Sara Hemrajani on the rise of Nicholas Hoult…
The transition from child star to serious adult actor has always been notoriously difficult – for every triumph there seems to be double the number of failures. But one talent defying the odds is Nicholas Hoult. He joined the business as a 7-year-old, and now, nearly two decades on, is booking top parts and even launching films at the Cannes and Venice festivals.
Hoult’s forthcoming releases range from Rebel in the Rye, where he’ll portray reclusive author J.D. Salinger, to Collide, a drug smuggling drama with Anthony Hopkins, Felicity Jones and Ben Kingsley.
Let’s take a look at how he kept his career and profile on the rise:
About a Boy – Hoult famously embraced a goofy pudding bowl haircut and pitchy singing for his breakout film role in 2002’s About a Boy. The adaptation of Nick Hornby’s novel sees Hoult’s awkward pre-teen Marcus befriend Hugh Grant’s smarmy bachelor to wonderful comedic effect. About a Boy turned out to be a small British production that was hilarious, moving and an international hit, thanks in large part to Hoult’s sparkling chemistry with veterans such as Grant, Toni Collette and Rachel Weisz.
Skins – After a five-year hiatus from big projects, Hoult returned to public consciousness as an adult in the racy TV series Skins. The actor, then 18 years old, shook off his gawky About a Boy image by playing Tony Stonem, the effortlessly cool but manipulative ringleader of a group of school friends coming to grips with life, love and partying. The show’s runaway success also added another label to Hoult’s name – heart-throb.
A Single Man – Hoult donned an American accent, cream mohair jumper and fake tan to play a curious university student in the classroom of Colin Firth’s grieving gay professor in A Single Man. Tom Ford’s gorgeous directorial debut, set in 1960s Los Angeles, is all close-ups and lingering shots, in keeping with the story’s focus on sensuality and darker emotions. While Hoult’s character Kenny serves as little more than an attractive distraction, the part demonstrated a new level of maturity and willingness to experiment with a first time filmmaker.
X-Men: First Class and Days of Future Past – Hoult ventured into the lucrative Marvel universe with 20th Century Fox’s reboot of the X-Men franchise. Although Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy are undoubtedly the core duo as Magneto and Professor Xavier respectively, the ensemble cast of First Class includes the likes of A-listers Jennifer Lawrence, Kevin Bacon and Rose Byrne. But despite the major star power, Hoult makes an impression with his very blue and furry appearance as Dr Hank McCoy, a.k.a Beast. Critics and fans were positive about his turn as the sensitive, intelligent mutant who faces moral dilemmas in the development of a special serum.
In between the X-Men movies, Hoult clocked a financial misstep in the form of Jack the Giant Slayer; however, he returned to blockbuster terrain in Days of Future Past, which raked in a whopping $748 million at the global box office in 2014.
Mad Max: Fury Road – The X-Men series and zombie-themed rom-com Warm Bodies proved Hoult enjoyed dabbling in the action and sci-fi genres, even when heavy make-up was involved. So perhaps it was unsurprising to catch him – looking almost unrecognisable – in George Miller’s Mad Max revival. Sporting a shaved head, chalky white skin and menacing scars, Hoult’s war boy Nux is fascinating to watch with his hysterical energy, crazed expressions and confused loyalties. While his co-stars Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron received top billing, for many it was Hoult’s high octane performance that gave Mad Max: Fury Road a dose of extra fire.
Kill Your Friends – In his latest release, Hoult goes for brazen American Psycho-style satire and gore. Kill Your Friends is a twisted comedy about scheming and repulsive record label execs in the Britpop era. Hoult’s Steven Stelfox is a cunning, green-eyed A&R man who indulges in drug-fuelled rages and underhanded tactics to get that much coveted promotion. Rather than go for the safe hero-who-saves-the-day role, like many of his peers, Hoult takes a risk by playing the handsome sicko.