Nicholas Hoult tells us about her experience on the filming of Tolkien

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Before you start, what did you know about Tolkien ?

Not much (laughter). I had read the lord of the Rings. I grew up watching the movies. The Hobbit was one of the first books that gave me the brothers Weitz, when we were shooting About A Boy. I had read his work but I didn’t know much about the man. To be honest with you, I said his name wrong ! Everyone pronounced “Tol-kienne”, but it’s pronounced “Tol-kine”, what I’ve learned from watching a documentary.

What has been the aspect of his personality more complicated to interpret ?

The more difficult when one plays a real person, especially a person with such a reputation, dear to the hearts of the people. I’ve already done, and it feels like so much pressure ! It wants so much to bring justice to the person that it can be suffocating. So this is one of those things that it takes to arm the body and try to tell the right story. This is a difficulty strange, to accept the weight and responsibility without allowing them to overwhelm you.

In this case, how did you approach this role ?

I think he is really trying to capture the essence of someone. Since I knew so little about him, everything was surprising. And then, working with Dome, it is difficult to enter into the psyche of someone who has found an orphan so young (Tolkien was orphaned at the age of 12 years). This is someone who gains confidence and becomes a man, but at the same time, which does not have the trust anchored in him. It suffers from being always on the margins of a world in which he will never really part. These other boys [in the school] are born in rich families, have always been guaranteed access to the most prestigious universities and to have a good life anyway. Tolkien follows, but it does not come from the same world and therefore must do things his way.

His relationship with Edith Bratt is a central element of the film. What does it bring ?

I think she offered him a support. It was a character very strong. She was older by a few years. I imagine it was a little more at ease, more mature and better equipped. I think that she has given him emotional support very different from that to which he was accustomed to.

How was it to share that with Lily Collins?

It is fantastic. This is an actress so talented, who has the wonderful ability to play a strong character, but at the same time wounded and human as honest. It is just wonderful to shoot with it. It is a featured film, old-school 30 years, it is wonderful to look at. I think she feels English at heart. It makes the work much more easy when you play a love story with someone that you enjoy sincerely and which is a formable actress. It has been a pleasure to see what she brought to the script, to complete the character.

A big part of the film is about students who are having fun…

Certainly there are pieces that are reminiscent of the Circle of Poets Missing people. all these young characters grow is to encourage them to create. Because of the time, they are repressed by the institutions, or emotionally, thus we are seeing the evolution of young people, who are seeking their place in the world. It is very funny. I heard one of the characters describe it as “playful”. It is this thing that the boys will always have them…

The story follows Tolkien in the trenches of the first world war. How did you feel filming those sequences ?

I really loved it. There’s something that happens when the turning becomes difficult, which makes that I surpasses me. It’s wonderful to make of the scenes in the halls, trying to find the emotional heart of the scene. but there is something really nice to be out there, at the mercy of the elements, feeling really at the heart of the story.

Why the film explores the experience of Tolkien during the first world war ?

Tolkien caught trench fever. He has visions, alternating between consciousness and delirium. This puts in place a idea to be able to create these worlds, and the friendship, or companionship in the novel through the people he has lost and the things he has overcome. I think it will give a very different side to the film. You are accustomed to the cleanliness of the life of Tolkien at Oxford, when you are transported to this battlefield to mud, in full chaos. You never see them write his famous stories. This is why the story is so good, because you delete everything that he came to do. This is the story of a young author who finds love and friendship, loses it, and devoted himself entirely to the work with his book.

Was this a funny movie to make ?

It is very different from the character in the film and to be a secondary character. This strange pressure weighing on you. But if you can get rid of it in any way, this is where the fun prompt to work with your friends to do a job that you love. Then, you relax, and you enjoy. It’s nice when a scene is on one page and that you manage to do something potentially even better on the move.

How would you sum up your experience on the filming of Tolkien ?

It was wonderful to have the time to try to understand it. the thing that I was really upset, it’s the friendship and the relationships he has created in which he has invested from a young age. As an actor, there are different things that we grow through our careers, what inspires us and what we focus on. The motivations of Tolkien are so pure and beautiful. It was his love of language and his love for these people who gave him the sacred fire to create these incredible works of art.