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Paul Mescal, Josh O’Connor
Via Instagram @connellschain / God’s Own Country

Paul Mescal and Josh O’Connor are set to star in a WWI-era gay romance

The Normal People and God’s Own Country stars will play the lead roles in an adaptation of Ben Shattuck’s short story The History of Sound

Paul Mescal has been keeping busy since his breakout role in the TV adaptation of Normal People last year. This year alone, he’s made his virtual Broadway debut and starred in several films, including the A24 thriller God’s Creatures and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut (and Venice Film Festival winner) The Lost Daughter.

Now, the actor is also set to play a lead role in the historical gay romance The History of Sound, across from Josh O’Connor (himself the star of 2017’s God’s Own Country and 2019’s Only You).

Based on Ben Shattuck’s Pushcart Prize-winning short story of the same name, and directed by Oliver Hermanus, the narrative revolves around two young men, Lionel (Mescal) and David (O’Connor), who “set out to record the lives, voices, and music of their countrymen” during World War One.

An official description of the film, shared by Variety, reads: “In this snatched, short-lived moment in their young lives, and while discovering the epic sweep of the US, both men are deeply changed.”

“I instantly fell in love with Ben Shattuck’s flawlessly beautiful short story and knew I had to be involved in its journey to the screen,” says Hermanus, who previously directed Moffie, a gay romance set against the backdrop of apartheid in South Africa. “Paul and Josh are two of the most promising actors of their generation who will share with us deeply soulful performances.”

“This is an unexpected love story that needs to be told,” the filmmaker adds. “It is a journey through the life of America, across the 20th century and the traditions of American folk music, all seen through the bond between two men immersed in the history of sound. This undeniably powerful story will certainly resonate with audiences the world over.”

The History of Sound is scheduled to start shooting in the US, and on location in the UK and Italy, in summer 2022. In the meantime, you can read Shattuck’s short story online, via literary journal The Common.