Though it’s been 14 years since About a Boy, for some of us Nicholas Hoult will forever be sweet and strange Marcus Brewer. Though not quite Hoult’s first film role (he was a supporting actor in 1996’s Intimate Relations), About a Boy stands the test of time reasonably well, especially Hoult’s performance. As an audience we were introduced to an intense young actor that could handle adult comedy and had some very iconic eyebrows. However before anyone could typecast Hoult as a nerd, he became the laddy Tony Stonem in the first two series of Skins.
This shift was very important in that it showed a different side to Hoult; he could be a love interest, he could play someone cocky and devious. Hoult managed to complete a very swift shift from child actor to adult actor before anyone could even speculate if he was good enough to make the jump. This lack of cohesion in-between roles is something of a trend for Hoult, and has made him an interesting actor to follow.
Though some of his films might not have been well received as a whole, Hoult’s acting choices suggest someone willing to have a stab at anything. To go from a sober and measured film like A Single Man to an unwieldy blockbuster like Clash of the Titans is definitely a leap, but it gives Hoult the chance to show what he can do, as well as keep him in both the independent and blockbuster markets.
Easily written off as ‘just-another-teen-movie’, Warm Bodies offered a chance for Hoult to act with minimal dialogue. There are moments in that film, admittedly helped with a snappy bit of voiceover, where Hoult conveys a stunning amount of emotion considering he plays a zombie. Though the film needed to be tighter to have a chance at any kind of critical acclaim, Hoult was nominated for three Teen-Choice awards. They might not be Oscars but it does indicate how well Hoult is quietly cracking America.
Thanks to his versatility, Hoult is building a fanbase in lots of different demographics. Though whether this is a tactical move or not is very debatable, it makes a lot of sense for a young actor, the more he can target a particular audience the more likely he’ll be employed. That said it feels like Hoult needs to focus on a particular genre or get a more iconic role before he becomes a household name, if of course that’s what he is after.
It seems that Hoult might be able to follow in the footsteps of Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddleston as another charming, slightly odd-looking, English film star. At the moment what Hoult is missing is an iconic lead role – he needs a Sherlock or a Loki. However that is a few steps away as Hoult is still spending a good chunk of his time being a supporting actor.
Mad Max: Fury Road and the X-Men franchise have given Hoult the chance to shine in action blockbusters, making a big impact as part of an ensemble. Though supporting acting understandably gets less of the spotlight than lead roles, it’s a great chance for an actor to show they can still convey a three-dimensional character with limited screen time. Hoult has proven he is up to the challenge, especially in Fury Road where he portrays a brainwashed young man who switches sides and joins the heroes, Max and Furiosa.
With starring roles in three of the four films he’s featuring in this year, 2016 could be the year where Hoult moves away from supporting acting. The 20th of April will see the release of Collide, a petrol-fuelled action film with Hoult at its centre. Starring alongside Antony Hopkins and Felicity Jones, Hoult is in very good company. Also released this year is Drake Doremus’s Equals, for which Doremus specifically sought out Hoult as his male lead. And then in 2017 there’s the small matter of The Death and Life of John F. Donovan, the latest film from Canadian wunderkind Xavier Dolan, in which Hoult appears with Jessica Chastain, Natalie Portman and, er, Adele. Follow that with a role as American icon J.D. Salinger in Danny Strong’s feature debut Rebel in the Rye and you’ve got a recipe for a great career.
The world seems to really be Hoult’s oyster; he is working with all the right people and enjoying a broad range of roles. Whether he pursues super-stardom or a more diverse career, he has constructed a base from which he could do either.