Nicholas Hoult talks working with Bryan Singer, his interpretation of Jack, and his favorite fairy tale with a twist for JACK THE GIANT SLAYER
Nicholas Hoult may have started out as an awkward 11-year-old in “About a Boy,” but this Friday, he will be starring in his second leading man role of the year in “Jack the Giant Slayer.” In the past 11 years, Hoult has shed his metaphorical baby fat and landed himself yet another fantastical lead role in what seems to be a chain of spectacular projects for Hoult.
In this film, he stars as Jack, the “unlikely hero” who must defeat a race of angry giants and save Princess Isabelle, the feisty heroine he falls in love with. Along with Eleanor Tomlinson, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, and Ian McShane, Hoult plays out this light-hearted but action-packed take on the classic fairy tale we have all grown up with.
In the interview below, he talks about his version of the fabled Jack, his favorite fairy tale with a twist, and what it’s like working with Bryan Singer again. You can watch the trailer and read his answers in our Fairy Tale Question Speed Round at the end of the interview. Enjoy!
AG: So you play Jack, the hero of the film. There have been several different versions of Jack over the years, so what makes your Jack different? What kind of man did you want him to be and what parts of yourself did you kind of insert into your interpretation of Jack?
NH: I wanted Jack to be an “every man” in many ways. He’s quite normal and a good guy, and he stands up for what he thinks is right. Things don’t always go his way. He makes silly mistakes, and he isn’t a hero from the start. That’s what I really liked about the story. It’s very much him growing and learning to become an unlikely hero and stepping up to the plate. I think that was what attracted me to the role. To be able to play a character that changes and grows over the film is interesting. The fact that Bryan Singer was directing was a massive plus. He is a great storyteller and really talented at bringing lots of different elements together in a film of this scale with the special effects and visual effects, with these giant characters and that whole world. To still keep quite a personal story within that of two young people, myself and Eleanor Tomlinson, who plays the princess, falling in love against the odds and then growing and creating their own destiny. I loved that.
AG: You mentioned that Jack is this sort of “every man” kind of hero.Was there anyone you looked up to like that growing up that you wanted to emulate in a “hero” sense?
NH: There’s kind of a little bit of a Star Wars vibe going on between myself and Ewan McGregor, where he’s kind of an “Obi Wan” to my character, someone he looks up to. Bryan watched “The Princess Bride” as kind of a model for this film. It’s romantic but light and very action-packed and huge in scale, but still quite funny and humorous in a very interesting world he’s created for it to be set in.
AG: Recently there has been this surge of fairy tales being re-told in Hollywood, from “Snow White & the Huntsman” to “Beastly” to “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.” What do you think it is about these stories that have people wanting to hear and see these new takes on them?
NH: I think it’s because they’re all classic stories from people’s childhoods that they really care about and love. It’s just interesting to see these new twists on them. Obviously, with special effects nowadays, we can create these marvelous worlds and these giant characters that are more realistic and fascinating to watch than they ever could have been in previous takes on these stories. I think it’s also just a fun family outing where parents can take their children along, and they can learn something about the story that maybe the kids haven’t seen or don’t know as well. Parents can re-live their childhood a little bit seeing it, and there’s something new and fresh in there.
AG: What fairy tale would you like to see re-vamped and made over? Which fairy tale would it be, and what would the new twist be?
NH: Strangely, one of my favorite films growing up was “Hook.” So that tale I thought was fantastic. I just think the writing in that film, and in this film as well, is really smart. I love the way they take the original tales and then twist them and make something new and entertaining.
AG: Looking at your body of work, you have been a part of several fantasy films like this film, “X-Men: First Class,” “Warm Bodies,” and “Clash of the Titans.” Are these kinds of projects just what you are drawn to or are you just sought out for these films? How has that worked out for you?
NH: I just try and look for interesting characters and directors to work with. At the moment, I enjoy watching these types of films, certainly, and going to the cinema to watch them, especially when it’s a big spectacle like this. It’s a real escapist thing to get to the cinema and just enjoy. It’s not been a conscious decision by me to aim for these sorts of films. I want to mix it up and try as many different things as possible.
AG: Having done these films, you are no stranger to working with CGI and visual effects. What has been the most challenging part of acting with that?
NH: This one was definitely the most challenging, because, obviously, before when I’ve done the special effects, it’s been landscapes that have been created and things like that. It’s never been to this extent where there are whole characters that aren’t there. We had Bill Nighy’s voice playing over loudspeaker, and we had kind of an idea of what they would be doing. They had already been motion-captured before the live shoot began. It’s tough to kind of imagine, though, what will be placed there. That was something that was most enjoyable about seeing this film, seeing what the visual effects team created. It’s really special and so exciting to see these giants and the land they live in. You’re watching it and thinking, “Wow, this is better than I ever could have imagined, and it’s so realistic.” It’s intriguing to watch, because it’s all in 3-D and pulls you right in. It’s a real adventure.
AG: What was it like working with Bryan Singer again?
NH: It was fantastic. Obviously I really liked him when he was working on X-Men [First Class]. He cares so much about film and is so talented in bringing so many elements together. We had fun on set. We’d laugh and joke about what we were doing. It was a very light atmosphere, but he was also very serious about crafting this movie and making a good character for me. I really enjoy working with him, and we’re going to be doing the next X-Men [Days of Future Past] film together as well. I’m looking forward to working with him again in a couple of months.
Fairy Tale Speed Round:
If you could choose, which fairy tale princess would you rescue? I genuinely wanted to rescue the princess from this film. Eleanor did such a fantastic job playing her, and I liked the fact that it wasn’t a typical princess where she wanted to get out and have an adventure. She wasn’t cooped up or in a tower somewhere. She was out fighting and being involved and growing herself.
Would you rather slay a dragon or reverse an evil curse? I would definitely want to slay a dragon.
If you found a magic lamp, Aladdin-style, what would your first wish be? For more wishes!
Which fairy tale villain would you want to defeat? Oh, I think Captain Hook.
If you could be any fairy tale hero, besides Jack, who would you be? Pinocchio. Is he a hero? He’s a hero in my eyes.