Nicholas Hoult Discussses Playing Beast in X-Men: First Class; Updates Mad Max 4 and Jack the Giant Killer
02.25.11 by Ryan
British actor Nicholas Hoult wasn't the first actor cast as Henry Philip "Hank" McCoy, aka The Beast, in director Matthew Vaughn's upcoming X-Men prequel, X-Men: First Class. But after Benjamin Walker was cast and then dropped out, Hoult won the role first played by Kelsey Grammer in 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand. In a recent conversation with Bleeding Cool, Hoult described how watching Grammer's performance was part of his First Class preparation.
Yeah, [I read] comics, I watched Frasier, I watched the X-Men films. And then training was physically, athletics. I gained a little bit of weight and still managed to fit into my muscle suit. [laughs] We lifted weights, did some boxing. It was also in part so that we stayed energized. That worked out pretty well.
Hoult said he watched the sitcom Frasier so that he could "get Kelsey Grammer’s accent [down] correctly" and mentioned that Grammer's portrayal and his own would otherwise be quite different.
I feel they were very different characters. In [The Last Stand], Beast was a politician, and he’s been in this place for a long time. In this one he’s young and he’s a scientist. And when he changes, that comes with quite a bit of anger and embarrassment.
Unlike Grammer, Hoult plays two versions of the character: first, a more human version, and, eventually, one that has transformed into a blue, furry creature with canine-like teeth and long claws (Grammer only played the furry version). In the comic books, Beast's transformation is a result of McCoy experimenting with a "hormonal extract," and though Hoult would not reveal how his character is transformed in the movie, he did say it allowed him the opportunity to play two opposing sides of the character, as well as spending a long time in the make-up chair.
Yeah, well, in this film it’s more, he’s a young scientist. He’s very intelligent, obviously, and creates great inventions. But there’s also this side of him where you have this conflict of wanting to be normal and wanting to fit in. That’s going on. And then there’s also the side, once he becomes the Beast. There’s a Jeckyll and Hyde aspect, where he’s scared of what he’s capable of.
Before the transformation, when I’m just Hank, that’s me and there’s some CGI on the feet and toes. And then, once the transformation to Beast takes place, that’s four hours of make-up and prosthetics with a full mask and wigs and fur and a big rubber muscle suit. That’s quite a transformation.
Hoult already has a couple projects on the horizon, recently being cast in the lead role in director Bryan Singer's Jack the Giant Killer and already being cast in director George Miller's delayed sequel, Mad Max: Fury Road. Hoult was excited to work on both projects.
Originally, that was because I was going to straight to work on Mad Max, but that got delayed, something to do with the special effects. Hopefully, Max will be starting next year. George Miller is a fantastic director, so I’m looking forward to getting started on that. And Jack, yeah, we haven’t really started work on it yet, but we’re shooting pretty soon. It’s a kind of re-imagined version of Jack and the Beanstalk.