Stars of Hulu’s ‘Normal People’ talk pressure of adapting Sally Rooney’s beloved book

(NEW YORK) — Looking for a book to read and a show to binge while in quarantine? Normal People has you covered on both fronts.

The beloved 2018 Sally Rooney novel — even former President Barack Obama is a fan — has been adapted into a series on Hulu, which begins streaming today. 

Set in Ireland, it revolves around the relationship between Connell, a popular working-class student who cares too much what people think of him, and Marianne, a rich yet sensitive social outcast. What begins as a secret high school romance follows the two through their college years as they face a series of heartbreaking miscommunications and meaningful reconnections. 

Paul Mescal, who plays Connell, and Daisy Edgar-Jones, who plays Marianne, tell ABC Audio they felt pressure to get the story right.

“I think whenever a book is as popular as Normal People has been, it applies a natural pressure that you can’t really avoid,” Mescal says. “So you’ve got to get to the point where you kind of embrace it.”

As a fan of the book as well, Edgar-Jones says she understands “as a viewer there is a lot of expectation for it to be exactly how you pictured it.”

“I find Marianne to be quite a complex person,” she adds. “So trying to make sure I understood every level of her and [portray] her accurately, definitely felt pressure to do that for sure.” 

They can both rest easy — the 12-episode Normal People series, thanks to Mescal and Edgar-Jones’ raw and intimate portrayal, will likely satisfy the book’s fans, and beyond.

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