Nicholas Hoult

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Nicholas Hoult looking away from the camera.
Hoult at the San Diego Comic Con, 2015

Nicholas Caradoc Hoult (born 7 December 1989) is an English actor. Born in Wokingham, Berkshire, he was drawn to acting from a young age. Although Hoult initially wanted to study English, he later decided to pursue a career in acting after graduating from Sylvia Young Theatre School. Having made his screen debut at the age of seven in the 1996 film Intimate Relations, he variously appeared in such television shows as Magic Grandad and Waking the Dead. Hoult had his breakthrough with the role of Marcus Brewer in the 2002 comedy drama About a Boy; his performance in the film was praised and he was nominated for the Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Young Performer.

Hoult received wider recognition for his portrayal of Tony Stonem in the E4 teen drama series Skins. His transition to adult roles with the 2009 drama A Single Man and the 2010 fantasy adventure film Clash of the Titans was well received, and earned him a BAFTA Orange Rising Star Award nomination. Hoult was then cast as the mutant Beast in Matthew Vaughn's 2011 superhero film X-Men: First Class, a role he reprised in later installments of the series; his second production in the franchise, the $747 million grossing X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) marked his biggest commercial success.

Hoult's continued association with big-budget productions yielded varying results as seen with the 2013 box office bomb Jack the Giant Slayer and the 2015 blockbuster Mad Max: Fury Road. While he became known for his supporting work, Hoult later turned to starring roles mostly in independent films, including three of his 2017 releases, the romantic drama Newness and the biographical films Rebel in the Rye and The Current War where he played J. D. Salinger and Nikola Tesla respectively. Hoult is also a philanthropist and supports numerous charitable organisations.

Early life[edit]

Hoult was born in Wokingham, Berkshire, the third of four children of Glenis (née Brown; born 1954), a piano teacher, and Roger Hoult (born 1953), a retired British Airways pilot. His siblings are James (born 1977), Rosanna (born 1984), and Clarista (born 1992). His great-aunt was actress Dame Anna Neagle.[1] [2][3][4][5][6] His older siblings showed interest in acting and dancing from an early age, taking classes and attending auditions, and Hoult joined them once he found it interesting too, but clarified that it was not a pushy situation from his parents, and that they were "pretty outdoorsy normal kids".[7] He practised ballet along with his sisters and was involved in productions of Swan Lake and The Nutcracker with the national ballet, but claims he was never any good at it.[8]

Hoult attended The Coombes nursery in Arborfield, Berkshire, then the Arborfield Church of England Junior School.[9] On The Graham Norton Show, Hoult revealed that his middle name is Caradoc (pronounced /ka.rɑː'dɔk/), which in Welsh means "The Beloved One".[10]

Career[edit]

Early career (1996–2005)[edit]

Hoult's acting potential was discovered by the director of a play that starred the former's brother. The director was particularly impressed by the three year Hoult's ability to "concentrate well". He offered him his first acting job in his next theatre production The Caucasian Chalk Circle.[11] Hoult subsequently started attending auditions and was eventually cast in his first feature film role at the age of five in the 1996 drama Intimate Relations. He later variously appeared in television shows such as Casualty, Silent Witness, The Bill and Doctors, among others. Hoult initially treated acting as a hobby rather than a potential career option and recalled, in a March 2009 interview with The Daily Telegraph, that he was not "in love with it"; he said, "I just enjoyed it. It was like playing for a football team. When you got a part it was great. And meeting new people. It was an exciting new world."[11]

Hoult's next feature film appearance came at the age of eleven, when he starred, alongside Hugh Grant, in Chris and Paul Weitz's comedy-drama film About a Boy.[12] Hoult was initially reluctant to audition for the role as it was a long drawn process and interfered with his schooling. Regardless, he decided to participate in the early rounds of auditions and was eventually cast in the role of Marcus, a "woolly-hatted, oddball son of a suicidal, hippy-ish single mother, he gets bullied horribly at school".[13] About a Boy became a commercial success grossing over $130 million worldwide and was unanimously praised by film critics.[12][14] Hoult's portrayal of a lonely schoolboy was well received by commentators; David Thomas, writing for The Daily Telegraph, ascribed the film's appeal and success to Hoult's performance.[13] By the time the film was released Hoult had quit his junior school in Arborfield, Berkshire, for the performing arts school Sylvia Young Theatre School, London, a transition that he described as tough. Aged 14, he quit the Sylvia Young Theatre School as students at the institute had to sign with its agency and he still did not want to pursue acting as a profession, and preferred to attend a regular school, which he did at Ranelagh.[11]

