At only 27, Mescal has built an impressive resume that includes a streaming television sensation, Normal People, which netted him an Emmy Award nomination for Best Actor in a Limited Series; breakout indie hits like The Lost Daughter and Aftersun, the latter of which nabbed him his for Academy Award nomination for Best Actor; and a lead role in Ridley Scott’s upcoming sequel to the 2000 blockbuster Gladiator, the aptly titled Gladiator 2.
Oh, and he was also in the best movie of last year, All of Us Strangers, and found time to star in a critically acclaimed revival of A Streetcar Named Desire on the London West End stage. He’s also a darling of the internet and has been the subject of several viral memes involving his sausages and short shorts. (Don’t ask.)
You’d think by now, the public would know everything there is to know about the young Irish star. Well, you’d be wrong; at least, I was wrong since I stumbled upon a bizarre factoid that sent me racing to YouTube to find the evidence to back it up. Did you know that Paul Mescal starred in The Phantom of the Opera and Les Misérables? Yes, that’s right, the poster boy for sad bois everywhere, the acclaimed actor known for his serious dramas, was in two musicals by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Claude-Michel Schönberg, respectively.
Before you go to IMDb and search furiously for these credits in Mescal’s filmography, relax; they aren’t there. Mescal didn’t star in the famous feature film versions of these classic musicals. (And honestly, would you want to see him warbling next to Emmy Rossum in the cheesy film version of Phantom or sing off-key with Hugh Jackman in Les Mis?) Like all of us, Mescal was once a fresh-faced student, and during his time in high school and college, he starred in school productions of famous plays and musicals to better hone his acting skills.
The first clip is from Les Misérables, which sees Mescal take on the role of Javert, the revenge-obsessed policeman out to capture Jean Valjean. The song he sings is Stars, which is Javert’s big number in the show, and gives Mescal a chance to really belt it out.
It’s hard to tell that it’s actually Mescal under all that makeup, but it is, and he does a decent job! He’s certainly better than Russell Crowe, who played the part in the movie, and played it badly.
Mescal had a more iconic role in The Phantom of the Opera, playing the titular character complete with a flowing black cape and a slightly askew ivory mask. The video below is the complete Maynooth Post Primary School production of Phantom, so if you want to get to the good stuff, just jump to the 35:30-minute mark to hear Mescal sing Music of the Night. The audio isn’t quite synched to the video, so bear that when watching.
Yes, the song and production are campy and cheesy, but that’s what makes Phantom so great, and it’s genuinely impressive to see Mescal give it everything he’s got with the same intensity he displayed in Aftersun. These past performances show that one of Hollywood’s most promising actors is at home singing show tunes just as much as he is winning hearts and shedding some tears in dramas about the loneliness of modern life. If I have one piece of advice for Paul, it’s this: Stay away from Cats. Please.