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Fionn O'Shea Explains Inspiration For Normal People's Jamie

Fionn O'Shea Explains Inspiration For Normal People's Jamie
Balls Team
By Balls Team
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Fionn O'Shea took inspiration from acquaintances when determining how he would play Jamie in Normal People.

The character - who is controlling and obnoxious - is the villain of the hugely successful show, an adaptation of the book of the same name by Sally Rooney.

"When you make it, you're never really thinking about how people will react because all of us just went in as massive fans of the book," O'Shea told Jarlath Regan's An Irishman Abroad podcast.

"When we saw the reaction to it, all of us were blown away. I definitely wasn't expecting the vitriol that people have for Jamie.

"I'd always been a massive fan of Lenny [Abrahamson] and of Element [Pictures]. I'd have killed to work with them. When I heard that they were adapting the book - this is maybe six months before the auditions - I went out and I bought the book. I found that character and recorded voice notes on my phone and little improvisations of how I'd play it; I guess trying to will it into the universe.

"By the time the auditions came around six months later, I really had my heart set on that part. It was a world where it was, 'We're not seeing you for that part' because I guess I'm not the obvious choice on paper."


In real life, O'Shea is the opposite in character to that which he played in Normal People. The possibility that he could 'subvert expectations' of himself as an actor, by playing someone so unlikable, was attractive.


"In terms of tapping into it, I knew quite a lot of people like that growing up," he said.

"It wasn't even a case of 'Oh, I can think of one person'; I always had too many people to think about. I just knew people like that, not close friends, but I'd seen a lot of behaviour like that.

"I could understand how Jamie could become the person that he becomes from witnessing it. That was something that really interested me. I had seen multiple versions of Jamie in very different ways. I just knew what I would do and hopefully it'd be something interesting.


"You don't have to agree with what he's doing, I certainly don't, but you have to be able to understand it. He's not doing what he's doing for no reason. There's obviously motivation behind it. That's on the page from Sally's writing.

"I think that's why people have such a visceral reaction to Jamie. A lot of people, when they see Jamie, they can associate it with someone in their life who is a little bit toxic."

Quiz: Name Every Best Picture Oscar Winner Since 2000

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