Hoult starred as Ralph Compton, a young boy who is forced to deal with the disintegration of his family in Wah-Wah, the 2005 semi-autobiographical directorial debut of British actor Richard E Grant. The film is set in the 1960s Swaziland and chronicles the end of the British Empire in Africa.[15] Hoult next made his debut in Hollywood with the Nicolas Cage starrer The Weather Man, which released in the same year. Directed by Gore Verbinski, the production featured Cage as a weatherman in the midst of a mid-life crisis and Hoult as his son. The film and Hoult's performance went unnoticed.[16][17] Both Wah-Wah and The Weather Man performed poorly at the box office.[18][19]

Skins and West End debut (2006–10)[edit]

Hoult was studying in the Sixth Form College Farnborough in 2006 when he was cast in the lead role of the teen-drama Skins. He was initially sceptical of his ability to play the role of Tony Stonem, a manipulative, egocentric anti-hero, and associated more closely to the supporting character of Sid.[17] The show was a breakout success and ran for seven series, but Hoult was only part of the first two; his performance was well received and he garnered widespread attention with the character's growing popularity.[20][21] Skins went on to win the British Academy of Film and Television Arts' (BAFTA) Philip Audience Award and Hoult too earned accolades including a nomination for the Golden Nymph Award for Best Actor in a Drama Series.[22] Freelance writer and critic Elliott David lauded him for his brilliant performance in a 2016 retrospective​ review, and wrote that he managed to "maintain the inexplicable core of his character throughout".[23] During his time on the show, Hoult felt overwhelmed by the attention and even considered quitting acting at one point, but eventually decided against it. Instead, he quit school at the end of the first series of Skins and chose to focus solely on acting.[7] The show has since been credited for widening his opportunities as an actor, with directors and producers claiming his performance as a factor that drove them to cast him in their respective projects.[23]

Hoult briefly appeared as Stefan Fredman in the pilot episode of the British television series Wallander.[24] He later made his West End theatre debut with William Sutcliffe's coming of age play New Boy; the production premiered at the Trafalgar Studios and had record-breaking ticket sales, which was mostly attributed to Hoult's popularity among the viewers of Skins.[25][26][27] The play was staged only for a week in March 2009 as Hoult had committed to be a part of the fantasy adventure Clash of the Titans (2010), filming for which was scheduled for the summer later that year. Hoult's performance as a "ferociously bright and articulate but sexually confused sixth-former" received mixed response from critics. While Dominic Cavendish of The Daily Telegraph thought that he was able to persuade the viewers with his performance, Lyn Gardner of The Guardian found him average and highlighted his inability to bring out the "unresolved sexual tension beneath [the] banter".[26][27] Clash of the Titans whilst being panned by critics was a success at the box office, grossing nearly half billion dollars worldwide.[28]

Hoult next appeared in Tom Ford's directorial debut production A Single Man, after the actor originally cast in the role of Kenny Potter dropped out of the film only about a week before filming was scheduled. Hoult had previously shown interest in the project and had sent a recorded audition tape as well; he was eventually chosen for the role of Kenny, a homosexual college student who helps a college professor, played by Colin Firth, deal with his grief.[29][30] It was variously described by media outlets as the first adult role for Hoult, who himself described his character as "spontaneous" and somebody who was not simply defined by his sexuality.[30][31][32][33] Playing his first major role as an American, he worked on his accent; in his review for the film, Sukhdev Sandhu of The Daily Telegraph made note of Ford's strange choice to cast British actors as Americans (Hoult and Matthew Goode) and vice versa (Julianne Moore).[34][35] A Single Man opened to widespread acclaim despite reservations from critical faculties about Ford's direction abilities and also emerged as a box office success.[36][37][38][39] Peter Travers, writing for Rolling Stone, praised Hoult's "beautiful" performance.[40] The film earned him a nomination for BAFTA Rising Star Award at the 2010 ceremony; he eventually lost to Kristen Stewart.[41][42]

Commerical success with X-Men and Mad Max (2011–2016)[edit]

Hoult was cast as Nux in George Miller's delayed action film Mad Max: Fury Road; the project spent several years in development hell as plans for a fourth film in the Mad Max franchise were met with financial difficulties.[43] Filming was planned for the summer of 2010, but during pre-production in Australia it was delayed indefinitely due to heavy rain.[23] With no other immediate commitments, Hoult began to look for other prospects. He was eventually cast in the role of Hank McCoy/Beast for the X-Men film series owing to his ability to play somebody "gentle with a capability of being fierce".[44][45] Although earlier reports had suggested that Benjamin Walker was to play the role, Hoult was eventually finalised for the 2011 Matthew Vaughn directed installment X-Men: First Class, a prequel to the franchise's earlier trilogy. Before the filming began, Hoult worked on familiarising himself with his character; he said that he "formulated [his] own version of the Beast" and took inspiration from Kelsey Grammer's performance in the previous three X-Men films as his charm and eloquence was something that he wanted to emulate. He learnt to speak in a dialect similar to Grammer's "but without [it] being an imitation".[46] He also underwent physical training and gained weight to better suit his character.[47] The film, which was widely praised by critics for its script and performances, performed moderately well at the box office collecting a total of about $353 million against a production budget of $160 million.[48][49] Although it was the lowest ranked production in the entire series in terms of box office numbers, Chris Aronson of 20th Century Fox deemed it "an excellent start to a new chapter of the franchise".[50]

Hoult at the San Diego Comic Con, 2013

Hoult had starring roles in two major studio productions in 2013; the films, both of which were based on prior fictional writings, yielded contrasting results. He first played R, a zombie in Jonathan Levine's romantic comedy Warm Bodies, which was released on February, 1.[51] An adaptation of Isaac Marion's novel of the same name, the film is presented from point of view of the central character, mostly through narration. Levine said that he had difficulties finding the right actor to play R, until he met Hoult. The latter himself was attracted to project—which he described as "much more than a horror movie" owing to the use of multiple pop culture and literary allusions—and even more so to the role which "bowled [me] over". He said that he drew inspiration from Edward Scissorhands (1990) as he thought that the central characters in both share the same travails.[52] To prepare for the role of a zombie, Hoult and the other actors involved with the project practiced with circus performers; he said of the experience: "with the Cirque du Soleil, we would take our shoes off in a dance studio [...] kind of grow out of the wall and make our bodies feel very heavy".[53] The film garnered positive response from critics and and audiences alike.[54] His next release, Bryan Singer's fantasy adventure Jack the Giant Slayer failed at the box office and received mixed response from critics. Based on the British fairy tales "Jack the Giant Killer" and "Jack and the Beanstalk", the film had him play the eponymous hero.[55] Hoult's performance was poorly received by such film critics as Mary Pols, Justin Chang and Richard Roeper. While the first of the aforementioned was critical of his "disconcerting" imitation of Hugh Grant, the other two simply dismissed him and his character as "bland" and "boring" respectively.[56][57][58]

Hoult then appeared in Jake Paltrow's science fiction film Young Ones, his first release of 2014. Set in a dystopian future with a water scarcity, it had him play Flem Lever, a young man who would go to any lengths to claim the land owned by the film's central character Ernest Holm, played by Michael Shannon.[59] Hoult thought of the role as unlike anything he had done before and said that his questionable choices throughout the film intrigued him. He read novels written by S. E. Hinton to prepare for the role. The film was shot in a deserted location in South Africa; Hoult said that although it was tough to shoot in the hot weather conditions, the "beautiful" scenery helped to tell story better.[60] He and his co-star Elle Fanning said that it also made them more conscious of the environmental concerns.[60] The film had premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and was met with mixed response.[60] Commentators highlighted the film's standout scenery​, but we're critical of its poor plot.[59] Hoult was deemed as an ill fit with the story’s "stoically retrograde machismo" by Keith Uhlich of The A.V. Club.[61] He reprised his role as Hank McCoy in the sequel for First Class in Bryan Singer's X-Men: Days Of Future Past, his only other release of 2014. Hoult felt that playing the character was a freeing experience for him as an actor and said that it was "fun to suddenly be able to break loose". He further explained: "when you're wearing the makeup [...] you can perform big [...] you get to have two very different techniques, performances" He also talked about the lengthy make-up procedure in an interview with Shunal Doke of IGN, saying that it could go on for as long as three and a half hours.[62] X-Men: Days of Future Past went on to earn over $747 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing film in the series (it was later surpassed by Deadpool in 2016) and in Hoult's career.[63]

After a couple of years of delay and development, Mad Max: Fury Road was finally filmed in 2012 from June to December in Namibia. The film had its world premiere on 7 May 2015 at the TCL Chinese Theatre. It began a worldwide theatrical release on 14 May 2015, including an out-of-competition screening at the 68th Cannes Film Festival, in 2D, 3D, IMAX 3D and 4DX. It has grossed over $378 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing film in the Mad Max franchise. Widely acclaimed for its screenplay, action sequences, and art direction, the film was ranked by many critics as the best film of 2015, as well as one of the greatest action films ever made. Fury Road won multiple critical and guild awards, and received ten Academy Award nominations. Hoult's performance was praised by many critics and his character and phrases became very popular with fans of the film.

