Nicholas Hoult of ‘About a Boy’ plays a zombie in love in ‘Warm Bodies’
BY CINDY PEARLMAN January 24, 2013 8:30PM
(L to R) ANALEIGH TIPTON; NICHOLAS HOULT and TERESA PALMER star in WARM BODIES Ph: Jan Thijs © 2012 Summit Entertainment, LLC. All rights reserved.
Updated: February 28, 2013 6:34AM
LOS ANGELES — Nicholas Hoult insists that he’s not an expert on love.
Though, he has dated Jennifer Lawrence, that doesn’t mean the native of England has much dating advice, beyond one little tidbit.
“Guys struggle to talk to girls during the best of times,” says the 23-year-old with searing blue eyes. “In my new movie, I play a zombie. He’s rotting away and the living girl he loves is terrified of him.
“He can’t talk to this girl at all under these zombie-fied conditions. I think many guys will identify with this feeling in general — even if you’re not a zombie.”
“Warm Bodies,” the zombie movie based on the best seller by Isaac Marion, opens Friday. It’s one of his slew of upcoming movies, including Bryan Singer’s “Jack the Giant Slayer” out in March.
He also stars in “Mad Max: Fury Road” and will be reprising his role of Hank McCoy/Beast on “X-Men: Days of Future Past.” Both are due in 2014.
In “Warm Bodies,” he plays R, a teenage zombie who falls in love with Julie (Teresa Palmer). Fans of the book know that R and J sub for Romeo and Juliet, star-crossed lovers whose worlds collide.
This has a strange twist.
He has eaten her living boyfriend (Dave Franco), including his brains, so he also has been infused with her former squeeze’s love for her. Her father, Gen. Grigio (John Malkovich), isn’t exactly thrilled that his daughter is fraternizing with a zombie.
What did he think about to get that blank zombie stare? “I’d sit there and zone out thinking about lunch,” he admits.
Hoult made his first splash as a preteen mentored by a reluctant layabout (Hugh Grant) in “About a Boy” (2002), but that’s not what caught the eye of “Bodies” director Jonathan Levine. “I remembered him from the British version of ‘Skins,’ ” Levine said, referring to the explicit British teen TV series.
“I cast him because he was so sympathetic and so much was going on behind his eyes. He’s also a really good-looking guy.”
Hoult’s audition was a bit strange. Levine says, “He came over to my house and said, ‘I guess I’m going to be a zombie now.’ He just started grunting and he was incredible.”
How does one go about playing a zombie in love? “There were phases,” Hoult says. “One day I was more human, and the next day I was super zombie.
“On the scale, I was told, ‘This is the most zombie I can be and this is the least zombie.’ ”
Finding the physical gait of his zombie was another challenge. “There was a rocky way that he stumbled around. I watched all sort of ‘Dawn of the Dead’ and ‘Night of the Dead’ movies, plus several ’80s movies. I also loved ‘Zombieland’ and ‘Edward Scissorhands,’ ” he says. “I’d be in the gym on the treadmill. I’d run a zombie movie.”
He was also a bit of a zombie jokester. “There’s a scene where I take Julie back to this plane hull where I’m living. She’s sleeping. When she opened her eye, I had a naughty magazine in my hands that I actually found near the prop guys,” he says, laughing. “I also got a fake tattoo of our director’s face on my arm.
“I have a shower scene in the film,” he says. “He called action and I turned around. The camera boys panned around to my arm and I gave the tattoo a little kiss. It made everybody laugh.”
A native of England, Hoult studied at the Sylvia Young Theatre School, a prestigious school in London.
“I started acting at 5. My role required me to sit under a table and eat cake. It was a great job,” he says.
Now he’s grown up to being in “Mad Max” movie and calls it “a boy dream. The landscape of the movie is fantastic, and George Miller is one of my favorite directors.
“It takes place after ‘Thunderdome,’ ” he says. “I play a guy called Knux who is a driver and young warrior.”
Hoult reportedly starting dating Jennifer Lawrence in 2010, and recent gossip says they broke up. If the relationship is still on — and he’s not saying — it’s long-distance, because Hoult lives across the pond. “I have no plans to move to the States. As an actor, you end up all over the world anyways.
“I like to go back to England,” he says. “It keeps me sane.”
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