Actors frequently need to go through a lot to get in shape for their roles. With the popularity of superhero movies and other action heavy franchises, this usually means putting on a lot of muscle as quickly as possible. However, Nicholas Hoult had to go in the opposite direction, and even faster, in order to be "in shape" to play a war boy in Mad Max: Fury Road.
The character of Nux isn't exactly in the best shape. He's basically at death's door as Mad Max: Fury Road opens. This meant Nicholas Hoult had to down shift from his X-Men character of Hank McCoy, who certainly wasn't the most muscle bound of the X-Men, but still was in good shape, down to the more wasted Nux very quickly. Hoult tells GQ he basically stopped eating while also working out to drop pounds. According to the actor...
The first X-Men film where I’d gained weight and they’d ask me to kind of get muscular and those sorts of things, but yeah this was George Miller talking to me about the character obviously was supposed to be very sick when you first meet him at the beginning of the movie. So, he asked me to lose weight, he wanted [that]. Also, they’re living in a post-apocalyptic world where he wanted me to look sick and malnourished. All those things. So that was something where a couple of months or however long it was before shooting I’d just run and jump rope and not eat very much. I think I managed to lose 20 lbs.
Nicholas Hoult basically did what you do if you're trying to lose weight. Of course, most people going to those extremes are going from a state of being overweight and are trying to get fit. Hoult was already fit, and so the effect was to become skinny to an almost unhealthy degree.
The actor says he didn't even realize at the time just how much weight he had lost, but looking back at the film he can see just how skinny he really is.
Nicholas Hoult isn't the first actor to go through a massive change in body shape for a role. We've seen actors both pack on and drop pounds as needed. Christian Bale has become somewhat famous for the way he has been willing to morph his physique as needed for a film. It certainly makes an actor able to take on roles that they otherwise could not. Though sometimes you wonder just how healthy something like that actually is.
Nicholas Hoult is looking pretty normal in his interview with GQ, his next big movie will be a role in Mission: Impossible 7, which, like so many productions, is currently on hold. While it certainly required the actor to be in good shape, he probably didn't have to hit an extreme like this. He probably didn't have to gain as much muscle as he would have if he'd been cast as Batman.