Based on Sally Rooney’s bestselling novel, “Normal People” became one of the biggest and most talked about television shows of 2020, mesmerizing audiences with the haunting love affair of Edgar-Jones and newcomer Paul Mescal as Marianne and Connell.
Launched during a global lockdown, the actor jokes in an interview they had a “captive audience” with a lot of spare time. “It caught fire maybe in a way that I don’t know if it would have had it not been for the circumstance,” she says.
But more importantly, “being so much about a human connection and a relationship between two people,” the show really struck a chord with audiences, “when we were all indoors not being able to see our friends or families or loved ones,” she says.
For having made a significant mark on 2020, Edgar-Jones has been named one of The Associated Press' Breakthrough Performers this year, joining a list that includes Finneas, Anya Taylor-Joy, Sarah Cooper and Yahya Abdul Mateen II.
Despite a background in Britain’s National Youth Theatre and U.K. television, “Normal People” was Edgar-Jones’ first big press campaign and the fact it was virtual made the experience “quite disarming and a bit strange.”
“That’s a very kind of intimate way to meet somebody when you’re in your own bedroom,” she says.
And then there was the stresses of working solo. “I was trying to do my own hair and makeup and trying to look half decent half the time.”
Co-star Mescal may not have been in the room during virtual press meetings but Edgar-Jones says they really supported each other.
“He’d answer one question then I’d answer the next…. otherwise, it’s ‘You go. No, you go’, which can take ages,” she explains.
Then after, she was left wondering if she had imagined it all. “You do just shut your laptop and it’s just like silence in the front room.”
Even getting recognized during a pandemic was confusing for the actor who left the house for daily walks.
“If that was because they just hadn’t seen another person in three weeks or if they were like, ‘Oh, I’ve been watching a show and she looks like the person from it,‘” she says.
Success was felt more immediately at home where her phone was constantly buzzing and she was surprised to see some high-profile fans reaching out to say they were watching.
This led to “a real pinch yourself kind of moment” when she discovered Kourtney Kardashian was one such fan. There was even a Kardashian cameo in the show.
“There’s a scene actually in the final episode where we’re playing the game where you have Post-it notes with names on them. And one of them is Kim Kardashian. So that was quite funny that she had seen it.”
Edgar-Jones says she is “immensely proud” of her co-star, Mescal, who has been praised for his captivating performance. “It’s really exciting to see what this show will do for both of us and come together in a few years and be like, ‘Well, we started together’” she says.
As for Edgar-Jones, there are already exciting things on the horizon. She has just completed shooting the second series of “War of the Worlds” in Cardiff, Wales, a modern-day reimagining of H.G. Wells’ story, and is “really excited to get back at it” when she begins filming “Where the Crawdads Sing," in January.
Taking on the pressure of yet another bestselling and beloved novel, she jokes: “Why do I keep doing this to myself?” But she admits she’s a huge fan of Delia Owens’ novel. “It’s such a beautiful book," she says. "I just feel so, so lucky.”
And when it comes to 2021 the actor hopes the 2020 experience will “propel us into the Roaring Twenties and make us really appreciate life and going out and having fun.”
For more on AP’s 2020 class of Breakthrough Entertainers, please visit: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-breakthrough-entertainers