This month sees Nicholas Hoult appearing on the big screen as the legendary fantasy author J.R.R. Tolkien in the biographical film Tolkien. From the author’s childhood through his time in the war, from his creative passions to his loves, Tolkien promises to be a phenomenal look at the man behind The Lord of the Rings. However, it’s far from the first time that Hoult has starred in a film that is either an adaptation of literature or a portrayal of a literary great. In honor of his latest, we take a look at some of his biggest and best literary roles—and some yet to come.
About A Boy (2002)
This adaptation of Nick Hornby’s novel of the same name was the film that really put Hoult on the map. He stars here as Marcus, an awkward teen who ends up forming a relationship with Will (Hugh Grant), a lazy man trying to seduce single mothers with a fake son. From this strange premise, the two end up learning a whole lot about themselves and what they need out of life in a film that is raw, touching, and sweetly funny.
Fox’s X-Men movies
Although About A Boy may have been the film to launch Hoult’s blockbuster career, his biggest franchise role has to be as Hank McCoy in Fox’s X-Men movies. Hoult has appeared in four films so far, with a fifth (X-Men: Dark Phoenix) on the way later this year. Based on the Marvel comics character, Hank is possibly better known as Beast, a mutant genius who has the appearance of a giant, hairy, blue monster.
Warm Bodies (2013)
As well as taking a dip in the superhero pool, Hoult has taken on some light horror, like the zombie rom-com Warm Bodies. Based on the novel by Issac Marion, this twist on the zombie apocalypse film is all about a young human girl who ends up spending time with a zombie and discovering that love and human connection may actually be enough to bring them back to life. This is definitely not the typical shoot-for-the-head undead movie, and is a rarity in that it is told from the zombie’s perspective.
Dark Places (2015)
From zombies to thrillers, Hoult’s next role in a literary adaptation was alongside Charlize Theron in the thriller Dark Places. Based on the Gillian Flynn novel of the same name (the same Flynn who is also known for Gone Girl), the film focuses on a brutal murder, and one of the only witnesses returning to her memories of the event decades later to try and understand what really happened. Hoult’s role as Lyle is key, as this is the man who first prods her to start investigating what happened, although no one could expect how it all works out in the end.
Kill Your Friends (2015)
More murder and mayhem for Hoult in this black Brit comedy about the music business in the ‘90s—but this time, Hoult is the main character. Based on the John Niven novel of the same name, this hilariously dark flick carries Hoult (as A&R man Steven Stelfox) through a world of drugs, booze, and Brit pop…but he'll go to any lengths to keep his dream alive when the music business starts to change.
Rebel In The Rye (2017)
Another biographical film, rather than an adaptation, Hoult appeared in Rebel In The Rye as the legendary J D Salinger. It seems that there is just something about Hoult that screams famous literary figure! Rebel in the Rye, much like the upcoming Tolkien, covers the author’s romantic life, creative life, and time in the war. As well as being about a great literary figure, this film was also based on a book J. D. Salinger: A Life by Kenneth Slawenski.
Upcoming: Those Who Wish Me Dead & The True History of the Kelly Gang
In the next two years, Hoult has no fewer than three literary films on the way; Tolkien, Those Who Wish Me Dead, and The True History of the Kelly Gang. As well as the Tolkien biography, he’ll be returning to some literary thriller goodness with Those Who Wish Me Dead, (based on the book by Michael Koryta) about a teenage boy who witnessed a murder, and is now hidden in a wilderness program for teens while his enemies hunt him down. Hoult has been confirmed in the film, but nothing is known yet about what his role will be. The True History of the Kelly Gang (novel by Peter Carey), meanwhile, is an Australian Western—although again, Hoult’s role has not yet been revealed.
What are your favorite literary adaptations starring Nicholas Hoult? Tweet @quirkbooks and let us know!