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“Nicholas Hoult also says Wah!?”

by Marc Kandel

What, you expected a different title from my Richard E. Grant interview? Nick’s in the movie too! I am of course speaking about “Wah Wah”, director Richard Grant’s semi-autobiographical film about growing up in the changing political landscape of late 60’s Swaziland in Africa, amid the disintegration of his family, adapted from portions of Richard’s autobiography, “With Nails.” Having already had a face to face interview with Richard, I was fortunate enough to have access to Nicholas via email. Nicholas plays the character "Ralph Compton" in "Wah Wah", based on Richard in his adolescent years.

For those who need a quick briefing, Nicholas Hoult is known to most as the young boy who befriends Hugh Grant’s character in Chris Wetz & Paul Weitz’s 2002 film “About A Boy”. He has also appeared in “The Weather Man”.

So short and sweet, here are Nicholas’ responses to my questions (some of which I are mine and most of which have been culled from HBS members):

How aware were you of the pitfalls facing you as a young actor, when so many disappear off the map?

I'm lucky in the fact that I have changed a lot since filming " About A Boy", and I think this has helped me move on to playing very different roles.

Do you set yourself particular goals when you start so young, or are you more laidback about the way your career pans out?

I don't have any particular goals, I would just like to work with great people, and play lots of different, interesting characters.

What were the differences you faced in this production that your previous experiences had not prepared you for, and was there anything specific you learned in your previous film experience that helped you out in this film?

The only major difference was filming in Africa which was a new experience for me. I think that you learn more with each new film, but mostly being used to the general working of film sets helps because you become more comfortable with time.

I understand Richard (Grant) had to approach each actor uniquely suited to their needs and abilities. Did you find Richard a hands on or hands off director when it came to you as an actor? How was his direction different from your previous experiences?

Richard was a brilliant director. He could be hands on or hands off depending. He would let me play scenes in my own way and also help me lots. Because he had experienced all the events and had been an actor before , he was very clear on what he wanted, and this helped me to understand the character and his lifestyle.

What did you learn from the other actors you had not anticipated?

I learned so much from just being around the other actors and seeing them work, that hopefully it has all rubbed off on me.

Is there an anecdote or story you might share with us that happened in Africa, be it related to the filming or no that you found particularly fun, shocking, surprising or interesting?

A funny moment was on one of my days off. My tutor had taught me to drive so I was driving around a safari park when I drove round a corner and straight into a herd of Rhinos, and I then had to quickly learn how to reverse.

What were your expectations of Africa, and how did the reality match up?

Africa was as beautiful as I had imagined and the film does justice to that. The locals were very friendly and so kind to us all. For instance, they all sang to us on our last day filming in Piggs Peak, "Sigabonga Wah-Wah", which means “thank you Wah-Wah”. I was shocked by the amount of orphans and overall poverty of the people. Filming in Africa was a life changing experience for me.

What favorite book or play, be it fiction or non-fiction would you love to have the chance to perform in, either on screen or stage? Multiple answers are fine.

A book I recently read was "1984" by George Orwell. I think Winston Smith would be a brilliant character to play with everything that happens to him, although it would be very difficult to make a film as effective as the book.

The same question but what character, fiction or non, from a novel or history or just from admiring or being curious/interested in them would you like to play? What is your dream role? Multiple answers are fine.

I think that playing James Dean in a film based on his life would be interesting as I'm very fascinated by that era and his complicated personality.

I had included a question about one of Nicholas' co-stars from a prior film which was not answered as it evidently never made it to Nicholas, so I've scrapped that text out of courtesy to Nicholas, and the folks who've been kind enough to facilitate these interviews.

Thanks to Nicholas for his answers to all the right questions and for you gentle readers for your moment of attention. Toodle Pip!

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originally posted: 05/13/06 04:35:08
last updated: 06/03/06 08:46:53
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