Nicholas Hoult savored his experience on the set of .
In Mark Mylod’s darkly comedic thriller, Hoult plays Tyler, an overzealous foodie who brings Anya Taylor-Joy’s Margot to a remote island dining experience, hosted by Ralph Fiennes’ celebrity chef, Julian Slowick. Tyler desperately wants Margot to revel in the experience like he is, but she remains thoroughly unimpressed by the proceeding until things take quite a turn.
Because of the nature of his character and the way Mylod shot the film, Hoult had no choice but to eat more than he usually would in any given scene.
“With Tyler, I just had to be constantly eating. Mark [Mylod] also shot this film with roaming cameras, and I just wasn’t sure what was going to be on screen at any time. So I just had to dedicate myself and commit to eating,” Hoult tells The Hollywood Reporter.
Hoult is also looking ahead to his second collaboration with Nicolas Cage courtesy of Chris McKay’s Renfield. The English actor plays the eponymous role of Renfield, the right hand to Cage’s Dracula, and Hoult can’t wait for the world to see what Cage has cooked up.
“To get to work with him whilst he was playing Dracula, I don’t think there’s two more iconic things than Dracula and Nic Cage,” Hoult shares. “As a person, he’s such a pure soul to be around, and I’m excited for people to see what he’s done. It’s original, but it’s steeped in a lot of history, Dracula history and folklore. So it’s exciting, even though it’s a very bizarre, elevated tone for an action-comedy.”
In a recent conversation with THR, Hoult also discusses his conversations with Taylor-Joy about acclaimed filmmakers George Miller and Robert Eggers, as Taylor-Joy prepped for the former’s Furiosa and Hoult preps for the latter’s Nosferatu.
So after making The Menu, have you stopped taking pictures of your food?
(Laughs.) I mean, I was never really a photographer of food, anyway, but this certainly was a good lesson in not doing that. Tyler is always sneaking photos when he shouldn’t be, and one of the requests at Hawthorne is to not take photos of the food. But he does not listen.
Your performance as this try-hard foodie named Tyler is so specific. Did you have anyone in mind, or have you seen a number of these types over the years?
Yeah, I’ve witnessed people who were similar in some ways, but the character wasn’t based on one person. It was an amalgamation of what was in the script and speaking to Mark [Mylod], the director, and coming up with ideas about the desperation of this character and how uncomfortable he is in himself. And then I combined that with things I’ve witnessed while going to restaurants with people over the years and trying to find the truth in that.
I’m sure you’re nothing like your character, but is there a particular food that makes you quite fussy as far as how it’s prepared?
I really like cheese and pickle sandwiches, but I don’t like them when I get them out. A lot of the time, they’re just not made how I make them at home. They’re such a specific thing to my childhood, and the way I make them for myself is just different, I suppose. So that would be a thing that is unsatisfying if I get it anywhere else.
Chef Julian Slowick (Ralph Fiennes) has fallen out of love with the art form he’s devoted his life to, and I think that’s more common than we might realize. It’s just that most people don’t go to his extreme lengths to express it. Anyway, has this movie made you more conscious of protecting your love for creating art?
Yeah, that’s one of the beautiful messages or themes throughout this story. It’s this idea that you dedicate your life to something and you really aim to be a force of good within it. You create things that people care about and that you care about, but there’s certainly times where that’s difficult or trying. So, occasionally, you have to flip back and check in with yourself about why you started doing what you do just to make sure that it doesn’t get tainted in any way.
Because of the unique dishes being prepared, did you eat more than you usually would during a scene?
I ate tons because Tyler is meant to be someone who is all about the food and a bit of a glutton. He’s greedy and just wants to drink in this whole experience. So I ate so much. I’m not someone who’s particularly smart, in general, but also specifically about the idea of pushing food around a plate during a dinner scene and then not actually eating much. With Tyler, I just had to be constantly eating. Mark also shot this film with roaming cameras, and I just wasn’t sure what was going to be on screen at any time. So I just had to dedicate myself and commit to eating.
To be reprimanded by a Ralph Fiennes character, is that an intimidating place to be?
Yeah, of course. It is intimidating, but Ralph is such a generous actor and a kind warm soul to be around. I’ve been a fan of him and his work for so many years, and I was in awe of watching him throughout this process. So I tapped into all those fanboy emotions and feelings that I had and just put them into Tyler because he is completely meant to be all those things in terms of his reactions to Chef [Slowick].
So I asked Anya if you gave her a George Miller crash course, but she said that didn’t really happen. She said you were more supportive and encouraging. Is it something that one can only understand while on a set of his?
I think so. People have asked if I had advice and stuff, but I don’t think there’s one thing that you specifically have to have before going into one of those movies. It’s a big production, there’s a lot going on and it’s a very visceral experience. But George is such a kind, caring and dedicated director, and his brain is such a creative-genius world that you can never fully understand exactly what he’s seeing. So you just have to hand yourself over to his reins, his process and believe in him. That’s the most important thing.
