Ready for her close-up! Alison Oliver couldn’t believe her luck when she was cast in Hulu’s Conversations With Friends — having just graduated from college shortly before getting her big break.
The Ireland native, 23, got a crash course in TV acting after she landed the role of Frances in the adaptation of Sally Rooney’s debut novel by the same name. Conversations With Friends is set to premiere on the streaming service on Sunday, May 15.
“I cannot believe that happened. It was just the most surreal experience,” Oliver told The Irish Times in an interview published on Saturday, May 7. “Prior to getting the part, I was already a massive Sally Rooney fan. I had read the book before I auditioned.”
She added: “And so I guess I already had my own connection to it. When the audition came around I thought, ‘Oh, my God!’ I guess in those situations, all you can do is do your best and hope for the best.”
Rooney, 31, previously found success on the small screen in 2020 when she turned her 2018 novel, Normal People, into a limited series for BBC Three in the U.K. and later on Hulu. The show was nominated for four Emmys and helped launch the careers of its stars Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones, both of whom Oliver has become close with in recent years.
Oliver, who stars alongside Joe Alwyn, Jemima Kirke and Sasha Lane in Conversations With Friends, may be new to Hollywood, but her “little tribe” in London is filled with stars.
“I knew Paul because he was three years above me in college, so when I found out that I was going to do this, he reached out a couple of times and has been really, really nice,” Oliver told the Belfast Times earlier this month. “I know Daisy a little bit too. It’s like we’re looking out for each other a little bit.”
Conversations With Friends follows the lives of Frances (Oliver) and her ex-girlfriend Bobbi (Lane) after they meet Melissa (Kirke) at a poetry reading while attending university. While Bobbi instantly starts flirting with Melissa, Frances finds herself drawn to Melissa’s husband, Nick (Alwyn), with whom she begins an affair.
“I was in college at the time, and I’m not from Dublin, but there were similarities in terms of things about Frances’ life that I really resonated with,” Oliver told Elle in April of her connection to the story. “She’s such a multifaceted character; she can be really, really awkward and embarrassed and nervous, and then she can be ballsy and brave and a bit reckless. I tried to have fun with all those elements of her, and I was just lucky that maybe they saw I was trying to do that.”
She added: “It is definitely a really complicated story. There are so many things that people can get from it. It’s a coming-of-age story. It’s also a story about an affair. It’s also a story about female friendship. I found that — whether it’s one person, two people, three people — love is always going to be complicated. And there’s always going to be sacrifices made.”
Scroll down to learn more about Oliver before Conversations With Friends premieres Sunday, May 15, on Hulu: