“Warm Bodies” is the first zombie movie told from the point of view of the zombie himself — and, as played by Nicholas Hoult, he’s surprisingly charming. Here, Hoult (Hank McCoy, aka Beast, in “X-Men: First Class”) stars as “R.,” the Romeo-esque undead lead character who can’t remember his full name. However, he does remember (barely) what it was like to be human when he meets Julie (Teresa Palmer) and decides to protect her rather than eat her brains. What follows is a very unlikely romance that changes the status quo for both zombies and humans.
Hoult spoke to Moviefone about his zombie makeover, fake brains and the hardest part about playing someone who’s supposed to be undead.
What was your first reaction when someone approached you to star in a zombie romantic comedy?
No one really said much about the concept of it. I’d heard some good things and I saw that it was adapted by Jonathan Levine, and he was going to direct it. I was a fan of his already, so I thought it was probably going to be something interesting. And then I started reading it and just really enjoyed it. It was funny and sweet and the character was just something that I really wanted to play.
What was your inspiration for your zombie walk?
We kind of did a bit of zombie schooling. It was more a feeling of just being really tired.
Stumbling around a little bit and just a slight lack of coordination. We watched a lot of zombie films in the build-up just to kind of get an idea of what had been done before. We didn’t want to get too over-the-top and ridiculous. We wanted something more subtle.
What’s your favorite zombie movie?
I do really like “Shaun of the Dead” and “Zombieland.” But “28 Days Later” is great as well.
Do you think a zombie romance is a tough sell for audiences?
At first, you have some internal voiceover and you realize that before he was undead, but this is quite a witty guy with a dry sense of humor that, hopefully, has a charm to him. So I think it’s more about people to like that side of his personality than how he looks.
What was the toughest part of playing a zombie?
Not laughing, actually, is really difficult, particularly doing scenes with Rob Corddry.
We’d literally do scenes where there was nothing scripted, it was just me and him grunting and kind of having a conversation. One of us would do a weird grunt and then we’d both start cracking up.
You get probably the first zombie makeover in movie history.
Yeah, that was also a difficult scene not to laugh throughout. Slapping the makeup on me, yeah.
Do you think horror purists will enjoy it?
That’s a tricky one because people get quite possessive of the zombie characters and feel as though they shouldn’t think and all they should do is hunt and that’s it. Once people see it and see the humor in it and let go of that a little bit, I think they can enjoy it. I think they’ll be entertained.
What were the “brains” you’re seen eating?
They were a kind of wet, peachy sponge thing with grapefruit and stuff. It was an odd taste. Nothing that I’d recommend.
What’s going on with the “X-Men: First Class” sequel?
I think we start shooting later on this year. I haven’t read anything yet but I’ve heard it’s a really cool script. They’re still working on it a little bit, but I think it’s going to be very exciting.
Beast has gone through a major transformation: Does that mean we won’t be seeing you onscreen anymore in your non-mutated form?
Well, wait and see on that.
What do you hope happens in the sequel?
I’m dying to find out more. I know they’ve got some cool stuff planned. It was a character I really enjoyed playing. I’m just looking forward to being with those actors again and with Bryan Singer directing as well. I did a film with recently him, “Jack the Giant Slayer,” so it’ll be nice to work with him again.
Do you still have people telling you how much they loved you in “About a Boy?”
Sometimes, yeah. Earlier on today, there was a nice lady I met who was a really big fan of it. It’s great that people still hold that film dear in their hearts. I’m very proud of it. The Weitz brothers are some of the nicest people to work with and great directors. I was fortunate to work with them and learn from them.
So now you’ve played a mutant and a zombie… what’s next?
Next, I suppose, I’m in “Mad Max.” I’m playing a warrior driver character. It was a lot of fun and a very cool movie to be a part of. Just the vehicles they built and the story and the action. George Miller, the director, is a top guy so I had a lot of fun working for him.