The future looks extremely bright for Nicholas Hoult.
The England-born thespian began acting at the age of 7, and later got his big break playing Hugh Grant’s 12-year-old pal Marcus in the 2002 movie “About a Boy.” Now 23, Hoult finds himself on the cusp of potential superstardom with a two-year stretch of roles in highly anticipated films.
Next month, the actor stars as the beanstalk-climbing hero in Bryan Singer’s fantasy epic “Jack the Giant Slayer.” And in 2014, he will reprise his role as Hank “Beast” McCoy in the superhero sequel “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” and appear as Nux in the reboot of Mel Gibson’s “Mad Max” franchise.
Hoult kicks off his steady rise to fame on February 1 with the release “Warm Bodies,” a unique, witty and charming tale of a zombie’s forbidden love for a fetching human, based on the novel by Isaac Marion. The film follows R (Hoult), a snarky 20-something trapped in a moaning, groaning undead body, as he roams a dystopian America after the zombie apocalypse. While hunting for food, R falls in love with a human woman named Julie (played by Teresa Palmer) after devouring her boyfriend’s brains and subsequently absorbing his sweet memories of her. As R and Julie begin their unlikely courtship, he begins to change in ways that could save humankind.
I recently caught up with Hoult to discuss “Warm Bodies,” the pitfalls of a human-zombie romance and his taste for historical brains.
David Onda: They say zombies are the new vampires. Why do people connect with something that lacks humanity?
Nicholas Hoult: I don’t know. That’s kind of the nice thing about “Warm Bodies.” It’s being told from a zombie’s point of view, which hasn’t been done before and is quite funny – sad and tragic in many ways, but also enjoyable just to see a different take on the zombie genre. People like a good scare, they enjoy having a laugh. All mythical creatures are exciting to watch. It’s nice to go to the cinema and watch something different.
Onda: This character doesn’t leave much room for showing emotion. Were you concerned about only being able to emote via voiceover?
Hoult: No, I think the voiceover was really well written and funny, witty and gives you a good insight into R and the person he used to be, which is important. Obviously there’s a very tricky thing having a lead character who is not very communicative and quite slow paced and not very expressive. But the nice balance around that is playing opposite Theresa – she’s so bubbly and likable and has got a really good energy about her, so it offsets that nicely.
Onda: What does Julie see in R? What’s the base attraction?
Hoult: I think she sees hope, she sees a chance to change. As much as R’s trapped in an undead state and wants to connect with humans and feel living again, she doesn’t see much hope for humanity. So, I think it’s that thing where she sees hope in him and she sees he’s trying. Which is important. If you see someone trying and doing their best, then that means a lot.
Onda: Is a human-zombie romance easier than a human-human romance?
Hoult: Oooh. Yeah, there can definitely be just as many difficulties within a human-human romance, I think. The first hurdle is overcoming the fact that they’re a zombie. A big step for the human, I would imagine. We never looked at it from the point of view that maybe it’s a big step for a zombie to fall in love with a human. He’s going against the grain a little bit, isn’t he? I think once you overcome that, and you’ve realize you’re not gonna get eaten, then I think it could be alright.
Onda: How does one prepare for a zombie kiss?
Hoult: With a zombie kiss, you can’t be too enthusiastic. Definitely not look like you’re making out with people every day and night and you’re a pro at it. It’s kind of just taking it easy and letting someone else do the work a little bit.
Onda: Do you find yourself drawn to loners? You’ve played a couple in your career so far.
Hoult: Yeah. I guess, sadly, I do. Everyone feels lonely sometimes, particularly being an actor, traveling around all the time, staying at different hotels. You make great friends when you’re shooting and get to meet some brilliant people, but it’s also a sacrifice. There’s definitely part of me that understand these characters who do feel a little bit like that.
Onda: When you were reading the script, which scene were you particularly excited about filming?
Hoult: There’s a scene quite early on in the film when, as a zombie, the undead hunting pack go out to try and find food in the city and we attack a group of humans who are out trying to find drugs and antibiotics for people who need them. Not recreational drugs. That’s unnecessary in a post-apocalyptic world. So, they’re out, and there’s a scene where I attack Perry – who’s played by Dave Franco – and is Julie’s then-boyfriend. And that was a scene I was really looking forward to shooting because it’s a little bit of action and R gets to kick some butt. It’s the first time that R meets Julie as well. There’s a lot happening in that sequence.
Onda: If you could take on anyone’s memories by eating their brain, who would it be?
Hoult: I’m not sure. I’d maybe go… [long pause] dead or alive?
Onda: They could be dead.
Hoult: You know what? This is a very tough one. Hang on. Sorry. In theory, that should be something that I had thought about. I’d probably go back to someone like Henry VIII or something. As much as you can read a history book and kind of get an idea of what life was like, it would be fascinating to actually see what was going on in their point of view. Henry VIII… not a good guy, but just to see what it was like and experience the world then.
Onda: Those would be some tasty brains.
Hoult: Also, someone ridiculously intelligent, just so I could, maybe, get a better understanding of the world.
“Warm Bodies” is in theaters everywhere February 1. Click here to order tickets through Fandango.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.