British actor Nicholas Hoult has come a long way from his breakout role as the achingly earnest Marcus Brewer in the 2002 film About A Boy. In fact, in some ways he’s come full circle.
His current performance as the fornicating, frivolously frantic dethroned Emperor of Russia Peter III in The Great on Stan has all the rakish joy of Hugh Grant’s original character.
Then of course, there’s been the slew of roles that most actors would give the front teeth for.
There was his groundbreaking performance as polysexual Tony Stonem in the UK hit Skins and his role as young ingenu in Tom Ford’s aesthetic marvel A Single Man before taking on the blue skin and fur of hirsute genius Hank “The Beast” McCoy in the X-Men films.
Now 31 and a father himself, Hoult has become the rarest of actors: a bona fide movie star with both indie clout and blockbuster appeal.
This duality in his career, and ability to flick with ease between the two streams of his craft, makes the announcement of his latest project – the face of the new campaign for the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso – a rather poetic fit.
In The Turning Point, a short film directed by French cinematographer Théo Gottlieb, Hoult explores the duality of human nature as it is expressed by the two faces of the Reverso – a face for two different time zones. Or a reminder of the two worlds we live in – the public persona and the one we keep private.
In Hoult’s case, it’s the face he wears as an actor and the one that he sports in his private life.
ICON sat down with the actor over Zoom to talk about how he manages to keep these two worlds from colliding and how time has become one of the most precious things in a post-COVID world.
What made you want to work with Jaeger-LeCoultre?
Nicholas Hoult You know, the key thing for me which is brilliant is some of the films that I’m most proud of and really momentous moments, I suppose, career-wise have been at the Venice Film Festival, with Jaeger-LeCoultre sponsored for many years.
That was how I first got introduced to the brand. As a fan of watches already, but probably not that well versed or educated in them, JLC were very kind and lent me some to wear on the red carpet.
So these moments that were personal and momentous to me were also intertwined with JLC and the story of what was unfurling of those films being released, I guess. It was a very organic process in many ways.
What was it about the Reverso that appealed to you?
With the Reverso, I think obviously its classic nature in terms of the design and the history of it.
Also, I mean it sounds obviously slightly corny to say, but my job is to have two faces or to keep things hidden or to have the characters you create, but then a personal life, and this ability within the Reverso to encapsulate that is intriguing to me.
Then on a practical, simple level, with the geo face particularly, there’s that need when I’m travelling – I can have two time zones on my watch and always feel close and connected to where I was or where I’m headed to or loved ones.
Personally, the Reverso I’m wearing now has my son’s initials engraved on the back.
You’ve recently become a father, so all that travel and the work that leads you around the world must sometimes get exhausting so how do you balance your schedule?
You know what? It’s something that I think I’m still working out and trying to understand.
I think that’s something lots of people struggle with.
Because there’s the ability to always be contacted. This email, let me just respond to one thing quickly. I think that’s the thing, properly disconnecting. It’s something that I’m trying to make a more conscious effort to do, to properly step away and say everything can wait.
Part of the theme explored in the film with Theo and Jaeger-LeCoultre is the idea of having two faces, one for work and one that’s personal. How do you keep them separate?
Everyone acts to a degree, whether it’s with your close friends or you’re suddenly at a dinner that you feel out of place at.
How do you keep them separate, I think, is I don’t know. I feel like because of acting when I was a kid, it was quite a natural thing to try and not let those two blur.
The important thing is still be able to step away from it and have a perspective on life outside of filmmaking, because that’s also what you need to do a good job.
So no random huzzah’s?
[Laughing] No! It wasn’t in my vocabulary before and it certainly can’t be in my vocabulary afterwards, because, yeah, I don’t think that would go down too well with anyone. It’s funny, though, how that huzzah’s been taken on. In the most unexpected places, occasionally I’ll just hear, “Huzzah.” But it does make me laugh. Of all the things to be heckled with, huzzah is…