While some may remember Nicholas Hoult as the kid in About a Boy, over the past few years he’s proven that he’s definitely capable of playing adult roles in films like A Single Man, X-Men: First Class, and Clash of the Titans. While Hoult was certainly becoming more well-known as an adult actor, he hadn’t ever lead a film before. That all changes in 2013. With leading roles in Warm Bodies and Bryan Singer’s Jack the Giant Slayer, Hoult is starting a new chapter in his career, and based on what I saw while visiting the set of Jack back in 2011, I think he’s going to easily make the jump.
Recently I landed an exclusive phone interview with Hoult. We talked about the success of Warm Bodies, what it’s been like promoting Jack, how the film changed during production, deleted scenes, working with all the CGI characters, and more. In addition, we also talked about George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road, X-Men: First Class and the sequel X-Men: Days of Future Past, and his other upcoming projects. Hit the jump for what he had to say.
NICHOLAS HOULT: Yeah, it was a very pleasant surprise. Obviously I loved the script and the character and really enjoyed making the film and thought that everyone involved was very talented, but it’s a big relief when something comes out and people seem to like it and go and see and it does well. It’s always a big reward at the end.
I’m sure your agents were very happy in terms of helping you get other meetings.
HOULT: Yeah, no of course, that’s the main thing about that. When something is successful it means hopefully it opens up other doors and means you carry on to do things you like and care about, and work with good people.
What have the last few days been like for you? Obviously you promoted Warm Bodies, but it seems like you’ve probably done 100 interviews for Jack already.
HOULT: It’s been extremely boring, I’ve been answering the same questions either about Warm Bodies or Jack for days on end and it becomes quite tedious, but it’s part of the job. The good thing about Warm Bodies and this is that they’re films that I was very happy to work on and I’m proud of, so that makes it easier, and so far people seem to be responding well to them, so that makes it easier.
At least they’re not continuing to ask you about Skins or Clash of the Titans.
I want to go backwards for a second. The movie I really enjoyed that you were in was A Single Man.
HOULT: Oh yeah, nice one, thank you very much. I like that film a lot.
HOULT: No, people do talk about it a fair bit. I think Tom [Ford] made a really touching film and Colin [Firth] gave such a brilliant performance that a fair few people did end up seeing it. I’ve got very fond memories of working on that and I’m very proud of it.
With regards to Jack the Giant Slayer, I’m always curious about the way filmmaking changes along the way, from when you first got the script and first got involved in the project to what I saw on screen the other day. How much did the film change over time?
HOULT: It changed a fair bit. It would change on set. Bryan and I would talk and change things and tweak things; overall the general idea of the film and the tone of it stayed the same though. Bryan is very much of the philosophy that there’s three films that you make whilst making a single film whereby you write a script and that’s a version of it, then you shoot something and that’s a different version, and then the film that you make in the edit as well and if those three things link up and work well hopefully it all makes a good film at the end of it.
Talk a little bit about deleted scenes. I heard that you guys changed a little bit in the house at the beginning where originally the princess was pretending to be a boy and then obviously that’s not the way it was in the finished film.
HOULT: That was one of the main changes that happened whereby we went back over that scene and re-edited some of the dialogue, cut stuff, and moved around stuff and that’s a big change, particularly early on in the story and in the relationship between my character and Eleanor’s. That was something that you have to keep on your toes with that sort of thing and try and adapt and survive basically.
HOULT: I do have a Twitter account now, yeah, mainly to stop fakes because there are quite a few people that have fake Twitters of me and saying things that I didn’t appreciate.
I put on Twitter that I was going to talk to you and sometimes I don’t get that many questions, but I’m definitely getting some for you. I got one from Cory Hardrict that said, “Tell Nick the Crook I said what’s up.”
HOULT: [Laughs] That’s brilliant. I had a lot of fun working with that guy.
Have you ever done any of these “ask me anything” kind of things on Twitter?
HOULT: At least one of my friends sent a message going, “Do you still love me?” They get great enjoyment out of posting things on there to me.
I did a set visit on this film and I saw the way you guys worked, how Bryan had the two monitors, one with the pre-vis one with what was actually being filmed, it seemed like it was a very complicated borderline tedious process working in this kind of CGI character environment. What was it like for you acting in this film?
HOULT: It’s difficult because it’s a slower process with the 3D and all the technology so it is a slower process and that can become- you don’t get to build up much momentum throughout scenes which can make it difficult. Luckily Bryan is very technically gifted and can really bring so many elements together on screen of what’s actually there, what you’re going to be adding afterwards in post-production and he was very clear and a good leader in that sense whereby it all made sense. Yeah, I’ll tell you what it was a thrill to see the film and the end result, because 50% of what’s there on the screen wasn’t there for us. So to see it all cut together and what a fantastic job they’ve done with the effects really made me very excited because they managed to capture some brilliant performances from the actors that played the giants and brought them onto the screen really well.
