Alison Oliver’s “Conversations with Friends” about comparing “normal people”: “I think something is being done under pressure”


Francis and Connell were classmates! Alison Oliver from “Conversations with Friends” walked through the halls with Paul Mescal from “Normal People” when both actors attended the Lear Academy in Dublin, Ireland.

“Paul was three years older than me, I think, in college, and I always knew him, and he was always amazing, and it was only when I was like, I think maybe in my second or third year that I got to know him. a little better. “It’s funny to go through something like this with someone who also had a similar beginning. I think Lenny [Abrahamson], who directed the show, they’re all mostly from Dublin, and that’s where our college is located.”

With a difference of only a few years, Oliver and 26-year-old Mezcal will play the main roles in the Hulu dramas based on the bestsellers of the same name by Sally Rooney. While Mezcal co-starred with Daisy Edgar-Jones in the 2020 film Normal People, Oliver’s Conversations with Friends will debut on Sunday, May 15.

“We’re actually doing a course at Sally Rooney College. No, I’m kidding! They should probably install one!” she teased Us, noting that five more people from The Lir appear in her show, and about a dozen worked together with Mezcal in his. “It’s great to see all the students and staff involved in this work.”

Normal People catapulted the careers of Mezcal and Edgar-Jones, 23, with the Enemy actor winning a British Academy Television Award for his performance. Meanwhile, Edgar-Jones has landed roles in the films “Fresh” with Sebastian Stan, “Under the Banner of Heaven” by Andrew Garfield and in the long-awaited film “Where the Crayfish Sing”, based on the 2018 book by Delia Owens.

With the Rooney connection, comparisons between the two shows were inevitable. “I think so. I think there is pressure to do something really. There’s so much to do at work, and I’m very lucky to have a job in general, but this one in particular,” Oliver said. “Obviously, this is such a favorite book, as well as “Normal People”. But I think you can feel these things at the beginning. But as soon as you start rehearsing and start shooting, you just immerse yourself in our story, which is different from Normal People and other characters. I think once you sort of separate that and just kind of dive into the story you’re telling, it’s actually quite difficult to compare them as such.”

However, Abrahamson had a funny way of connecting them. “Lenny kind of calls them, he calls ‘Conversations with Friends, normal People’ a cousin,” Oliver said with a laugh.

Like the cast of “Normal People,” Oliver treated the series’ book like a Bible, never straying too far from the text.

“I was the same,” she said. “I completely swallowed this book and constantly referred to it throughout the shooting, because it seemed to me that the novel “Conversations with Friends” was written from Frances’ point of view. So it was kind of a document of everything going on in her head for this story. She’s such an observant person that I just wanted to stick it in my head. I used to think of it as Frances’s diary, which was very helpful. And that’s why I’ve always used it.”

She added: “I think it’s so wonderful to be part of Sally Rooney’s world and keep telling her brilliant stories.”

“Conversations with Friends” also starred Joe Alvin, Jemima Kirk and Sasha Lane. Its 12 half-hour episodes will be released on Hulu on Sunday, May 15.