Hoult had three other releases in 2015, all of which were critical and commercial failures. The mystery thriller adaptation Dark Places directed by Gilles Paquet-Brenner, with Charlize Theron, Christina Hendricks and Chloë Grace Moretz. The 2015 British dark comedy crime-thriller film directed by Owen Harris, Kill Your Friends script written by John Niven based on his own written 2008 novel of the same name, playing the lead character Steven Stelfox, alongside Craig Roberts, James Corden, Tom Riley and Ed Skrein. Equals an American science fiction dystopian romantic drama film directed by Drake Doremus starring opposite Kristen Stewart.

Once again Hoult reprised his role of Hank McCoy/Beast for the 2016 American Super-Hero film X-Men: Apocalypse. The film wasn't as successful as its predecessor Days of Future Past but it still got to be the third highest grossing X-Men film worldwide[64] and topped the foreign box office for three weeks in a row.[65][66]

Transition to biographical and independent films (2017–present)[edit]

Hoult filmed the 2017 car chase action film Collide in 2014, and it was due to be released in 2015 but some issues with the original distributors forced the film to be pushed for the release in America.[67] Sand Castle is an upcoming British war drama film directed by Fernando Coimbra and written by Chris Roessner. The film centers on Matt Ocre (played by Hoult), a young machine gunner tasked to save a village in Iraq. Hoult will also be playing American author J.D. Salinger in Rebel in the Rye, an upcoming American biographical drama film directed and written by Danny Strong. The film will center on the life of author from his youth to the World War II era, including his romantic life and the publication of his debut novel The Catcher in the Rye.[68]

Hoult will be part of an upcoming British-Irish-American animated television mini-series Watership Down, directed by Noam Murro. It is based on the 1972 novel of the same name by Richard Adams and adapted by Tom Bidwell.[69] It will be a four-part serial that will broadcast on BBC One in the United Kingdom, and will stream internationally on Netflix in 2017. Hoult will be voice one of the lead characters, Fiver. He will also reprise his role as Beast in the 2018 film X-Men: Dark Phoenix.[70]

Personal life and other works[edit]

During his childhood, Hoult played basketball for his local team, Reading Rockets.[71] He is currently an ambassador for the club.[72]

Nicholas has remained friends with most of his Skins co-stars and counts some of them among his best friends. Kaya Scodelario, who played his sister on the series, has called him her "guardian angel in this industry".[73] While filming X-Men: First Class in 2010, Hoult began a romantic relationship with his co-star Jennifer Lawrence. The couple broke up in 2014.[74]

He has a known liking for motor sports, is a fan of Formula One and has attended Grand Prix events around the world in Monaco, Montreal, Singapore and Germany.[75][76][77] He also enjoys Go-Karting in his free time [78] and riding motorcycles as transportation and on racing tracks.[79][80][81]

Philanthropy[edit]

Hoult is a philanthropist and supports numerous charities; he has been variously associated with organisations that support children. He was appointed the first NSPCC Young Person Ambassador, for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), helping support the charity's activities aimed at children and young people.[82] Since 2009, he has also been involved with Teenage Cancer Trust. He continues to visit patients supported by the organisation and has helped promote such awareness campaigns associated with the trust as the "Shunburn", a sun safety campaign among others.[83] Hoult designed sweaters for Save the Children and Selfish Mother's Christmas Jumper Day campaign. He encouraged customers to buy the festive collection and support the charitable cause, which he though would bring a "real change to children's lives".[84] He also donated a pair of shoes, which was auctioned by Small Steps Project, a organisation that helps homeless and undernutritioned children.[85] Hoult was inducted into the NSPCC Hall of Fame in 2010, for his contributions​ towards the cause of fighting​ child cruelty.[86]

