Nicholas Hoult Enjoyed Eating Brains In Warm Bodies, Except For One Hairy Mistake

Ever since 1985, brains have been on the menu in zombie movies. It wasn't enough that the living dead could tear you apart and feast on your flesh, now they'll use your skull as a serving dish. But what if eating brains connected you with the person you ate, and what if all that's needed to be human (again) is a connection?

That's one of the conceits behind "Warm Bodies," Jonathan Levine's fourth feature film and his second horror picture after "All the Boys Love Mandy Lane." Levine adapts Isaac Marion's 2010 novel of the same name, itself nodding to Shakespeare's romantic tragedy "Romeo and Juliet." The two households both alike in dignity in this story are humans and the living dead, eight years after the fall of civilization in a zombie apocalypse.

Nicholas Hoult stars as a zombie known as R, who roams an airport with his fellow flesh-eaters, constantly craving brains. Hoult doesn't have too many lines to recite since his character is more of a moaner than a talker. When he meets Julie (Teresa Palmer) and eats her dead boyfriend's brains (thus accessing his memories), he falls so hard for her that his heart begins beating again. The story plays loosely with zombie lore; these zeds can mind-meld with those whose brains they consume, feel human emotions, and even recover from their infection. But they're still zombies and they still shuffle around, moan a lot, and gobble brains. Hoult got to do all three; a fun part of his prep included studying movement with circus performers. He told Conan O'Brien that it was all fun and games until a clump of hair threatened to ruin a take, and he had to take one for the team.

Would you have done the same?

Hoult, who stars in the upcoming "Renfield," explains that his character's primary diet during the movie consisted of the brains of Julie's doomed boyfriend Perry, played by Dave Franco. R feels conflicted about it; his voiceover asks the audience to look away while he slaughters the screaming young man, before explaining that eating brains gives him access to the thoughts and feelings of his victim — a fireworks show here, a romantic embrace there. It's not just that the brains are the tastiest bit of the body; eating them brings R the closest he can get to feeling better, "a little less dead." 

On "Conan," the star details how the scene would go: a Dave Franco-esque dummy was positioned before him, whereupon Hoult would "crack its head and peel its skull off and eat its brains." He describes the brains as made of a sweet, cakey substance with lots of theatrical blood added. They're normally "tasty" but one time, the "Mad Max: Fury Road" star got a chunk of dummy's hair along with his edible innards. Rather than call attention to it, Hoult decided to save everyone the time and trouble. He told Conan:

"I sat there and I looked at it, and I knew it would take a while to reset this skull. So I thought, 'I'm just going to eat the hair.' So I ate it. I don't know why, it was disgusting. I felt as though I had taken one for the team. 'If I do this, everyone can go home early and they won't be stuck here for another half hour' or whatever. I was quietly heroic, I never mentioned it until now."

Hopefully, such sacrifices won't have to be made on the set of the "Warm Bodies" TV series, should it ever happen.