After starring in About a Boy back in 2002, Hoult could have been considered just another baby-face. But the actor, now 23, wants to change that impression. “It’s hard to find anyone to take me seriously as an actor at all,” he confessed in an interview with The Huffington Post. “There’s definitely pressure to being a lead in a film. I’ve been fortunate before to have worked with great actors and great directors, but I haven’t been a lead role in quite a few years. You can kind of hide in the shadows and just turn up, do a few good scenes and everyone likes you—if it goes well. With this, there’s much more to it; trying to create a grounded story and an arc to the character.”
It was a struggle to get the role of R in Warm Bodies in the first place for Hoult, who had to audition with lots of other actors. “I met up with Jonathan [Levine, the director] and we got along well and had a good chat,” he said. “He had obviously met with quite a few actors and stuff. I think he felt—the way he described it to me, and hopefully I’m not putting words in his mouth—that I was the one actor who wasn’t scared of it a little bit. It’s a bit of a risk doing this in some ways, but I didn’t see it as that. I saw it as a good opportunity. I think he saw a few of R’s qualities in me, perhaps.”
For less talented actors it might have been difficult to bring a dead person to life (so to speak.) Hoult had to portray a zombie who finds himself in an existential crisis after he falls in love with one of the last humans on earth. The main thing Hoult worried about was making a zombie feel relateable to the audience.
“The physical thing and the vocalization of his grunts would just kind of happen,” he said. “I would kind of wing it and hope for the best. But the main thought was that thing of him being trapped and wanting to feel something and connect with someone. He wants to feel alive.”
Another difficult aspect of playing a zombie? Well, that would be eating brains of course. “It was like a cold, wet sponge thing that’s kind of a grapefruit,” Hoult said. “It wasn’t very nice. It was pretty, pretty rough. It was kind of a twisted tart. I guess it was the closest I would ever get to brains.”
Warm Bodies arrives in theaters this Friday, February 1.