If you looked at Joe Alwyn's Conversations With Friends, you'd see a group chat titled "The Tortured Man Club."
This is the name that Joe and Paul Mescal's mutual friend chose for their WhatsApp group after Joe was cast in the upcoming Sally Rooney series. Joe told GQ that the moniker is "a reflection on Connell and Nick," the actors' respective characters in Normal People and Conversations With Friends.
Indeed, the actors portray some truly complicated characters. In Conversations With Friends, Nick is a married photographer who becomes romantically involved with a young poet, while Paul's Connell struggles with communication, a problem that routinely jeopardizes his relationship with Daisy Edgar-Jones' Marianne.
But Joe said Paul isn't as tortured as his Normal People character, Connell, calling him a "lovely guy."
The two actors eventually met in real life while filming Conversations With Friends in Dublin, the gloomy backdrop for a majority of Sally's novels.
While Joe has yet to meet the author, he noted that she gave him some pointers on playing Nick. Over email, they discussed the photographer and she shared a playlist of the music Nick would listen to, including Kanye West, The National and Pavement: "I remember Sally saying about The National, Nick has that kind of downbeat, tired, but still vaguely charismatic quality to him as they do in their music," Joe shared.
Coincidentally, The National's Aaron Dessner produced Taylor Swift's album Folklore. Joe, Taylor's longtime boyfriend, collaborated with her during the coronavirus pandemic and is credited as a writer on album tracks "Exile," "Betty" and more. "It was fun to do it together, and I was proud of it," he shared. "It was nice getting such a positive reception."
But don't expect Joe to get into singing anytime soon. When asked if there's a version of "Exile" with his vocals on it, Joe groaned, "Jesus, there's probably a voice note somewhere that should be burned."
Conversations With Friends premieres May 15 on Hulu.