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Illustration: Dan Park

The Hot Seat: Nicholas Hoult

X-Men's new Beast goes a little less wild than he did on Skins.


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You're rebooting Kelsey Grammer's role as the Beast/Hank McCoy in the new X-Men: First Class. Did you watch a lot of episodes of Frasier to prepare?
[Laughs] I did! I watched it quite a lot to listen to his accent, which I didn't try to imitate completely; I just had it as a thought in the back of my mind, something to lean toward. So I ended up walking around saying, "Niles!" a lot. Niles! That was the ritual for a little while. I also watched the old X-Mens themselves, and read the comics.

Do you ever keep your American accent off set?
Oh no, no, no, just during the scene. I might keep it up between takes, but not the whole day—people would have thought I was a knob.

Your character in the film is ashamed of his feet.
At the start of the story, he's got these large, apelike feet which he hides in loafers. He tries to turn them into normal feet so that he can go swimming, or whatever, and not be different. Unfortunately, the serum that he makes to reverse what happened to his feet has a counter effect, and causes him to turn into the Beast—he becomes a blue, furry and much-larger fellow.

What about you? What are you most ashamed of?
Somebody did say that my feet were disgusting the other day. [Laughs] I've got to take better care of them, I guess, but I've never met anyone who has ever loved their feet, particularly.

For the Beast, though, it isn't just his feet that's the problem, is it?
There's an unease about him. He would have been at home with his science kit. He's not somebody who would have been out and about, and hasn't got people skills.

He also has a Jekyll and Hyde aspect to him.
Yeah, in the sense that he's afraid of unleashing—no pun intended—the beast within. He's got to embrace it, understand it, and learn to control it.

Do you experience that in your own life?
As in, is there a rage inside of me trying to get out? [Laughs]

I wasn't necessarily suggesting that, but now that you've mentioned it, I'm suspicious.
[Laughs] I mean, there's always a thing where people are pushed into a corner.

So can you relate to the Beast's discomfort in his own skin?
That's one of the things about the X-Men films—feeling isolated, like you don't fit in. Everyone can relate to that at some point in their lives.

Do you have any nude scenes in this film? Are you used to that, considering all the bum you had to flash on Skins?
No, I didn't. There was no nudity!

That must have been a relief.
Yes, it was nice to keep my clothes on at work for once.

X-Men: First Class is out Fri 3.

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