images

4. Prior to ‘Normal People,’ Most of His Work Was on Stage

Post-college and pre-Normal People, Mescal had quite a reputation as a darling of the Ireland stage. He played Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby at the Gate Theatre in Dublin and Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Kilkenny Arts Festival, roles that garnered him rave reviews.

5. You Might *Also* Remember Him from a TV Commercial About Sausage

#TBT to that time Mescal appeared in an advertisement for Denny sausage. Hey, we all gotta start somewhere, right?

6. He’s Also Single

He recently revealed on the I’m Grand Mam podcast that he’s sworn off dating apps—but he’d definitely like to be married if quarantine ever happens again. “I think we’re at the point where I want to get married and settle down,” he said. “But you know that kind of hysterical thing where if lockdown ever happens again, I’m making sure that I’m married. But yeah, I’m looking forward to dating!”

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