Movie Talk

‘Jack the Giant Slayer’ star Nicholas Hoult promises an intense, old-school ‘Mad Max’ sequel

Movie Talk

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The kid from "About a Boy" has grown into quite the leading man.

Nicholas Hoult is making a name for himself playing mutants, zombies and fairy tale characters, recently appearing as a younger version of brilliant scientist Hank McCoy, who mutates into the blue-furred Beast, in "X-Men: First Class" (2011) and as an undead heartthrob earlier this month in the wildly subversive romance, "Warm Bodies."

This week, Hoult will make his bow in the title role of "Jack the Giant Slayer," director Bryan Singer's big-budget variation on the old Jack and the Beanstalk chestnut. Hoult will reunite with Singer on "X-Men: Days of Future Past," but an upcoming project that's got everyone buzzing even more is "Mad Max: Fury Road," which marks the first big-screen adventure of Max Rockatansky since "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome" (1985) -- proving that we do, indeed, need another hero.

That new hero comes in the form of Tom Hardy, who takes over the title role from Mel Gibson. Hoult, who plays a character called Nux, should help dispel any reservations about the part being played by someone else as he's got nothing but praise for "the new Max."

"Tom's a great leading man," said Hoult in a recent interview with Collider. "He's very intense and fascinating to watch because you're never quite sure where he’s going to go with a scene and what he's going to do next and really embodies the character and is really smart with his acting."

Hoult also loved working with director George Miller, though many may be surprised to hear that the madman who called the shots on all the vehicular mayhem of the first three "Mad Max" movies is really a pretty nice guy.

"George is a fantastic director very sweet, kind and caring," said Hoult, reminding us that Miller is indeed also the man who directed the "Babe" movies. "[He] creates a brilliant environment to work in whereby you have these spectacular locations and the vehicles ... the gut-churning noises they make."

Hoult enjoyed that visceral experience most of all -- working in a hands-on environment with real locations and real vehicles, a stark contrast to the heavy green screen and CG work of "Jack the Giant Slayer."

"It was one of the most exciting sets I've ever been on in my life by far," said Hoult. "To be a part of that visually and see the stunts they were doing. We were out there in the elements doing it for real for maybe seven months, which is great because it makes it a lot easier when you're actually experiencing that rather than being in a studio somewhere kind of faking everything."

Spending seven months in post-apocalyptic Australia meant Hoult had to be prepared for such an arduous endeavor. "I had to be in good physical shape ... When shoots are that long it also becomes sort of an endurance test, so you just want to go into feeling very fresh and pace yourself."

Ultimately, Hoult feels "Fury Road" will be something worthy of the "Mad Max" legacy, which became a full-on cult phenomenon with the release of the highly successful second installment, "The Road Warrior" (1982).

"The story is full-on, it's intense and I can't wait to see the film."

"Mad Max: Fury Road" also stars Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley as Splendid, Riley Keough as Capable, series alum Hugh Keays-Byrne as Immortal Joe and Hoult's "X-Men" co-star Zoe Kravitz as Toast. Mel Gibson reportedly makes a cameo appearance as a drifter (or, if the part follows suit with the rest of the strange character names, maybe he's actually named Drifter). The film will be released sometime in 2014.

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