Sally Rooney’s acclaimed coming-of-age novel Normal People has been adapted by the BBC and Hulu, as we follow two Irish teenagers and classmates (Marianne and Connell) who come from either sides of the social divide, and who over roughly four years must navigate the highs and lows of young love and growing up.
Read on for everything you need to know about the cast and characters of the 12-part BBC Three series.
Daisy Edgar-Jones plays Marianne Sheridan
Who is Marianne? An intelligent and unpopular teenager living in County Sligo, Ireland. She lives in “the big house” and comes from an affluent family. Her mother employs Lorraine, mother to Marianne’s popular classmate Connell, to be their cleaner.
Marianne begins a secret sexual relationship with Connell, but it’s broken off by the end of the school year. They next meet at Trinity College, Dublin, where Marianne has flourished.
Speaking with RadioTimes.com, actress Daisy Edgar-Jones said that she was “proud” of the way the show portrays sex.
“I think it’s really important to show it, because you know it’s [sex] a massive part to being a human being and everyone does it,” she said. “I think it’s really nice to see two people who really love each other, care about each other and adapt to each other’s kind of growth of each other’s personal relationship with sex, which I think is really interesting to explore as well.”
Where have I seen Daisy Edgar-Jones before? Since the age of 17 she’s played the role of Olivia Marsden in Cold Feet. She’s also starred in TV series War of the Worlds, as Emily Gresham, and in BBC period drama Gentleman Jack, as Delia Rawson.
Paul Mescal plays Connell Waldron
Who is Connell? A popular, intelligent but quiet teenager who begins secretly sleeping with Marianne, an intimidating girl in his class. She encourages him to apply to study English at Trinity College, Dublin, where she will also studying next year.
However, when he arrives at university he struggles to make friends, and finds that some students look down on him due to his poorer background.
Speaking to RadioTimes.com, Paul Mescal said that his character and Marianne “go from a kind of cerebral communication to a kind of physical communication” at the beginning of the show.
Asked about the amount of male nudity in the series, he said, “Something that I’m proud of is that I [was] very keen on making sure that the male nudity was more present if not at least equal [to the amount of female nudity].”
Where have I seen Paul Mescal before? This is Mescal’s first major on-screen role.
Sarah Greene plays Lorraine
Who is Lorraine? Connell’s plain-speaking mother, who is also a cleaner for Marianne’s mother.
Where have I seen Sarah Greene before? You’ll probably recognise Olivier and Tony nominee Greene for her role as detective Cassie Maddox in last year’s BBC thriller series Dublin Murders, and for roles in shows like Penny Dreadful, Ransom, and Rebellion.
Frank Blake plays Alan
Who is Alan? Marianne’s brother, he is often cruel and physically aggressive towards her.
Where have I seen Frank Blake before? Eagle-eyed Game of Thrones fans may spot Blake as a sentry in the episode ‘The Bells’. He also played Constable Pip Bircher in The Frankenstein Chronicles, and will play Harry in the upcoming period drama Bridgerton.
Aislin McGuckin plays Denise
Who is Denise? Marianne’s troubled mother; her husband (Marianne’s father) was physically abusive.
Where have I seen Aislin McGuckin before? Outlander fans may recognise McGuckin as Letitia MacKenzie. She’s also played Agnes Meermans in The Miniaturist, and starred in the likes of The White Countess and David Copperfield.
Leah McNamara plays Rachel
Who is Rachel? One of the most popular girls at the secondary school that both Marianne and Connell attend. She has a crush on Connell, and is annoyed whenever he pays attention to Marianne.
Where have I seen Leah McNamara before? The Irish actress played Rosalind Devlin in Dublin Murders, and starred in the TV series Vikings (as Aud).
Sebastian De Souza plays Gareth
Who is Gareth? Marianne’s first boyfriend at university.
Where have I seen Sebastian De Souza before? Following his breakout role as Matty Levan in Skins, he’s since starred in Kids in Love, Ophelia, and Medici.
Fionn O’Shea plays Jamie
Who is Jamie? A student at Trinity College, Dublin, and in the same group of friends as Marianne.
Where have I seen Finn O’Shea before? O’Shea has starred in the likes of The Aftermath (co-starring Keira Knightley), Innocent, Hang Ups, and The Letter for the King.
Aoife Hinds plays Helen
Who is Helen? A young woman whom Connell dates in the second half of Sally Rooney’s novel.
The series will land as a box set on BBC Three on Sunday 26th April. The 12-part drama will also begin airing on BBC One the day afterwards, on Monday 27th April at 9pm, kicking off with two 30-minute episodes and airing weekly afterwards.
Viewers in the US will be able to watch the series from 29th April on Hulu.
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