Nicholas Hoult's Life From Childhood To Hollywood

Nicholas Hoult has been in the entertainment business for nearly his entire life. He's been in romcoms and blockbusters, led the casts of action movies and sci-fi films, and he's just as at home on television as he is on the big screen. He's played icons like J.D. Salinger and J.R.R. Tolkien, and he's created original, instantly-iconic fictional characters, too. Having such a varied, expansive career already in the books means that people are sometimes surprised to find out he was born in 1989. "People think I'm older than I am. I'm not that old yet!" he told The Evening Standard. "I've just been kicking around a long time."

"I love Nicholas," director and fashion designer Tom Ford told The Guardian, after Hoult starred in his film "A Single Man." Ford was particularly impressed by Hoult's dedication to his work. "I guess that's from being a child actor, where you have to be disciplined from such an early age," he supposed. In 2011, Ford predicted that Hoult might become a bona fide star, and his prediction has certainly come true. From his time on "Skins" to his role on "The Great," read on to learn about Nicholas Hoult's life from child stardom to Hollywood leading man.

He was discovered as a child

Nicholas Hoult was born in December 1989 to a pilot and a piano teacher. His father's occupation meant he was away from the home for long periods of time. "I was raised by my mum and my sisters," Hoult told Elle.

As it turns out, Hoult is also related to Dame Anna Neagle, one of the most famous British actors of the 1930s. Perhaps it was fitting, then, that Hoult was scouted by a director at only three years old. He and his family were attending a play, and the director noted young Hoult's intense concentration. She guessed that Hoult could probably act in a play if he could watch one, and a future star was born.

The play led to more opportunities, such as roles in films like "Intimate Relations" and TV guest spots on shows like "Casualty." Looking back now, Hoult is surprised that he was able to concentrate on those early roles. He mused on "The Late Late Show with James Corden," "I'm not sure entirely if I was very good — probably not — or it was the best thing I ever did, and it's all been downhill since then." 

He was cast opposite Hugh Grant in About a Boy

At age 11, Nicholas Hoult won his biggest role yet: Marcus Brewer in "About a Boy." The film is about an aimless man who takes a young boy under his wing, using him as an excuse to get close to single moms. As the titular boy, Hoult spent a lot of screen time acting opposite Hugh Grant, and he made a fan out of the much older actor. "[He's] given a performance of genius, really," Grant told E! News. "He's annoyingly good in the film."

Hoult's performance in the movie wasn't just well-received by his co-stars; critics enjoyed his work, too. The film netted him nominations for a Young Artist Award as well as a Critic's Choice Award for Best Young Actor by the Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards.

He remembers being nervous about being a child actor, wondering if he would burn out too soon. "For me, growing up, it was hard to have people say, 'Oh, you're a child actor, you know what that could potentially do to you?'" he later recalled to The Guardian. "It does give you a little anxiety. But it's also probably good to be aware of that."

He broke out as Tony on Skins

After "About a Boy," Nicholas Hoult's next big role was on the hit teen drama "Skins." He starred as Tony Stonem, a womanizing character he couldn't relate to. "I find it really difficult because, you know, I've never been the alpha male leader of the group," he told the BBC. "Cockiness was something in my household which is severely frowned upon. It was completely different to me."

The series was controversial thanks to its raw depiction of teenage sexuality and drug-taking. Hoult defended the show's subject matter in The Guardian, insisting, "That stuff's in there because it's a part of teenage life. Anybody who has a problem with 'Skins' obviously doesn't understand teenage life." However, looking back years later on what it was like to film some of the show's racier bits, Hoult said there were no intimacy coordinators on set. "Back then you're a kid doing a job ... it's also a weird position to be put in," he recalled to GQ. "Not that they were bad experiences or anything ... [but] a lot of acting is pretty terrifying."

The series catapulted Hoult to new levels of fame, but he admitted that he didn't really enjoy the attention. During one incident, while he waited to pick up his sister at school, his car was surrounded by people looking in the windows at him. He told The Guardian, "I'd always had two lives before ['Skins'] — acting and the real world — and it all bled together."

