Nicholas Hoult

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8 mins read

Nicholas Caradoc Hoult was born 7 December 1989 and is an English actor.

His body of work includes supporting work in big-budget mainstream productions and starring roles in independent projects in both the American and the British film industries.

He was born in Wokingham, Berkshire, to Glenis (née Brown), a piano teacher, and Roger Hoult, a commercial pilot. His middle name, Caradoc is Welsh and translates to “The Beloved One”.

His paternal great-aunt was Dame Anna Neagle, a stage and film actress active in the 1930s and 1940s. He has three siblings: an elder brother who is a United States–based biology student; and two sisters, both of whom are actresses. Hoult spent most of his childhood at his family’s residence in Sindlesham, an estate village in the borough of Wokingham. His older siblings were interested in acting and dancing from an early age, taking classes and attending auditions. As a child, he began accompanying them and developed his own interest in acting.

During Hoult’s childhood, his father was regularly working away from home and his brother was away attending school. As a result, he spent most of his time with his mother and sisters; he said being raised by women might have helped him steer clear of some pitfalls that guys who didn’t grow up with women would fall into.

Hoult was educated at The Coombes Infant and Nursery School and then Arborfield Church of England Junior School. He practised ballet with his sisters and took part in productions of Swan Lake and The Nutcracker with the English National Ballet. Although he initially wanted to attain advanced level certificates in English, Biology, and Psychology, in 2002, aged 12, he decided instead to attend acting school at Sylvia Young Theatre School. At age 14, he left to attend the Church of England’s secondary school Ranelagh School in Bracknell, Berkshire. Hoult played trombone as a child and was a member of the local choir.

Hoult’s acting potential was discovered at age three by a theatre director during a performance of a play that starred Hoult’s brother. The director was impressed at Hoult’s ability to concentrate and offered him a role in his next theatre production The Caucasian Chalk Circle. Hoult began attending auditions and at age five was cast in the 1996 drama Intimate Relations, his first feature-film role. He later appeared in the television programmes CasualtySilent WitnessThe BillJudge John Deed, and Doctors, among others. Hoult initially treated acting as a hobby rather than a potential career option.

Hoult’s next feature-film appearance came at age eleven in Chris and Paul Weitz’s 2002 comedy-drama film About a Boy. Hoult was initially reluctant to audition for the role as the casting process was a lengthy one and interfered with his schooling. He nonetheless 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, [who] gets bullied horribly at school”. By the time the film was released, Hoult had left his junior school in Arborfield and began attending Sylvia Young Theatre School in London. He said the change was difficult; his time there was short and he preferred attending a regular school. He still did not want to pursue acting as a profession and at 14 he left Sylvia Young Theatre School in favour of Ranelagh School.

Hoult starred in Richard E. Grant’s semi-autobiographical film Wah-Wah (2005) as Ralph Compton, a boy who is forced to deal with the disintegration of his family. The film, set in Swaziland during the 1960s, chronicles the waning years of the Swaziland Protectorate. Hoult made his debut in Hollywood with Gore Verbinski’s film The Weather Man (2005) as the son of a television weather presenter undergoing a mid-life crisis.

Hoult was a student at Sixth Form College Farnborough in 2006 when he was cast in the lead role of the television teenage-drama Skins. He was initially sceptical of his ability to play Tony Stonem, a manipulative, egocentric anti-hero, and identified more closely with the supporting character Sid. The programme was a success and ran for seven series, only two of which Hoult appeared in. His performance was well received; the character was popular, and Hoult garnered widespread attention.

During his time on Skins, Hoult felt overwhelmed by the attention he received and considered quitting acting altogether at one point. Instead, he left school at the end of Skins‘ first series and chose to focus solely on acting.

Hoult briefly appeared as Stefan Fredman in the pilot episode of the British television series Wallander. He later made his West End theatre debut as Mark, the protagonist in William Sutcliffe’s coming-of-age play New Boy; the production premiered at Trafalgar Studios and had record-breaking ticket sales, which was mostly attributed to Hoult’s popularity among viewers of Skins. The play was staged for a week in March 2009 because Hoult had committed to a part in the fantasy-adventure film Clash of the Titans (2010), filming for which was scheduled for mid-2010.

Hoult next appeared in Tom Ford’s A Single Man (2009), after the actor originally cast in the role of Kenny Potter left the film a few days before filming commenced. Hoult had previously shown interest in the project and had sent a recorded audition tape; he was eventually chosen for the role of Kenny, a homosexual college student who helps a college professor deal with his grief. A Single Man was variously described by media outlets as the first adult role for Hoult, who described Kenny as a “spontaneous” character not simply defined by his sexuality. Because the role was his first as an American character, Hoult worked on his accent; in 2010, Hoult voiced the character of Elliot in Lionhead Studios’ action role-playing game Fable III (2010).

Hoult was cast as Nux in George Miller’s action film Mad Max: Fury Road; the project spent several years in development hell because plans for a fourth film in the Mad Max franchise encountered financial difficulties. Filming was planned for mid-2010, but heavy rain caused severe delays during pre-production in Australia. 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”. Before filming began on the 2011 Matthew Vaughn-directed instalment X-Men: First Class, a prequel to the franchise’s earlier films, Hoult familiarised himself with his character; he said he “formulated [his] own version of the Beast” and took inspiration from Kelsey Grammer’s performance in the previous X-Men: The Last Stand because he wanted to emulate Grammer’s charm and eloquence. Hoult learned to speak in a dialect similar to Grammer’s without trying to imitate it. He also underwent physical training and gained weight to better suit his character.

