Nicholas Hoult on Making Equals with Kristen Stewart
Making a movie about a futuristic society that outlaws even the slightest stirrings of emotion was a surreal experience for Nicholas Hoult and Kristen Stewart. Their rehearsals for “Equals” would consist of staring into each other’s eyes for an hour straight while repeating their characters’ names, all in the search for hidden connections and what Hoult calls “micro-expressions.”
“It’s very freeing as an actor,” says the actor. “You don’t have to hit certain beats or stick to a script. You’re kind of allowed to explore and be honest and truthful, and that’s a wonderful thing.”
Director Drake Doremus’s process was inspired by, of all things, improvisational comedy, so that the grueling rehearsals and 30-minute takes with ad-libbed dialogue would be punctuated by silly outbursts. Which is why Hoult could, with a completely straight face, tell Made in Hollywood reporter Kylie Erica Mar what his true inspiration was.
“I made it as a tribute to Tom Hiddleston and Taylor Swift,” he joked.
Equals with Nicholas Hoult, Kristen Stewart Set in a Future that Outlaws Love
Opening Friday, “Equals” tells the story of Nia (Stewart) and Silas (Hoult) beginning a forbidden and passionate romance that leads them to attempt a dangerous escape. This stifling and monochromatic world forces people to sublimate all emotion; the simple touch of another person’s fingers could lead to disaster.
“For this it was really about stripping down Nia and Silas and starting over so they essentially had to start from scratch and then come to where they are, as opposed to the other way around which is how you normally do movies,” says Doremus. “It’s all about restraint. She’s exhibiting so much restraint. Silas is starting to understand that he doesn’t even know what restraint is.”
With so much going on inside the actors’ minds, it was important for Doremus to set the proper mood.
“He plays music on set, a lot of Michael Bolton,” says Stewart. “The rehearsal process is really ambiguous and fluid. It’s not like a normal approach to making movies.”
Kristen Stewart on the ‘Weird’ Experience Watching Equals with Nicholas Hoult
Then came the day the actors finally saw the final movie.
“This one in particular is strange to watch because of how we fell into it, 30-minute takes — you’re not going to remember everything you said. It’s going to be stuff that’s just off the cuff and whims that you follow and then you forget, and the tangents,” says Stewart. “You just don’t remember anything. It’s not something I controlled, it’s not something I carved out. It was something that was presented to me. It was weird.”
Watch the trailer for “Equals” below: