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Remembering the Best Times Nicholas Hoult Was the Internet's Perfect Horror and Sci-Fi Boyfriend
The Renfield star has a legacy of great supernatural boyfriend roles that deserve to be celebrated.
If you've seen Renfield, then you know there's plenty to appreciate about the Universal Pictures film, including its black comedy, creative use of gore and, yes, romance.
What do you mean what are we talking about? One of the most humanizing aspects of Nicholas Hoult's take on Renfield, Dracula's (Nicolas Cage) forever-Familiar, is his not-subtle crush on New Orleans PD traffic cop Rebecca Quincy (Awkwafina). He saves her life a bunch of times, and with every gross, blood-drenched encounter, the duo get closer while Renfield's heart-eyes get bigger. Certainly, his local co-dependency support group sessions are helping him be a better man, but we argue that the esteem of the morally impressive Rebecca is the personal inspiration that spurs him to make the big move to actually go up against his boss. There's no life worth living without love, kids. And Hoult has quietly carved out a very strong space as a genre actor who gets that message across to audiences over and over again in film.
In fact, Renfield seals the deal in cementing Hoult as one of our favorite sci-fi/horror boyfriends. With his expressive eyes and sweet face, the actor manages to overcome any severe FX makeup to radiate compassion, empathy and deep love when the role asks him to deliver. As such, SYFY WIRE has curated this list of Hoult genre characters who shouldn't get our heart's pumping, yet he makes it happen anyway. We rank 'em from 5 (still needs some work), to 1 (best boyfriend evar).
5 Mad Max: Fury Road, Nux
We begin with the caveat that War Boy Nux is a hot mess at the start of Mad Max: Fury Road. He's essentially a cultist, all in with Immortan Joe being his one lord and savior. Conditioned from birth to give his life for anything Joe wants, Nux is not boyfriend material at the start. But his journey from the Citadel breaks Nux out of his information bubble and exposes him to the outside world. In particular, witnessing the bravery of Joe's escaped "wives" and then the personal connection he makes with Capable (Riley Keough) gives him a reason, and his own opportunity of choice, to make the ultimate sacrifice in the end. Perhaps if he didn't get wiped out saving the Rig, he might have grown into another hero like Furiosa (Charlize Theron) or Max (Tom Hardy) for Capable or someone else.
4 Renfield, Renfield
As we mentioned above, Renfield's unexpected chemistry with Officer Quincy (Awkwafina) is one of the sweet delights of this film. They temper some of the grossest action scenes of the film, and she gives him an example of a human with an actual moral compass to model his future behavior. We love the scene inside his colorful apartment as he explains his relationship with Dracula and falls more smitten with her every second.
3 X-Men, Henry "Hank" McCoy / Beast
Playing mutant Hank McCory, a.k.a. Beast in the X-Men: First Class universe, Hoult gave us a younger iteration of the character who is desperate to suppress his mutant abilities so he can fit into human society. A genius, he tinkers with a serum made from Mystique's (Jennifer Lawrence) blood and ends up making his mutant powers worse, presenting as a blue-furred "Beast." One of the big reasons Hank plays poorly with science is because he's got a big old crush on Mystique. They both are feeling it in the First Class movie, but their connection becomes strained because she isn't ashamed of her powers or abilities. It's a wedge issue that plays out between them. We have sympathy for Hank, but he's got some work to do in figuring out how to love himself without being ashamed. Gotta love yourself before you can love someone else well, Hank!
2 Equals, Silas
Many may have missed this A24 gem, Equals, that has Hoult playing Silas, a "member" of a futuristic, dystopian society that has essentially wiped out emotions, sex and all maladies in order to control the human population. But a disease is tearing through people that restores their emotions. Silas is infected and falls for a fellow infected, Nina (Kristen Stewart). With everyone against their growth and personal connection, Silas proves to be one heck of a boyfriend with the lengths that he goes to for Nina in the film. We swoon even though it's a bleak future.
1 Warm Bodies, R
This sweet and quirky adaptation of Isaac Marion's 2010 novel Warm Bodies hit when everyone was all about gross zombies. Hoult's zombie R was the antithesis of nasty walkers, and he sold the idea that in the rubble of a zombie apocalypse, maybe some of them were able to get their humanity back. When he encounters Julie Grigio (Teresa Palmer), something happens to his heart. Throughout the course of the film, his feelings for Julie literally bring color back to his cheeks as his humanity is restored by his love for her. Does it get more romantic than that? We think not. Warm Bodies is a gem of a weirdo rom com and Hoult manages to make a zombie someone you want to cuddle.
Renfield is now playing in theaters everywhere. Click here to sink your fangs into some tickets.
Want to catch Hoult in another horror? Warm Bodies is now streaming on Peacock.
Originally published Apr 18, 2023.