Saoirse Ronan and Paul Mescal, the era's buzziest young Irish actors, have been confirmed as stars of a healthily budgeted science fiction film for Amazon Studios. Garth Davis's Foe, based on a novel by Iain Reid, follows a married couple confronted by a mysterious stranger in a dystopian future.
"I think of it a philosophical suspense story. I don't think of it as a thriller," Reid, who also wrote the source novel for the recent Jessie Buckley film I'm Thinking of Ending Things, said of his novel. The story has much to do with the continuing environmental damage to the planet.
Mescal and Ronan were born just two years apart – he is 25, she is 27 – but the female actor is already a veteran of stage and screen. Since her Oscar-nominated appearance in Atonement (2007), she has gone on to accrue three further nods at the Academy Awards. She has appeared in a Broadway production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible and is currently starring as Lady Macbeth at the Almeida Theatre in London.
Mescal shot to prominence with his appearance as one half of an anguished young couple in the TV production of Sally Rooney's Normal People that became a lockdown sensation last year. He went on to front a Rolling Stones video and will soon be seen opposite Olivia Colman and Jessie Buckley in Maggie Gyllenhaal's Oscar friendly drama The Lost Daughter.
The phrase “together at last” is perhaps a little premature, but it will nonetheless be passing through a few heads as news of Mescal and Ronan’s casting percolates.
“What I love about Saoirse is, you see her on screen and she is just so unfiltered and alive,” Davis, the Australian director of Lion, said. “She represents to me all the things we need to protect in the world. Putting her in the belly of this suspenseful and uneasy story is the whole point.”
The deal has been whispered about for some time. In the wake of the Cannes Virtual Market last July, Variety reported “Amazon Studios Circling Saoirse Ronan, Paul Mescal Sci-Fi Thriller Foe”.
At that stage, LaKeith Stanfield, Oscar-nominated star of Judas and the Black Messiah, was in line for the role of the stranger who tells them that Mescal’s character has been selected to journey to a remote space station. That role will now be played by rising British star Aaron Pierre.