Daisy Edgar-Jones On Tackling Yet Another Literary Heroine

The newly minted star talks about her upcoming role in ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’—and the “lethal” ‘Normal People’ drinking game she and co-star Paul Mescal devised.

I know, I don’t know why I keep putting myself through this!” Daisy Edgar-Jones jokes of playing another literary character who people have, shall we say, strong feelings about. First it was Marianne, the heroine of Normal People. Now, she’s signed on for the role of “Marsh Girl” Kya in the Reese Witherspoon-produced adaptation of Delia Owens’s bestselling book club discussion-fueler, Where the Crawdads Sing.

“I read the book in a day and a half,” Edgar-Jones says, “and just fell so deeply in love with her and her world, and what the story was talking about, this idea of loneliness. She’s such a wonderfully complex character—there’s a load of stuff to delve really deep into.” Including the way she takes solace in nature, something Edgar-Jones says she relates to. Just as she did for Normal People, the 22-year-old auditioned for Crawdads with a self-tape from the set of her TV show War of the Worlds, with co-star Bayo Gbadamosi once again reading her sides. “The key is, any self-tape, I have to recruit poor Bayo because he’s just wonderful to read with,” she says. “He seems to be bringing me some luck.”

Edgar-Jones hasn’t met Witherspoon yet, but says adorably, “I had a wee email with her” when the casting news was announced. “Her ethos of telling stories with strong women at the center, and strong women behind the scenes as well, is something I’m really excited to delve into. I’ve been a fan of hers for years.” When she isn’t perfecting her Southern accent for the role, Edgar-Jones is preparing to play opposite Sebastian Stan in Fresh, a shrouded-in-mystery project from director Mimi Cave. “I can’t say much, but it’s a social thriller,” she says. “It’s wonderfully clever and outrageous and fun and very different from anything I’ve done before.”

When we last spoke over the summer for ELLE’s Young Hollywood portfolio, Edgar-Jones was experiencing a strange kind of half-fame: instantly recognizable to anyone with a Hulu account, but mostly living a humdrum life at home like all of us in quarantine. Though the Normal People cast did their press junket virtually, they remain close; Edgar-Jones reunited with co-stars Paul Mescal and India Mullen (who plays Peggy in the miniseries) later in the summer, during the reprieve from lockdown in the U.K. They sat down to finally watch the show together in person, complete with a drinking game.

“I was just like, ‘Should we spice this up a bit?’” Edgar-Jones recalls. “We thought up some funny rules—every time Connell doesn’t complete a sentence, or every time Marianne says something a bit disarming, you drink. It’s quite a lethal game, though—I’d recommend taking some caution whilst playing it,” she continues. “Sometimes you only did a little sip, and sometimes you had to do a big gulp; when the characters said ‘I love you,’ which doesn’t happen very often, you had to down a big old drink.” Edgar-Jones also enthuses about Mescal’s turn in “Savior Complex,” the Phoebe Bridgers music video directed by Phoebe Waller-Bridge. (“The two coolest Phoebes in the world,” she adds.)

When we speak, she’s headed for “a wee outside stroll” with two other Normal People co-stars, Leah McNamara and Niamh Lynch, who played her classmates on the show. “To be able to finally meet up and go, ‘Oh my god, what a bloody weird year this has been!’ is really nice,” she says. “We’ve been very lucky that the show was able to air and that people loved it as much as we did.”

Styled by Sarah Zendejas. Hair by Bjorn Krischker at Frank Agency, makeup by Liz Pugh for Chanel.