Nicholas Hoult disappears into ‘Mad Max’ role | Inquirer Entertainment
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Nicholas Hoult disappears into ‘Mad Max’ role

By: - Columnist
/ 04:41 AM May 09, 2015

HOULT. Completes his transition into an adult actor—and a fine one—in “Fury Road.” photo by ruben nepales

HOULT. Completes his transition into an adult actor—and a fine one—in “Fury Road.” photo by ruben nepales

LOS ANGELES—Nicholas Hoult, who many still fondly remember as the awkward kid who teaches life lessons to Hugh Grant’s character in “About a Boy,” completes his transition into an adult actor—and a fine one—in George Miller’s “Mad Max: Fury Road.” The British actor disappears into Nux, one of the War Boys in the stunning film, thanks to makeup and the gung ho way he throws himself into the role.

It’s a credit to Nicholas, now 23, that we only realized he was Nux almost midway into the movie. He’s bald, face made up to look like a skull, his body in white paint and his character’s hot rod and a V-8 engine block “scarified” on his chest. He belongs to the pack of marauding War Boys of a tyrant, Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), who captures Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy).


Max’s attempts to flee with a female warrior, Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), instigate the high-octane Road War that revs up George’s excellent installment in his franchise.


Think of Nicholas’ Nux as an optimistic The Joker who gleefully shouts, “What a lovely day!,” amid the bloody carnage, violent car and truck chases across the bleak, toxic wasteland four decades after the world has collapsed. Nicholas noted the irony in Nux’s positive attitude even when he’s experiencing “hell on earth,” and that the War Boy is actually ill in this poisonous landscape.


Nicholas is grateful for the makeup that enhances his performance—his work here and that of Charlize, Tom and the rest of the cast elevate “Fury Road.”

“That’s always the thing with any character—you always want to disappear into it so people watching don’t think about whatever they might know about you as a person,” said Nicholas, who has grown into a towering 6’3” tall man. But, those blue eyes remain expressive and remind us about the boy actor. He looked preppy in a taupe crewneck, white tee underneath, black pants and boots.

“Makeup is a great addition to that because the main thing is that you see how people react to you differently (with makeup on),” he said in this morning chat at the Siren Studios on Sunset Boulevard in LA. He left after the interview to watch in person the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight in Las Vegas.

“Mostly, you feel the same all the time on the inside, but makeup makes certain parts of your personality slightly larger,” he added. “But, even just having a shaved head and walking around at home makes people react slightly different to you.


“Physically, my character is meant to be very sick in the film. Also, there is not meant to be a lot of food around, so George was like, ‘If you could lose some weight, that would be great’ (laughs). I wouldn’t eat much and spent a lot of time jumping rope.”

Nicholas’ makeup took two hours every day, so he envied Charlize who, he said, “was a lot smarter. She would turn up, get some black greasepaint, smear it on her forehead and be done in five minutes. She would walk out of the makeup trailer, and I would still be there, thinking, damn, I have been here for hours already.”

What adds to the thrill in watching “Fury Road” is the virtual absence of CGI. The spectacular action scenes are for real, but very dangerous for the cast and stuntmen.

“It was scary at times,” admitted the actor. “We were lucky—we had a very skilled stunt team who put us in situations where normally we wouldn’t feel safe. But, they made you feel very safe, and there were a lot of times before the shoot that we could actually rehearse things on the set.”

Before one take, Nicholas was casually reminded to be careful in his moves or else he might be decapitated. “There were very strange moments,” said the British actor, who plays Hank McCoy/Beast in the “X-Men” franchise.

“I would be hanging underneath a truck, a war rig upside down,” he recalled. “When you rehearsed it, you got a helmet on and all these pads. I remember the only thing that one of the stunt guys said to me before rehearsing that stunt was, ‘Nic, don’t move your head too far back, because the front wheel is just there. It will take your head off.’ I was like, ‘OK, good to remember. Thanks very much for that.’


“There were lots of crashes. I got trucks driven into the back of my car a few times. When the stunt team says, ‘OK, we’re going to hit this truck here,’ it’s like perfect, they know what they’re doing. On the first take, it was fine, like a gentle little tap, nothing to talk about.

“Then, they were like, ‘Nic. We are going to do it a little faster.’ I was like, ‘Cool.’ Then ready, roll cameras. I am shooting with Charlize. I turn around and see this truck just barrelling down. I am in my little hot rod, this little car. The truck thumps into the back. I get jerked around and tweaked my neck. I got whiplash. It was like, ‘Nic, are you OK?’ I was like, ‘Yep! (laughs). Still fine, still breathing.’”

The actor, who was discovered at the age of 3 by a theater director, pointed out with a smile, “It’s fun—all those things about why you want to do a film. The fact that they allowed us to get into those positions and shoot it for real, you feel lucky. But, you can probably see some real fear (on my face) in there.

“When you are acting in a scene, you kind of forget your mortality. Before they would call action, all the engines would roar. You couldn’t hear a thing. Your blood would start pumping. You got filled with adrenaline. Everyone would be screaming around you.


“Then, you would roll out, be pumped up and excited. You get caught up in the moment. They call cut, and you go, wow, that was actually dangerous or weird. But, once you’re in the scene, for some reason, you always forget and you feel invincible, which is silly, because film sets are dangerous places.”

He praised George who, at 70, made the best “Mad Max” movie with this “Fury Road”: “The thing with George is, his mind is an insane place. I hadn’t seen the ‘Mad Max’ films before auditioning.” But, Nicholas saw the doctor-turned-director’s “Babe: Pig in the City” and the two “Happy Feet” movies. “I was like, wow, the guy that created these films with incredible detail and characters—such a strange world—before I was born.

“Then, you get to spend time with him. He is the sweetest, kindest man in the world. He will listen to everyone around him. It was week one or two of the filming. I was sitting in my car, and we were waiting for all the other vehicles to turn up. I was talking to George.

“I said to him, ‘You have been waiting to make this film for over 10 years. How do you feel about it all coming together?’ He had a very objective point of view. He was obviously happy to see it all come together.”

He paraphrased what the Australian director told him: “He was like, ‘I have to be wary not to get carried away with my own creation. I have to be able to step outside of this and look at it objectively from almost an audience’s point of view, because they are paying to come to a film. They don’t have the same attachment as I do to it. So, I have to not think everything is amazing, because it’s from my mind. I love it, but I still look at it objectively.’”

Nicholas summed it up: “I thought it was one of the smartest things a director ever said.”

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TAGS: “Fury Road”, “Mad Max: Fury Road”, Mad Max, Movies, Nicholas Hoult

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