He has a tendency to lie in interviews

Though he enjoys acting, Nicholas Hoult is not a fan of another aspect of his job: promoting his work in interviews. Like Robert Pattinson, Hoult has a tendency to make things up while speaking with the press. This pastime began while he was on "Skins." Heading into the second season, he decided to tease fans with some completely made-up plot details about what would happen to his character. "I was doing an interview and I was asked what was happening in the new series of 'Skins,'" he confessed to the Mirror. "I said that, because of the success of Heroes, all the characters have been made into superheroes." That was not true.

He expanded on his dislike of interviews while speaking with The Guardian. "I've realized why I don't tell the truth in interviews," he confessed. "It's because they're printed months later, and you change so quickly — you have new thoughts, new everything — so people are reading an old version of you." Years later, he told GQ that he had softened on the concept of interviews. "I guess it's quite a scary situation, in that it's kind of out of your control," he reflected, adding that he was now more willing to open up.

He moved on to more adult roles in A Single Man

After leaving "Skins," Nicholas Hoult was cast in designer Tom Ford's debut, "A Single Man." He was cast two weeks before shooting, after another actor left, according to an interview with Tribeca Film. "I came out, I met Tom, I had dinner, and then it was like, get a visa, get spray-tanned, cut my hair, work on the American accent: shoot! Go!" he recalled.

Hoult plays a college student who catches the eye of a closeted, gay, grieving professor (Colin Firth). His work on the film impressed its director, who told The Guardian that the star even insisted on working while injured. "Nick performs in a way that seems effortless, subtle and honest. He has a maturity and depth that are remarkable," Ford said. Befitting of a film directed by a fashion designer, Hoult told Vulture that the pink sweater he wears in much of the film required constant maintenance on set. "It definitely had a life of its own," he said. "It got a lot more attention than me, most of the time, whereby it would frizz up under the hot lights and need to be hair-sprayed down."

Thanks to his role in the film, Hoult was nominated for a BAFTA Rising Star Award. He remained humble about the nod, telling BBC Newsbeat (via DigitalSpy), "It was a big surprise .... I don't really feel as though I'm in a position to be nominated for it particularly... It feels fantastic."

He dated Jennifer Lawrence

Nicholas Hoult and Jennifer Lawrence met on the set of "X-Men: First Class," a prequel to the hit superhero series. Hoult played The Beast, a hairy blue monster, while Lawrence starred as Mystique, a scaly blue shapeshifter. Their relationship was, in part, built on keeping each other happy. "He's my favorite person to be around and makes me laugh harder than anybody," Lawrence told Elle, describing a date night eating Cheetos together and watching women's volleyball. "The "Hunger Games" star also joked that her boyfriend disliked the way she smelled after filming, because she used shaving cream to remove her blue makeup. "It is really good for taking paint off, but Nic used to hate it because I would come home smelling like a man," she told Extra after they'd broken up. 

While they were together, their relationship made headlines when nude photos of Lawrence were leaked online after her iCloud was hacked. Lawrence called it a "sex crime," and Hoult was asked about the situation when he appeared on Good Day New York (via ET). "It's shocking that things like that happen in the world," he said. "It's a shame."

E! News announced Hoult and Lawrence's split in 2014. "They spent a lot of time apart because of work, and it was difficult on their relationship," a source told the outlet. Regardless, they remained friendly, even continuing to star together in several more "X-Men" movies. 

He dabbles in voice acting

In 2010, Nicholas Hoult expanded into a new area of acting, becoming a voice actor for a video game called "Fable III." The cast was star-studded, including actors like Ben Kingsley, Stephen Fry, and Michael Fassbender. Hoult's character in the game is named Elliot, and he described Elliot in a behind-the-scenes interview for IGN. "He's a very genuine, kind man who is kind of the moral barometer for the female hero. Not a great fighter," he added. "Pretty useless. And, gets in a lot of trouble."

