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Talking with A Single Man's Nicholas Hoult
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Talking with A Single Man's Nicholas Hoult

by Gary M. Kramer - SGN Contributing Writer

In A Single Man, George (Colin Firth) is a man grieving for the loss of his lover Jim (Matthew Goode). On the day the film takes place, Kenny (Nicholas Hoult), a student of his, starts paying attention to George, chatting him up and eventually seeking him out at home, where the two men develop a bond that may become sexual. Hoult spoke about his role, working with Tom Ford, and skinny-dipping with Colin Firth.

Gary Kramer: What attracted you to the role of Kenny?

Nicholas Hoult: I liked his outlook on life. As I read [the script] I got a sense of Kenny and his voice. I hadn't read the book when I read the script.

Kramer: What do you think attracts Kenny to George? This is a bit of an inappropriate student/professor relationship&.

Hoult: It's an intellectual thing. Nobody understands Kenny, or thinks on his level. He thinks there is a connection with George. He's striving for that [bond], and there are undertones of sexual curiousness. He wants to connect with George who [is mourning] a connection with someone.

Kramer: Do you see Kenny as George's savior?

Hoult: He's a guardian angel. He is someone who is interested in George, and the only person who picks up that something's not right with him. He looks out for him. Kenny is an acute observer of character. It can be seen that Kenny's naïve and that he does not know what he's doing, or he is out to seduce George. People can take what they want from the film.

Kramer: Do you prefer doing period pieces like A Single Man and your previous film, Wah-Wah? How do you create a character that is far removed from your life and your experience?

Hoult: [Laughs.] I'm not a fan of technology and how it's all advancing. I'm nostalgic. I do research to learn about the environment, no matter when it's set. I do like doing period pieces.

Kramer: What kind of research did you do for Kenny?

Hoult: I started a week before filming began. One of the key things was the book The Power of Now, about not worrying about the past or fretting about the future, but living in the present. A lot of the [details] are in the script. You don't have to say George is lonely sitting in glass house to know that he is.

Kramer: What about doing an American accent? It's said that British actors can do American accents well, but Americans can't do British ones well. Though Julianne Moore acquits herself quite nicely in the film.

Hoult: It's tough to say. I don't know. Did it sound right? I didn't have any complaints. The accent comes with the character. I talk in it all day. I find that if you worry too much about it, you start to get into trouble. You can't think about it in the moment.

Kramer: You were dressed fabulously in the film. What did you think of the costumes? Were they close to your dress sense/style?

Hoult: [Laughs.] The costumes were fantastic. Kenny is very light - he's a shining light/guarding angel. I don't think I could get away with all the white [he wears] with my pale skin. I'd look like a snowman.

Kramer: You are also undressed fabulously in the film. What can you say about doing the nude swimming scenes?

Hoult: I don't find it awkward in the moment. The awkwardness comes when they say cut and you're yourself again. It's like normal life, the moment is fabulous and after it passes, it's awkward. For the skinny-dipping scene, the water was very cold. I got ash in my eye on the third take, so we stopped filming. Colin thanked me, because he didn't want me to go back into the cold water.

Kramer: Speaking of Colin, how did you work with him on the relationship between your characters?

Hoult: The process between Colin and I was very natural. If you plan too much it feels like you are manipulating the audience. The contrast between them was great - you can feel George is attracted to the vitality in Kenny.

Kramer: What was it like working with Tom Ford?

Hoult: Tom was obviously, very precise [in] the script. We shot it in 21 days. He had a great vision, and understands how to portray this. It's so personal to him. It's a love letter to his partner, Richard Buckley. You can feel the passion. He had a perfect method of helping out the actors and letting them be free to experiment - take a different emphasis on a line, or a look or a beat. He wasn't in over [directing].

Kramer: You have an exchange with George about life's little gift. What do you appreciate in life?



Hoult: I take from the film, what George is experiencing - that he is noticing things more vibrantly than normal. I try to pick up things you take for granted, and appreciate the little thing in life, such as the sense of smell. Smelling the roses, as it were.

© 2009 Gary M. Kramer

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