Mad Max: Fury Road was eventually filmed in 2012 in the Namibian desert. Hoult shaved his head and followed a strict diet because his role required him to lose a lot of weight. He also talked about performing stunts in the film, describing the entire experience as “scary”, but favourably compared the stunt crew and Miller’s choice to incorporate real action sequences instead of using a green screen, saying it made the performance more believable because the actors are placed in a real situation.

In 2013, Hoult had starring roles in two major films; he first played a zombie named R in Jonathan Levine’s romantic comedy Warm Bodies, which was released on 1 February. 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 he had difficulties finding a suitable actor to play R until he met Hoult, who was attracted to the project—which he described as “much more than a horror movie” owing to the use of multiple pop culture and literary allusions. Hoult said he drew inspiration from Edward Scissorhands (1990) because he thought the central characters in both films share the same difficulties. To prepare for the role of a zombie, Hoult and the other actors practised with Cirque du Soleil performers.

In Hoult’s next film, Bryan Singer’s 2013 fantasy adventure Jack the Giant Slayer, he played the eponymous hero in the film, which is based on the British fairy tales “Jack the Giant Killer” and “Jack and the Beanstalk”.

Hoult then appeared in Jake Paltrow’s science-fiction film Young Ones (2014). Set in a dystopian future where water is scarce, the film had Hoult play Flem Lever, a young man who is trying to claim the land owned by the film’s central character Ernest Holm. Hoult thought the role was unlike any of his previous work and said his character’s questionable choices throughout the film intrigued him. Hoult 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 filming in the hot weather conditions was difficult but the “beautiful” scenery helped to tell the story better. He said it also made him more conscious of environmental concerns. The film premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

Hoult reprised his role as Beast in Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, his other release of 2014.

In 2015, Hoult had three other releases—the feature film adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s mystery novel Dark Places; Owen Harris’ dark comedy Kill Your Friends, based on the 2008 novel of the same name; and Equals, a dystopian, science-fiction romantic drama directed by Drake Doremus. Despite doubts about his contract with the franchise, Hoult returned for the 2016 film X-Men: Apocalypse.

The action film Collide, which had Hoult star as a drug dealer, was released in the United States in February 2017 to a poor response from audiences and critics. Responses to Hoult’s next film, the romance drama Newness, were more enthusiastic. The production had its world premiere at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival; it stars Hoult as one half of a Los Angeles-based couple who meet through online dating and begin an open relationship.

Hoult starred in a series of biographical and historical films in 2017; he said he preferred playing characters that might help him improve as an actor. He portrayed American author J. D. Salinger in Danny Strong’s Rebel in the Rye, which chronicles Salinger’s life from his youth to the World War II era and the years preceding the publication of his debut novel, The Catcher in the Rye. Hoult auditioned for the role because he was intrigued by the film’s script and Salinger’s enigmatic personality.

Hoult co-starred in The Current War, a dramatization of the feud between electrical pioneers Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse. Hoult was cast in the role of Nikola Tesla, for which he grew a moustache and attended science lessons about electromagnetism and dynamos. He lost weight for his role by following a strict diet. In a departure from biographical dramas, Hoult next starred as an American soldier in Sand Castle, a production he described as a very different war film in terms of the pacing and the emotion.

In The Favourite (2018), a critically acclaimed period drama about Anne, Queen of Great Britain, Hoult played the supporting role of Robert Harley, 1st Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer. He next voiced Fiver in the animated television miniseries adaptation of Richard Adams’ 1972 novel Watership Down. In 2019, Hoult portrayed author J. R. R. Tolkien in the biopic Tolkien. He next reprised his role as Hank McCoy in the X-Men film Dark Phoenix. The following year, Hoult starred as Peter III of Russia in the Hulu comedy-drama series The Great. In 2021, his production company, Dead Duck Films, signed a first look deal with Civic Center Media and MRC Television. In October 2022, it was reported that Hoult was in talks to star in Robert Eggers’ remake of Nosferatu.

Hoult is a philanthropist and supports numerous charities; he has been associated with organizations that support children. He was appointed the first National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) Young Person Ambassador, for supporting the charity’s activities aimed at children and young people. Since 2009, he has also been involved with the Teenage Cancer Trust; he continues to visit patients supported by the organisation and has helped promote its awareness campaigns, including the sun-safety campaign “Shunburn”. Hoult designed sweaters for Save the Children’s and Selfish Mother’s joint Christmas Jumper Day campaign. He encouraged customers to buy the festive collection and support the charitable cause, which he thought would bring a real change to children’s lives”. He also donated a pair of shoes, which was auctioned by Small Steps Project, an organization that helps homeless and malnourished children. Hoult was inducted into the NSPCC Hall of Fame in 2010 for his contributions to the campaign against child cruelty.

Hoult visited Nairobi, Kenya, as a part of a Christian Aid project aimed at providing clean water and sanitation. During his stay he met local people and helped clean the locality. Hoult also participated in the Rickshaw Run in January 2017, in which participants drove an auto rickshaw (also called a tuk tuk) for 3,000 kilometres (1,900 mi) across India to raise funds for Teenage Cancer Trust and World Wide Fund for Nature. He has also been associated with Jeans for Refugees, a project and fundraising initiative intended to help refugees around the world. He donated a signed pair of jeans to the organization; profits from the campaign were donated to the refugee support agency International Rescue Committee.