Hoult later went on to play Fiver in an animated series adaptation of "Watership Down," co-produced by both the BBC and Netflix. In the series, his character — a rabbit — experiences horrific visions of something terrible happening to the warren. He worked alongside his "X-Men" co-star James McAvoy, voicing McAvoy's character's younger brother. He claimed to the BBC that the role took a lot of preparation, joking, "I lived in a hutch for five weeks to prepare for this role. I've only been eating carrots — I can see in the dark very well."

The "Tolkien" star continues to put his vocal talent to use. It's been confirmed that Hoult will star in an upcoming animated "Garfield" film, playing an as-yet undisclosed character. The film will be released in 2024.

His iconic Mad Max: Fury Road lines

In one of Nicholas Hoult's most famous roles, he played Nux the War Boy in George Miller's "Mad Max: Fury Road." Nux is a devotee of Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), an evil overlord who controls the desert's water supply. He becomes mixed up in a daring escape orchestrated by Furiosa (Charlize Theron) and Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy), at first trying to sabotage them but later joining them in overthrowing the oppressor. Hoult got to utter some of the movie's most infamous, quotable, memeable lines: "Oh, what a day! What a lovely, lovely day!" and "Witness me!"

The role required the actor to undergo quite the transformation. Nux is incredibly ill, his lips shrunken and his skin ultra-pale, and Hoult dropped a lot of weight to look malnourished. He told GQ, "For a couple of months ... I'd just run and jump rope and not eat very much. I think I managed to lose 20 lbs for that film... I was very skinny for that."

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Nicholas Hoult became a dad

Unlike the time he dated Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult's relationship with model Bryana Holly has remained relatively under wraps. Their life together was so secret, in fact, that no one knew Holly was pregnant until after she'd given birth to their child. A source broke the news to People in 2018, even though Hoult himself hadn't released a statement. "They have kept the news under wraps, but are so happy and excited," the source said.

Hoult told The Evening Standard that he was keeping the baby's gender a secret for as long as he could, though he later went public with the fact that he'd had a son who they'd named Joaquin. He also admitted that he found himself talking quickly in interviews so he could get home to his child. Asked about his future plans, Hoult said, "Fatherhood is the main thing. Yeah. That. I'm going to do a hell of a lot of that."

Speaking on "The Late Late Show with James Corden" toward the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown, Hoult revealed that he was enjoying getting to have extra time with his son. "[Fatherhood] makes you play again, which I'm really enjoying. Particularly with this time, with everything shut down and not having to work ... I'm just playing trains all day. It's great."

The Favourite made him appreciate his queer fans

In 2018, Nicholas Hoult starred in Yorgos Lanthimos' Best Picture nominee "The Favourite." In the film, Hoult plays the fabulously bewigged Harley, a thorn in the side of Queen Anne (Olivia Colman). "I fell in love with him as a character," Hoult told Gold Derby. "He's very manipulative, smart and cruel, but also makes sense ... using all the pieces and people he can to get the results he wants politically." 

A lot of the characters in "The Favourite" are portrayed as queer, including the central triangle between the Queen and two suitors played by Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone. While Harley is straight but effeminate, Hoult has played queer characters before, especially in "Skins" and "A Single Man." After "The Favourite" was released, the "Warm Bodies" star spoke about his relationship to his queer fans with Q Salt Lake. "I'm just telling stories that I like and then playing characters that I'm interested in," he insisted. "When I'm making things I'm not picking depending on the audience, but that's really nice of you to say that I've got [a gay] following. That's lovely."

He's committed to gender equality

When Nicholas Hoult starred opposite Kristen Stewart in the 2016 sci-fi film "Equals," reviews such as the one in the Detroit Free Press noted that both stars have a certain "androgynous beauty." This is a concept that has cropped up again and again throughout Hoult's career; in interviews, he has often talked about being raised by women and having a unique perspective on the world because of it. He told the Evening Standard that this makes him treat women differently than some of his peers. "Hopefully being in touch with your feminine side makes you more understanding of what it's like to be female," he posited. "I think we could all try and have a little more empathy now and then."

