For Paul Mescal, ‘Normal People’s’ steamy sex scenes were ‘a total baptism by fire’

Emmy nominee Paul Mescal in Hulu's "Normal People."

In the season finale of The Times’ TV podcast, “Can’t Stop Watching,” host and staff writer Yvonne Villarreal asks “Normal People” star and Emmy nominee Paul Mescal about filming the series’ steamy, carefully choreographed sex scenes:

This is a total baptism by fire. Essentially, the first Friday of the first week of me ever being on set was a full day of sex scenes. The night before, I don’t think I got much sleep and I thought I was gonna die. But then, ultimately, you arrive to set and there’s just a very clear structure put in place. And I think the first day probably took a little bit more time because we were figuring out how the process worked and where we all fit in in the bigger picture of it all. Once you do it, it’s not as bad as you think in your head. And it’s a hugely important part of the show. It’s a moment in which you develop a huge amount of trust with your scene partner, and then, after that, you develop a kind of shorthand. You trust each other and you trust the team around you that nothing is going to be exploited, and you’re making these scenes with a common goal that you want it to be representative of a healthy, exciting, young sexual relationship.

Listen to the full episode to hear about how Mescal celebrated his Emmy nomination, the preparations he made to depict his character’s struggles with depression and anxiety, and the moments on set that felt “like Christmas.” And be sure to listen to our conversations with Mescal’s fellow nominees, including “black-ish” star Tracee Ellis Ross.