I’m going to switch subjects completely because there is something very important that we need to talk about, and that is you’re pairing with George Miller on Mad Max. Hopefully not too many people have spent too much time asking about it, have they?
HOULT: I’ve been asked, but there’s not too much I can say about it to be honest with you. George is a fantastic director very sweet, kind and caring and creates a brilliant environment to work in whereby you have these spectacular locations and the vehicles in that movie, the gut-churning noises they make. It was one of the most exciting sets I’ve ever been on in my life by far. To be a part of that visually and see the stunts they were doing. The story is full on, it’s intense and I can’t wait to see the film.
Obviously I’m not going to ask you about the story because I don’t want you to get in trouble, but what was it like working with Tom [Hardy] and Charlize [Theron] and everyone else in this movie? Because you guys were filming on location, this wasn’t some soundstage movie.
HOULT: No we were out there in the elements doing it for real for maybe seven months, which is great because it makes it a lot easier when you’re actually experiencing that that rather than being in a studio somewhere kind of faking everything. Tom’s a great leading man, he’s very intense and fascinating to watch because you’re never quite sure where he’s going to go with a scene and what he’s going to do next and really embodies the character and is really smart with his acting. Charlize as well, she’s very strong and committed and I learn a lot from hanging around with actors like that. The rest of the cast Zoe Kravitz, Riley Keough; they’re all a real treat to work with. I made really good friends. It’s a real life changing experience spending that much time with a group of people and being in that location.
HOULT: Not really, I tried to spend a little bit of time at home beforehand just because I wasn’t going to be able to do that for a while. I had to be in good physical shape, so that sort of thing. Apart form that it was just kind of getting ready. When shoots are that long it also becomes sort of an endurance test, so you just want to go into feeling very fresh and pace yourself.
Since I know you can’t talk too much more about Mad Max, I’m going to say I rewatched X-Men: First Class recently and it’s a damn, damn good movie. Looking back on it now are you a little bit surprised by how really great that film is?
HOULT: You know what, I think Matthew Vaughn is a great movie maker, he knows how to entertain people and when you put him into the X-Men world and it was a great storyline and cast, I think it had the potential whilst we were making it. But, yeah, it’s always a nice surprise when things do work out when you see the end result because when you’re there on set sometimes you can think that you’re doing the best work in the world ever and it’s going to be wonderful and then see the end result and it doesn’t work for some reason. You can’t quite always put your finger on what it is that works or doesn’t work and vice versa as well. You could go on set and think that a scene in a movie doesn’t work and then see it on the screen and be like, “Wow, I don’t know what happened here, but the score and the editing and whatever it is it’s suddenly something that’s really working.” That’s down to the director a lot of times and their vision I guess.
Obviously you guys are filming the sequel in the next few months and you have Bryan Singer helming it, have you been peppering him with questions about what’s coming up for Beast and what’s coming up for the shoot?
HOULT: Yes, I’ve been trying to get a fair bit of information out of him, he’s kind of making me hang on until the script a little bit, but he’s given a few rough ideas of what’s going to be going on. The brilliant thing about it is seeing him so excited about it because that’s always a good sign when you get a director that excited about the story and the ideas and what’s going to be happening then you know that it sign to be a real thrill to work on.
It’s based on probably the best X-Men storyline out of the comic books. Have you read the Chris Claremont/ John Byrne issues recently in the last year or two since you heard that this was going to be the one you guys were focusing on?
HOULT: I haven’t, I’ve got them on order and I’m waiting until we get close to the filming to get into those. I’m probably going to wait and read the script first. I think that’s always a good place to start from.
Do you know when you’re shooting yet? Do you have your schedule?
HOULT: I don’t have the complete dates yet, I know it’s going to be starting fairly soon here. Bryan’s already scouting locations and really getting into pre-production so still waiting to hear exactly, but in the not too distant future.
HOULT: I did, we shot Warm Bodies there so I’m really looking forward to going back, and I really enjoyed my time in that city. It’s got a great European, North American mix and I really liked it, the architecture and everything, so I’m looking forward to going back there when it’s hopefully not going to be so cold.
The thing that really impresses me about this X-Men sequel is that it seems like Bryan has cast everybody in Hollywood to be in this movie, people who have been in all the X-Men movies. It seems like this cast is going to be amazing. When you started hearing about the cast that he’s put together are you sort of like “I cannot wait to film this?”
HOULT: Yeah and you know the thing that really excites me about it was I grew up watching Ian McKellan, Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman and those guys in the X-Men films and that’s going to be really exciting to be on set with them in an X-Men movie is going a dream come true definitely.
Do you know what else you’re doing in 2013? Have you thought about what you might want to do next?
HOULT: Yeah, I’m doing a film at the moment called Young Ones with Michael Shannon, Elle Fanning, and Kodi Smit-McPhee that Jake Paltrow is directing and then I’m going to do a film adaptation of Sebastian Faulks’s novel Birdsong with Rupert Wyatt directing that.
Click here for all our previous Jack the Giant Slayer coverage.