Hoult visited slums in Nairobi, Kenya as a part of a Christian Aid project aimed at providing clean water and sanitation to the residents. During his stay he met the natives and helped in cleaning the locality. He said of his experience: "I met great people making the best of the situation [...] it is heart-breaking in many ways to see the living conditions."[87] Hoult also participated in the Rickshaw Run in January 2017, where participants drove an auto rickshaw (tuk tuk) for 3000 km across India inorder to raise funds for Teenage Cancer Trust and World Wide Fund for Nature.[88][89] He has also been associated with the Jeans for Refugees, a project and fundraising initiative dedicated to helping refugees around the world.[90] He donated a signed pair of jeans to the organisation; the profit earned form the campaign was to be donated to the International Rescue Committee, supporting refugees all over the world.[91]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1996 Intimate Relations Bobby
1997 Mr White Goes to Westminster John
2002 About a Boy Marcus Brewer
2005 Wah-Wah Ralph Compton
The Weather Man Mike
2006 Kidulthood Blake
2007 Coming Down the Mountain David Phillips
2009 A Single Man Kenny Potter
2010 Clash of the Titans Eusebios
2011 Rule Number Three Matt Short film
X-Men: First Class Henry "Hank" McCoy / Beast
2013 Warm Bodies R
Jack the Giant Slayer Jack
2014 Young Ones Flem Lever
X-Men: Days of Future Past Henry "Hank" McCoy / Beast Shared role with Kelsey Grammer
2015 Dark Places Lyle Wirth
Mad Max: Fury Road Nux
Equals Silas
Kill Your Friends Steven Stelfox
2016 X-Men: Apocalypse Henry "Hank" McCoy / Beast
Underdogs Ace Voice only; US version.
Collide Casey
2017 Rebel in the Rye J. D. Salinger
Newness Martin
Sand Castle Matt Ocre
The Current War Nikola Tesla
2018 The Favourite Robert Harley Post-production
X-Men: Dark Phoenix Henry "Hank" McCoy / Beast Post-production
Tolkien J. R. R. Tolkien Filming

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1996 Casualty Craig Morrissey Episode: "It Ain't Me, Babe"
1998 Silent Witness Tom Evans Episode: "An Academic Exercise"
1999 The Ruth Rendell Mysteries Barry Episode: "The Fallen Curtain"
2000 The Bill Hugh Austin Episode: "The Squad"
2001 Magic Grandad Tom 3 episodes
Holby City Oscar Banks Episode: "Borrowed Time"
Doctors Conor Finch Episode: "Unfinished Business"
Waking the Dead Max Bryson 2 episodes
World of Pub 11-year-old show presenter Episode: "Sixties"
2002 Murder in Mind Andrew Wilsher Episode: "Memories"
Judge John Deed Jason Powell Episode: "Everyone's Child"
2003 Star Bradley Fisher 7 episodes
2004 Keen Eddie Edward Mills Episode: "Who Wants to Be in a Club That Would Have Me as a Member?"
2005 Mystery Hunters Himself Episode: "Salem Witches"
2007–08 Skins Tony Stonem 19 episodes (seasons one and two)
2008 Wallander Stefan Fredman Episode: "Sidetracked"
2012 Robot Chicken Harry Potter, Captain America Episode: "Collateral Damage in Gang Turf War"
2017 Watership Down Fiver Miniseries; Filming (voice only)

Music videos[edit]

Year Artist Song
2010 The Midnight Beast "Lez Be Friends"

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2010 Fable III Elliot Voice

Commercial[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2010 Tom Ford Eyewear Model Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter campaigns
2014– Jaguar Boffin/Himself 'Method to our Madness' 2014 Campaign for F-Type Coupe,[92] 'Master Plan' 2015 Campaign for Jaguar XE[93] and 'Smart Cone Challenge' 2016 Campaign for Jaguar XF [94]
2016 Sky Fibre – X-Men Apocalypse – Television Advertisement Hank McCoy / Beast Set after the events of X-Men: Apocalypse[95][96]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Title Award Result
2002 About a Boy Phoenix Film Critics Society Award – Best Performance by a Youth in a Leading or Supporting Role Won
2002 About a Boy Young Artist Award for Best Performance in a Feature Film – Leading Young Actor Nominated
2002 About a Boy Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards for Best Young Actor/Actress Nominated
2003 About a Boy OFTA Film Award for Best Youth Performance Won
2008 Skins Golden Nymph Award for Best Actor in a Drama Series Nominated
2010 A Single Man British Academy Film Awards for Orange Rising Star Award Nominated
2011 X-Men: First Class People's Choice Award for Favorite Ensemble Movie Cast Nominated
2011 X-Men: First Class Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Chemistry[97] Nominated
2013 Warm Bodies Teen Choice Award for Choice Breakout Won
2013 Warm Bodies Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Actor Comedy Nominated
2013 Warm Bodies Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Actor Romance Nominated
2014 X-Men: Days of Future Past Young Hollywood Awards for Super Superhero Nominated
2014 X-Men: Days of Future Past Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Scene Stealer Male Nominated
2015 Mad Max: Fury Road Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Scene Stealer Nominated
2015 Mad Max: Fury Road Gold Derby Award for Best Ensemble Cast Nominated
2017 X-Men: Apocalypse Kid Choice Award for Best Squad in a Movie Nominated

References[edit]

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