He went a step further while speaking with Mr. Porter. Hoult claimed that the majority of his friends are women, and that he's able to have different, more in-depth conversations with them than with his male friends. "I feel, more and more with everything that's going on in the news at the moment, a responsibility to pay more attention, to be aware of those things and to change them," he said, "because that's not how I want the world to be."

That being said, Hoult isn't interested in being anyone's role model. "People shouldn't look up to me," he told The Guardian. "Everyone's got to make their own mistakes and do their own thing."

He returned to TV in The Great

After leaving "Skins," Nicholas Hoult spent the following decade working almost exclusively in films. In 2020, however, he returned to television with a starring role in the Hulu series "The Great." The show was created by playwright Tony McNamara, who wrote the screenplay for "The Favourite." McNamara told Indiewire, "We get on great and we really sort of get ... what we're trying to do, and how we do it. It's a really good partnership."

On the show, Hoult plays Peter III, Emperor of Russia and husband to Catherine the Great (Elle Fanning). He told The Guardian that at first, he attempted to act the show in a Russian accent. Instead, he scrapped the idea and found something different for the character, making the Russian speak like a British dandy. "I don't go the full public schoolboy, but I'm very posh — educated but childish," he said.

He was nominated for an Emmy for the role, and he told The Hollywood Reporter, "It's a great honor." Fanning was nominated, too, and Hoult actually broke the news to his co-star about her nod. He recalled to W, "I screamed congrats. She was like, 'Wait, what?' And I was like, 'You're nominated!' Then we both just screamed down the phone at each other for a second."

He loves cars and motorcycles

Nicholas Hoult has a hobby: he loves cars and motorcycles. He told Indian Motorcycle, who gave him a custom bike designed after his character in "Mad Max Fury Road," that his love of cars has been around for a while. "I've always been interested, mechanically, in things. My dad used to build cars and things, so that's always been a part of my life." He rode motorcycles in both "Mad Max" and a film called "The Young Ones," and his interest grew from there. He added that he now primarily rides a motorcycle around both LA and London as his primary mode of transportation.

Car-wise, Hoult has a specific love of Ferraris. Hoult first rode in one while he was filming "About a Boy." He recalled to Ferrari, "It was a surreal experience, taking-in that incredible car and dreaming about what the future might hold for me. I suppose you could say I was hooked." Now that he's an adult, Hoult has trained to be a Ferrari racer. In an Instagram post from 2020, he wrote, "it was a dream come true to experience the Corso Pilota with @ferrariusa and begin my racing journey." 

His completion of training meant that he was able to drive a 488 Challenge Evo, an exclusive-model Ferrari with a staggering 670 horsepower, twin-turbocharged engine that the manufacturer only allows to be driven on supervised tracks. "This is so much fun it's ridiculous," he exclaimed to Vanity Fair.

The Menu was the perfect horror film for him

In the 2022 horror-comedy "The Menu," Nicholas Hoult plays Tyler, a foodie who brings a girl named Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy) to a date at an exclusive restaurant. During dinner, they begin to realize that something more nefarious is at play, threatening Tyler's planned night of fabulously pretentious eats. Behind the scenes, the cast seemingly enjoyed the benefits of filming a movie that takes place almost entirely within a restaurant. In an appearance on "Live with Kelly and Ryan" (via People), Taylor-Joy teased Hoult for eating so much bread on set — after every take. She added, "I call it bread gate. He ate so much — I'm talking about the weight of a small whale in terms of bread, just every take. I was like, 'Oh, he's not going to make it.'"

Hoult told The Gamer that he wasn't interested in acting in a traditional horror movie, because he didn't want to have to pretend to be scared. His character in "The Menu," though, is different. He explained, "That was a fun thing for me to tap into, because there are these horrendous things happening in this restaurant, and he's still just so focused on his meal and enjoying himself. That was a fun, counterintuitive thing to play, an opposite of the normal choice." His choice of projects worked out; as of this writing, "The Menu" has received rave reviews by fans and critics alike.