Warm Bod­ies ac­tor set to go vi­ral

Ni­cholas Hoult also to star in Jack the Gi­ant Slayer, Mad Max re­boot and X-Men se­quel

Ottawa Citizen - - ARTS&LIFE - BOB THOMPSON

Ni­cholas Hoult was no­table, but now he’s on the verge of be­com­ing un­for­get­table. “I have had some really cool jobs,” ad­mit­ted the 23-year-old Lon­don­based ac­tor smil­ing at his un­der­state­ment dur­ing a Toronto in­ter­view.

For in­stance, Hoult plays Jack in the spe­cial ef­fects ac­tion fan­tasy Jack the Gi­ant Slayer, out in March. He has a co-star­ring part in the much an­tic­i­pated Ge­orge Miller re­boot, Mad Max: Fury Road, set for re­lease next year. And he’s pre­par­ing to bring his Beast back to the big screen in the se­quel, X-Men: Days of Fu­ture Past, which will be­gin film­ing later in the year.

Soon, he’ll be mak­ing a name for him­self as R, the mis­un­der­stood zom­bie in the droll thriller Warm Bod­ies, which opens Feb. 1.

Call th­ese coming at­trac­tions Phase 2 of his young ca­reer af­ter in­tro­duc­ing him­self by por­tray­ing the waif in About a Boy fol­lowed by the rebel teen role in the ac­claimed Brit TV se­ries, Skins.

As oc­cu­pa­tional haz­ards would have it, Hoult was also fa­mously dat­ing re­cent Os­car nom­i­nee and X-Men: First Class co-star Jen­nifer Lawrence be­fore the cou­ple split re­cently.

Mean­while, back at Warm Bod­ies, Hoult’s R is an un­dead lost boy wan­der­ing around a post-apoc­a­lyp­tic Amer­ica left in ruin af­ter a dec­i­mat­ing plague wipes out most of the world’s pop­u­la­tion.

Things change for R when he con­sumes the brain of an un­for­tu­nate hu­man teen and be­gins to fall for the dead kid’s girl­friend, Julie (Teresa Palmer), whom he even­tu­ally saves from a pack of zom­bies.

As their re­la­tion­ship gets closer, R starts to trans­form into a more hu­man form set­ting off a se­ries of con­fronta­tional events be­tween the last hu­man set­tle­ment and some ex­treme zom­bie hordes.

Round­ing out the cast is Rob Corddry as R’s grunt­ing un­dead friend M. John Malkovich is the hu­man girl’s pro­tec­tive dad and tribal leader while Analeigh Tip­ton is Julie’s best friend.

Based on the pop­u­lar Isaac Mar­ion young adult novel, the Jonathan Levine movie ver­sion at­tempts to present a del­i­cate bal­ance of hu­mour and hor­ror. And that’s ex­actly why Hoult grav­i­tated to the Levine script.

“I liked the char­ac­ter, and the screen­play made me laugh, and I thought it was well writ­ten and moved along at a good pace,” said Hoult. “It had some se­ri­ous is­sues, but it makes them light, and the movie doesn’t take it­self too se­ri­ously.”

Cer­tainly, the com­e­dy­drama ap­proach is dif­fi­cult to pull off. “I knew it was go­ing to be tricky, but I trusted ev­ery­body in­volved and es­pe­cially the di­rec­tor,” he said of Levine, who worked the same sto­ry­telling magic with his pre­vi­ous films, The Wack­ness and 50/50.

De­spite the com­pli­ca­tions of Warm Bod­ies, Hoult re­fused to over-think his por­trayal of the zom­bie who starts fall­ing in love while show­ing all the hu­man awk­ward­ness that ac­com­pa­nies the emo­tion.

“I think ev­ery boy knows the ex­pe­ri­ence of want­ing to talk to a girl and not know­ing what to say,” said Hoult. “And not only can R not re­mem­ber words but he’s also dead, so it’s a real predica­ment he’s got him­self in.”

For ref­er­enc­ing, Levine had the Warm Bod­ies cast screen the hard­core Dawn of the Dead and Night of the Dead, and the more styl­ized Zom­bieland and Shaun of the Dead. Hoult even watched Johnny Depp’s Ed­ward Scis­sorhands to re­call the per­for­mance defin­ing ghoul­ish in­no­cence.

Gen­er­ally, though, he played his zom­bie hero as it was writ­ten.

“I left the grander schemes of the script up to the di­rec­tor be­cause there’s a lot to be said for be­ing in the moment,” he said. “I didn’t want to be­come ma­nip­u­la­tive.”

Af­ter Warm Bod­ies, he’s ven­tur­ing into big­ger bud­geted genre ac­tiv­ity.

There is Jack the Gi­ant Slayer. “It’s a big fam­ily swash­buck­ling ad­ven­ture,” he said of the per­for­mance-cap­ture epic. “I play Jack, the farm boy try­ing to save the princess in the land where the giants live in the sky.”

In the fourth Mad Max flick, Hoult plays Mad Max’s war­rior side­kick Nux, liv­ing in a dif­fer­ent sort of post-apoc­a­lyp­tic world com­pared to Warm Bod­ies.

“But I wear a lot of makeup again,” said Hoult. “It’s kind of be­com­ing a habit of mine, like I’m the king of eye­shadow.”

Still, he said be­ing in­volved in Mad Max was worth its many de­lays.

“It’s been a long time coming,” he said of the new Mad Max star­ring Tom Hardy. “But it was worth it — par­tic­u­larly when they put you in the (Mad Max) ve­hi­cles, and you get to rev the V-8 en­gines and drive them around, and then blow stuff up.”

Mean­while, X-Men: Days of Fu­ture Past is sched­uled to be­gin film­ing later in the spring and will in­clude an ap­pear­ance by Hugh Jack­man’s Wolver­ine.

“I don’t know too much about any of that, but ev­ery­body seems ex­cited by the prospect,” Hoult said.

So, what is the laid-back ac­tor ex­cited about? “I like mak­ing dif­fer­ent choices, and I think I have,” he said. “It’s fun to take risks.”


Warm Bod­ies star Ni­cholas Hoult plays an un­dead lost boy wan­der­ing around a post-apoc­a­lyp­tic Amer­ica.

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