This Is Only for the Moment

by Randy Matiland

A Moonlit Chat with the Young Actor in Touches on Honesty
Hey, Nicholas, it’s me. You remember? Of course, yes. We met at the photo shoot. What’s it been—a month? 5 weeks? You’ve got a good memory (of course you do, you’re only 23). Right, right. Remember, the first thing you did was take your pants off. Quite strange, yes, but seriously, Nick —do people call you Nick? Your loved ones? Your mates? Or is it Nic?—can you hear the difference, the soft “c”? Or do you go by some other name entirely? That doesn’t really matter. Let’s say your full name together ... Nicholas Hoult. That’s right, and tell the recorder what you are. Okay, good, you’re an actor. No, it’s okay. Yes, we should probably explain why you took your pants off when we were first meeting. But we’ll get to that, yes, in due time.

I’ve made the “editorial” decision to finish up this interview over the phone. You don’t mind that it’s late, that I’ve positioned myself more or less near a window. I’m looking at a full moon. Is this weird I’m having the full moon help me write? Is this okay, like this? The full moon tears my eyes to shreds. I feel like crying. I’ve kind of wanted to do this over email, but it hasn’t worked out—I don’t think it will. You’re too busy, Warm Bodies, Jack the Giant Slayer—plus there’s the movie you’re filming right now, Young Ones, a sort of revenge drama type story, that’s not quite like the action films you’ve been doing. Then there’s the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past (obviously you’ll be reprising your role as “Beast” from the First Class film), and the Mad Max film you’re doing with Tom Hardy—where apparently, yes, I had no idea you could knit, that’s very funny, that’s how you passed the time on the set, knitting little socks or something.

But seriously, are you comfortable? I’m quite comfortable. I have the computer propped up on my lap. The screen is lighting my face, which I can see in the window, but guess what’s on the screen, that’s lighting up my face? That’s right, it’s your face, your face lighting up face. You don’t think it’s weird that I look at a picture of you while I talk to you, do you? No, of course not, you’re comfortable in your own skin. No, that’s not a Skins reference. Yes, you were very good on that show.

Seriously though. Every day there’s some new news item about you. The web is rife with Hoult (I practically live on the Web). You’re damn well all over the place. No, that’s unfair. Of course I’m not sick of your face (it’s practically a beacon) but it’s funny that you’d say that—that you’d think that. It’s just that I see your face everywhere. And it’s a lovely, distinctive face. Those eyebrows, they arch gothically, like they’re above a cathedral door where I’d confess to hellish torments. Sort of like a zombie, right, thoughts of flesh and brains, but damned to a stifling airport—that’s Warm Bodies, yes, a reference to the set up. As I sat in the dark of the theater, as I sat amongst strangers, I thought about telling you your eyebrows are like gothic arches, and now that I have, I feel kind of embarrassed. You’re too kind. I won’t be embarrassed. But let’s talk about that movie.

Warm Bodies. It did quite well, huh, was number one at the box office for a bit. There’s talk of a sequel. You play a zombie named “R”—but you’re not a full-on zombie yet, you’re not like the “bonies”—those skeletal things that have lost all aspects of their humanity. You still crave brains and human flesh and all that, but when you eat people, you sort of get some of your humanity back, like in the form of memories. That’s a good way of putting it, part of what makes us special is what we remember.

There’s that great scene where you eat Perry, the boyfriend of Julie (played by Teresa Palmer, who we featured last issue, and yes, of course, you’re right, she is lovely, I believe the chemistry you talk about is there, on screen, like I believed that she could fall in love with a grumbling limping corpse) and you’re sort of struck by love. Your face, it does a good job of half-registering emotion, like the guy at the party who kind of gets the joke and can’t laugh but forces himself to anyway. There’re the comparisons to Romeo and Juliet, about “R” being a part of the zombies and Julie being with the humans, the sort of social constraints on young love, and also thoughts about how love sort of wakes us up, wakes kids up from their “feelinglessness”—like kids are just a bunch of zombies on computers listening to zombie music. And yeah, I get all that. But I saw Warm Bodies as a sort of commentary on military occupation and the strategy of “hearts and minds.” It’s a strange sort of militaristic belief, that through the heart, anyone can be “turned,” like a more extreme version of Homeland—and that there are those who are lost (i.e., the terrorists) but there are those that kind of can be saved (i.e., moderate Muslims) though I was sort of offended by myself, thinking these ridiculous thoughts (“R” would be like a moderate Muslim). But it’s hard, right, not to think about the world, when you’re watching something that’s clearly part of the world, though it isn’t intended to function as anything other than a diversion from the world? Does that make sense? Probably not? A cloud has passed over the moon, obscuring my view.

Maybe writing your answers would be better because it’d give you more time to be thoughtful, but then again, you’re busy. I know. We’ve gone over this. I wish I could pour you a glass of milk. The moon is white like milk. But that’s beside the point. Thoughtfulness. This is maybe why in all the interviews you do people describe you as sort of reserved—or taciturn, reticent? What’s the word I’m looking for? It doesn’t matter. I just want to know, is this something you’ve thought about? But then that would make you thoughtful. And maybe you don’t have the time to be really thoughtful, because you’re young and you’re constantly going, going. And that’s also something sort of British, you suppose, that British men sort of keep stuff inside themselves, aren’t very likely to just lay their cards on the table. You’re right. There’s nothing to gain “getting personal.”

And I don’t think I’m really thoughtful or all that open—at least not in a philosophical sense, and I’m ever at wits end. Right. You remember. When we met at the photo shoot in downtown Los Angeles, I wasn’t in the best condition—it was in this like loft, big and dark, the day was sunny, but inside, in that cavernous studio, very little light was coming in and it was cold, and I didn’t really feel altogether there, like I belonged. Fearing this, I sought to go further in the other direction, exaggerating my carelessness and disregard for the conventional manner of interview for something more wild and candid, and this would somehow justify my sloppy and thoughtless state—as a way to access something like “openness.” But then you were really just kind and open, regardless of my approach, and one of the first things you told me was how nervous you were, which sort of disarms everyone, when people say they’re nervous. Usually someone tells you, “Oh don’t be nervous, this is nothing.” How often we are told “this is nothing!” Everything starts to seem like nothing!

But yes, that was your way of breaking the ice. Then you told me about the best interview you’d ever done. It was some girl writing for an Italian magazine, and I asked you what made that interview so good, and you said that it was honest. And this prompted me to ask you what honesty is, and you told me it’s a feeling, an energy, and you just know it, and that’s always what you’re trying to tap into, is this energy, this feeling. And it’s easy, when you’re working with passionate directors, like Bryan Singer (who directed you in Jack the Giant Slayer, and X-Men: First Class), directors who have a real passion for film.

Passion for film. It was at this moment—this was when you dropped your pants. And you laughed, you said, in like a mock deep voice, and this is the part of the interview where Nicholas Hoult dropped his pants. But that wasn’t all that odd, you “dropping trau.” It’s a photo shoot, one pair of pants dropped for another ad-infinitum. What was odd, I guess, was how at ease you were—how you made “everything” seem like “nothing.” You changed into a dapper looking suit though there was some discussion whether or not you looked too mod, but whatever, you didn’t seem to mind one way or the other; as you yourself then stated, you’re more of a jeans and tee shirt guy. Yes, but it’s not all bad getting dressed up from time to time. I agree. No, I remember. That one guy who yelled at us when you were posing under the bridge in that big jacket. He called out, “Hey, Jacket!” And you were like did that guy just call me “Jacket”? I told you it was because you’re quite tall and handsome, that they wanted the attention you were receiving (from Thomas Giddings, the photographer, his assistant, the stylist, and I’d like to think—me) deflected over to them.

