Nicholas recently spoke with The Hollywood Reporter to discuss the new season of The Great, his 90210 audition, childhood fame, and much more! Check out outtakes and scans in our gallery.
Are you interested in how I got dog poo on my face when truffling?” asks Nicholas Hoult one chilly October morning, seated at a tucked-away eatery in North Hollywood. Something in the way the 31-year-old Englishman says it — brightly, eagerly, as if he’s offering a tea cake — makes it sound not entirely unenticing.
So this is how Hoult got dog poo on his face when truffling: It was spring 2021, and the actor was in a forest somewhere outside London filming the second season of The Great, Hulu’s breakout dramedy about the rise of Russia’s 18th century ruler Catherine the Great, which returns Nov. 19.
Hoult plays her spoiled and volatile man-child of a husband, Peter III — a bravura performance that earned him Golden Globe, SAG Award and Critics Choice Award nominations — while Elle Fanning plays the empress, whom last we saw staging a successful coup against him.
And so now Peter is being held captive inside his own castle. When Catherine refuses to let him and his beloved poodle out on a promised truffling expedition (Peter is an unabashed foodie), he outruns the guards and storms into the woods in a fur hat and nightgown to root out some truffles on his own.
“So I was snuffling through the woods,” Hoult continues. “We finished a take, and there was a slightly green, weird mud on my face. And I was like, ‘Oh. This is definitely poop.’ For some reason, it had snowed in England. Didn’t see the poo.”
No one can appreciate the humor in that humbling situation more than Hoult, who, figuratively at least, has had to endure countless such indignities on his journey from child star (starting with that bowl cut he sported in his breakout turn in 2002’s About a Boy) to handsome leading man.
Case in point: By 2008, Hoult, then 18, had found continued success in the U.K., having starred in Skins, an edgy young adult series that brought him what he calls “a weird-ish level of fame because only people in your age group are watching.” But he was struggling to find a footing in Hollywood.
His agents at the time were throwing everything at the wall and hoping something stuck. So they sent him in to read for 90210 — yes, the CW reboot of Beverly Hills, 90210. When he arrived, the Studio City waiting room was packed with dozens of actors his age nervously running lines. Hoult’s heart sank as he waited for his turn to be called in.
“I did one reading, and then they were like, ‘Great, thanks,’ ” he recalls. “I was like, ‘Should we put it on tape?’ And they were like, ‘No, I think we’re good.’ “
File that one under “bullets dodged,” as not long after, Hoult was selected by Tom Ford to star in his directorial debut, 2009’s A Single Man. That would be followed by a series of high-profile gigs in pics like 2011’s X-Men: First Class (he played Beast in three of the films); 2012’s Mad Max: Fury Road (he was the crazed renegade Nux in the postapocalyptic action stunner); and 2018’s The Favourite (the savage period comedy that led him, via screenwriter Tony McNamara, directly to The Great).
“He’s basically one of those actors that ticks every box,” says Fury Road helmer George Miller on a call from Australia, where he’s in preproduction on Fury Road‘s follow-up, the 2024-slated Furiosa (in which Hoult does not appear). “Not just his talent, not just his skill level and not just his ability to collaborate under difficult circumstances. But also as a human being. For such a young person, Nick is quite exceptional, mainly in the way that he displays grace under pressure.” continue reading