Your news came much later, but did Anya give you a Robert Eggers crash course for Nosferatu?
We did speak about that a little bit. Anya said that he’s such a wonderful director to work with in terms of what he demands of you as actors, but also what he’s able to mine from you. So going into work with him, that’s something that I’m really excited about seeing. I’m such a fan of his movies and the look of them and the feel of them. So, to be able to be on his set and see how it comes to life is something I’m very excited about.
I really enjoy movies and series about the making of beloved movies, such as The Offer, which chronicles the making of The Godfather. So do you expect there to be a movie about the making of Mad Max: Fury Road at some point?
I don’t know. (Laughs.) That’s difficult to say, isn’t it? I mean, maybe that’s a story that people would like to dive into. When I watch a film that I’m in, all the memories of what it was like to create it come back suddenly, and that’s kind of a wonderful thing. You remember that this and this was happening on set that day, and it triggers all these memories that aren’t necessarily on the screen. So perhaps there’s something to explore within that, but I don’t know.
I speak for everyone in that we were heartbroken when you left Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One. Was that just a matter of scheduling?
Yeah, unfortunately, that was because of Covid and things shutting down for a while. And then productions clashed, so I couldn’t be a part of it anymore.
I referenced the George Miller experience moments ago, but you’ve now had your second Nic Cage experience. So what can you tell me about Renfield?
(Laughs.) Yeah, the second Nic Cage experience was incredible. I got to work with him when I was 14. I played his son in a movie called The Weather Man, and I felt so fortunate to be back on set with him because I’m such a fan of his. But to get to work with him whilst he was playing Dracula, I don’t think there’s two more iconic things than Dracula and Nic Cage. So, to put those together and be in scenes with him and just watch all the inspiration and all the things that he brings to the character, the fun of it, the dedication, his love for acting, I just loved every single moment. As a person, he’s such a pure soul to be around, and I’m excited for people to see what he’s done. It’s original, but it’s steeped in a lot of history, Dracula history and folklore. So it’s exciting, even though it’s a very bizarre, elevated tone for an action-comedy. So I’m excited for it.
My first real introduction to you was through Skins, and you, along with several of your castmates, have gone on to have great careers [Dev Patel, Daniel Kaluuya, Kaya Scodelario, to name a few]. Was there something in the water during those days? Do you attribute that group’s success to anything in particular?
Skins was just a good learning ground, and the writing was really brilliant on that show. Through the casting and the process of making it, they found really talented people. And fortunately, a lot of us have stayed friends, so we get to watch everyone’s careers blossom from it. Skins was the English version of those teen dramas that are so popular in the States, but it was very, very specific to that era and that time. It was written by a group of very young writers, so it felt very authentic. We were also very young when we did it. We were 16, 17, so we were growing up and having those experiences whilst we were putting them on the screen at the same time. So it was less falsified, I suppose, than some. But yeah, I’m excited to watch all the work that people are doing.
I often ask young actors what type of movie they’d like to make someday, and the overwhelmingly common answer is a movie like The Favourite. Have you also felt the reverence for that movie from your fellow actors?
I mean, I love that movie. That was a film that I got to pop up in, occasionally, but I wasn’t around for a lot of the brilliant scenes between Rachel [Weisz], Olivia [Colman] and Emma [Stone]. And so, getting to watch it, I was like, “Oh, this is so cool.” Yorgos [Lanthimos] is such a masterful storyteller. His ability to balance this dark, twisted drama, but also with real humor and levity, and make something that feels, tonally, completely original, is phenomenal. So it’s a film that I feel very lucky to be a part of.
A Lord of the Rings show came out recently, and a bunch of people came out of the woodwork to act like they knew what J. R. R. Tolkien would or wouldn’t have wanted from this series. As someone who played Tolkien, can anyone remotely speculate as to what he’d actually want from his adapted works?
I don’t think so. His mind was such a playful, wonderful place from what I can understand and take away from getting to try and pretend to inhabit it for brief periods of time. But any time that those worlds and those characters and that language can live on and be developed, I think that’s exciting for his legacy.
Decades from now, when you reminisce about the making of The Menu, what day will you likely recall first?
The first day. I walked onto that set and said, “Oh, we’re going to be inside this restaurant for the next eight weeks.” Hong Chau’s [character] showed us where we were going to be seated for the evening, and so it was the anticipation of the journey that we were about to go on as actors. There was something about watching Ralph in the kitchen for the first time and getting that first glimpse of him in his element. There were just all these tiny little details within that, so that was a special day for me.
The Menu opens in theaters on Nov. 18th. This interview was edited for length and clarity.