We all think we deserve something, for our efforts. Sometimes I think about being tall and handsome as a reward, but that’s—yes, it’s not really that important. It’s not what this is about. Well ... it is and isn’t. You’re right. It’s about confidence, but not being arrogant—sort of knowing how you are and what you can pull off. Yes, we’re back to honesty, pulling off honesty like it were a magic trick. And that’s what you said that day as well; you just don’t want to come off like jerk. It’s important that you’re kind, you’re professional, you show up and do your work, and be generous to everyone, because you don’t know how long this going to last, this acting thing. When you were first getting going—because your sister and your brother were into acting and dance lessons and that sort of thing in Wokingham (on the Wikipedia page for Wokingham you’re listed as one of the notable people from Wokingham. You didn’t know that Wokingham is considered the best place to raise a family in the U.K.? You wouldn’t mind going back would you, to raise a family? But no, you’re not thinking about that right now—no, of course not—except, and this was something you were pretty adamant about when we first met, you told me this theory you have, like when the people in the 60s were all being free spirits and destroying the family and the institutions around which society is built, that was their way of rebelling, but now kids in our generation (well I’m a little older, yes, I know what you mean) but now kids in our generation are more interested in settling down and being married and having families. It’s almost like it’s a new way of rebelling, by being completely, like, above board.) but like I was saying—sorry for the tangent—was that when you first getting going, you didn’t really think “acting” would be this thing that you’d be doing for a career. But here you are—or there you are, in South Africa, “acting.”

About that whole marriage thing, I think I only half agreed, Nicholas, but I saw where you were coming from. It was easy to see where you were coming from—Wokingham, a small nice British little sort of place. You told me about a pub you liked as we walked outside of the studio. Or, at this point, we were standing outside, while the crew prepared the next interior shot. Either way, brilliant daylight, cloudless sky—typical of Los Angeles, and sort of redeeming, the slight chill in the air—you remember all of this. To our left, a flatbed truck filled with oranges, a small Mexican woman with a knife hewing one in half. I took photos of you lighting your smoke. Yes, a terrible habit. Of course you’ll quit. But it’s a culture thing. Smoking is—and I asked if you had Instagram (no I didn’t post the photos—not yet at least). I don’t remember if you said you did or you didn’t, or if you were going to or not. Do you now? You hadn’t quite “blown up,” (I think that’s what people do here in the States) at least, you weren’t so massive yet, like how a star is massive. So, of course—sure, you’ve been forced into having a “social media presence” to combat the bullshit, that is, the people who make fake accounts, pretend to be you, say stupid shit on your behalf. Of course, you say stupid shit on your own behalf, you’re a man, you say stupid shit from time to time, and that’s fine—it’s just the Internet is full of turds with turd opinions.

After you got your cigarette lit—or I’d put away my phone, a plane flew overhead, or it was a disc of the moon splintered off—but I remembering something “flying” and it being “overhead” at this moment and that felt important, like a sign. This was when I asked you what love is, and you told me what you’d been telling me all day. Honesty, love is honesty, and that’s all you said. So I asked, I had to ask, what is honesty, because as I looked at you, I realized, I have no idea. You smirked, and said the best policy. It is the best policy, I agreed. Then we became silent. I almost told you I doubled over laughing—that it was a joke. But that would be a lie.

If you don’t mind, I’m going to close the window, the blinds, shut the laptop. Maybe it’s better that I sit in the silence of the absence of your face. I’m tired too. Do you want a picture of me to look at, maybe later? No? That’s okay. It’s very easy to send. You’re very polite, that’s nice. Yes, I liked chatting. Yes, we should catch up next time you’re back, and if you want a picture, seriously, I can take one of the moon, in fact, I can take a picture of almost anything. It doesn’t really matter. It was a pleasure. No seriously. It’s late. I understand. Yes. Goodbye. Okay. Mr. Hoult. Godspeed.

Photographer: Thomas Giddings for Streeters.com. Stylist: Warren Alfie Baker at WarrenAlfiebaker.com. Groomer: Paul Rizzo for BumbleandBumble.com. Photography Assistant: Reid Peppard. Styling Assistant: Coco Ogburn.

Grooming Notes: Men’s Age Control Moisturizing Cream SPF 15 by Ahava Skincare for Men.