Normal People's casting director Louise Kiely has said it was "very magical" when Daisy Edgar-Jones read with co-star Paul Mescal for the first time.

In an interview with the Irish Independent, Emmy nominee Kiely takes journalist Amy O'Connor behind the scenes of the television phenomenon, and the casting of Mescal as Connell and Edgar-Jones as Marianne in the adaptation of the Sally Rooney bestseller.

Kiely recounts that Mescal was "an actor we would have known from the Lir [National Academy of Dramatic Art] and who had been in the Abbey". 

"Although he hadn't been in film or television yet… he was a very, very good actor and we knew that," she continues. "He was on the early list."

Cork-born Kiely says that although the Normal People team "knew very early that we had our Connell", finding a co-star to play Marianne was tougher.

The breakthrough came when Kiely saw a self-audition tape from Edgar-Jones and contacted Normal People director Lenny Abrahamson.

"There was just something really interesting about her"

She recounts: "I rang Lenny and said, 'I'm very excited about this lady'. We had a good group of self-tapes in that batch but with this one in particular, there was just something really interesting about her."

When Edgar-Jones arrived to read with Mescal, Kiely tells the Irish Independent that they had found "exactly the right fit".

"All of those tiny little nuances of feeling that the character needs to convey..." she adds. "The difficulty and the love and all of that fear and pride... those very core, natural human emotions. There's a lot in there. The two of them just had it and it felt absolutely right. It felt very much like Marianne and Connell as we read them."

Behind the scenes on Normal People

Kiely is nominated in the Outstanding Casting for a Limited Series category at this year's Emmys for her work on Normal People.

Hers is one of four Emmy nominations for the romantic drama: star Mescal has been shortlisted for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series; director Abrahamson for Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series; and author Rooney and screenwriter Alice Birch for Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series.

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The winners will be announced in the US on Sunday, September 20. 

Kiely is currently casting the TV adaptation of Rooney's first book, Conversations with Friends. Director Abrahamson is once again behind the lens for the BBC/Hulu show, with Dublin company Element Pictures returning to produce.

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