Writer-director Andrew Haigh has commended Paul Mescal and Andrew Scott’s undeniable chemistry in their forthcoming gay romance, All of Us Strangers.
Based off Taichi Yamada’s 1987 Japanese novel Strangers, supernatural drama All of Us Strangers follows 40-something screenwriter Adam (Scott) who has an encounter one night with his neighbour Harry (Mescal) in his London tower block that punctuates the rhythm of his everyday life.
As the two strike up a tender relationship, Adam returns to his childhood home where he finds his deceased parents preserved as ghosts, looking the same as the day they died 30 years before. Adam uses the apparitions to come out to his parents (played by Claire Foy and Jamie Bell) and truly be himself for the first time.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Haigh recalled how the two award-winning actors, best known for Fleabag and Normal People, had immediate chemistry with one another.
Paul Mescal (L) and Andrew Scott (R) make the perfect pair in All of Us Strangers. (Searchlight Picture/Chris Harris/20th Century Studios)
“There was chemistry between the two of them literally the second I saw them together,” he explained. “Both of them were pretty fearless. There was no sense of them being afraid of approaching those scenes. They knew how important they were.”
Haigh, who helmed the 2011 queer classic Weekend and served as a director and executive producer on gay dramedy series HBO’s Looking, explained that his approach to filming the sex scenes in All of Us Strangers was different to those he has filmed previously.
Andrew Scott as Adam (C) with his parents. (Searchlight Pictures)
“I’ve been more objective in how I’ve shot sex scenes in the past,” he continued. “Here, I really wanted to feel the subjective nature of having sex and what it feels like – the nervousness and the excitement and the physical sensation of being touched by someone else, and what that does to you.”
Haigh also reflected on the importance of casting gay actor Scott in the role of Adam, as a means of authentically portraying the character’s experience of finally coming out to his parents.
Paul Mescal as Harry in All of Us Strangers. (Searchlight Pictures)
“I’m not one of those people who thinks you have to cast a queer actor in a queer role,” Haigh continued, echoing Scott’s own view on the debate. “But for this role, I did want to because I was trying to unpick some nuances of a certain generation of gay people.
“I needed someone that could understand that and have those conversations with me. I didn’t want it to feel like I was trying to explain what it was like.”
Claire Foy and Jamie Bell as Adam’s parents in All of Us Strangers. (Searchlight Pictures)
In a film that centres queer intimacy, club culture and touching moments of self-acceptance, the director also spoke about wanting to capture his own experiences of being a gay man.
“I make no bones about the fact that this is a specific experience I’m telling, of a man in his late 40s who’s gay,” he concluded. “I’m trying to tell something that I understand, that is my experience of the world, and that is authentic to me.”
Andrew Scott as Adam in All of Us Strangers. (Searchlight Pictures)
At the 2023 IFTA Film & Drama Awards earlier in August, Scott opened up about his chemistry with Mescal and the “romcom” nature of All of Us Strangers.
“I wouldn’t describe it as a romcom, it’s quite dark,” he told Goss.ie. “But there is rom in it, and I suppose there’s a bit of com in it, so maybe it is a romcom. But it’s an unusual sort of one.
“Paul is a superstar and he’s a beautiful person inside and out. It was just a great pleasure to work with an Irish person. Irish boys abroad! We had an immediate shorthand with each other, and I’m very excited for everyone to see it.”
Adam and Harry in the club. (Searchlight Pictures)
All of Us Strangers will premiere at the 2023 New York Film Festival before being released in US cinemas on 22 December, 2023. There is currently no UK release date.