Nicholas Hoult — the 12-year-old star of About a Boy (opening Friday) — admits he's always been a fan of co-star Hugh Grant. Before meeting him, Hoult imagined the famous Briton must be just like his charming character in Four Weddings and a Funeral.
"I expected Hugh to be an old-fashioned English gentleman," says Hoult, who's previously done TV and theater across the pond. "I only saw Bridget Jones's Diary after I met him."
Watching Grant's wicked turn in Diary probably would have worsened the lad's jitters. Little did he know the superstar was even more intimidated by the prospect of acting opposite a child!
"If someone said, 'Why don't you hang out with a kid for the afternoon?' my hair would stand on end," Grant confesses. "I'd have no idea what to do."
The 41-year-old sounds very much like his Boy character — a rich, apathetic bachelor who reluctantly befriends a child with a troubled mother (Toni Collette). He adds that "they did say to me before shooting, 'Why don't you hang out with Nicholas and get to know him?' But actually, I thought I would preserve my hopelessness with kids for this role, so I didn't. I think that worked out."
For his part, Hoult seems to have shed his starry-eyed view of Grant. Now, he'll even venture to criticize the guy's career! Laughing precociously, he pipes up: "I saw a movie of Hugh's on TV the other day — The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain — and I turned it off because it was actually quite awful!"