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‘About a Boy’ star Nicholas Hoult grows up

Actor co-stars with Colin Firth in 'A Single Man'

Auds familiar with the 2002 Hugh Grant starrer “About a Boy” may be surprised to find that Nicholas Hoult, who played the morose tyke of the film’s title, has metamorphosed into a grown man.

His latest is the Weinstein’s Co.’s “A Single Man,” the debut pic of fashion designer Tom Ford, in which Hoult, who turns 20 shortly, plays Kenny, an enigmatic college student attracted to his English professor (Colin Firth).

“He’s almost like a guardian angel,” says Hoult of Kenny. “He recognizes that something’s wrong with Colin’s character and just wants to connect with him. Tom said to think of ‘the power of now’ in portraying him.”

The film, set during the Cuban missile crisis, is lovingly lensed, its Southern California locale presented as a dreamscape, complete with beautiful people, including Hoult, in and out of clothes.

“I didn’t find it that terrifying, to be honest,” Hoult says of his nude scenes. “And in this film they gave us lots of fake tans, so you don’t feel naked: You’ve got your tan on.”

Hoult unofficially shed his “About a Boy” persona when he starred two years ago on the popular U.K. series “Skins” as the manipulative and controlling Tony Stonem, a beautiful teen worshipped by his peers and their parents.

“When I got the script,” Hoult recalls, “I thought I’d be auditioning for the (nebbishy) character of Sid, so I was intrigued when they said they’d like me to read Tony. He was a lot different from what I’d played before. It took a lot for me to understand him, but we got there.”

Next up for the young thesp is a remake of “Clash of the Titans,” now in post-production.

“You feel like a 10-year-old kid who’s paid to kill scorpions,” Hoult enthuses. “I play the youngest of Princess Andromeda’s personal guards. I become a bit of a hero, and a man as well.”

P.O.V.

Lucky Break: “The Weitz brothers trusting me with that role in ‘About a Boy’ would be the main one.”

Favorite Film: “Being There” with Peter Sellers. “The whole movie is just perfectly put together, funny and charming. And everyone I know that’s seen it loves it.”

Five Years From Now, I Will Be…: “On a film set with great people making something I love and enjoying myself.”

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