Golden Globes nominee profile: Nicholas Hoult (‘The Great’) earns first nomination after last-minute shift from supporting to lead

The decision to shift Nicholas Hoult‘s performance in “The Great” from supporting to lead at the 2021 Golden Globes race has paid off! After exiting the supporting field in late December to compete in lead instead, Hoult has successfully made the jump from vying in supporting at the 2020 Emmys to earning his first ever Globes nomination in the same role as Best TV Comedy Actor.

The move pits Hoult against four other actors he did not have to consider competition until now and who, mostly, are already familiar with being a comedy lead winner. Eugene Levy (“Schitt’s Creek”) won the Emmy in September, Ramy Youssef (“Ramy”) won this category last year, and Don Cheadle (“Black Monday”) was nominated here three times and won once for his work in “House of Lies.” Only Jason Sudeikis (“Ted Lasso”) is with Hoult as a first-time nominee. Hoult also contends against Levy, Youssef and Sudeikis at the upcoming SAG awards, with Dan Levy (“Schitt’s Creek”) replacing Cheadle in that race that doesn’t differentiate between lead and supporting.

The Globes, as we know, love a first-season nominee and often award them the prize. In this category alone, since 2012 when Matt LeBlanc won for the first season of “Episodes,” only once has the Globe not gone to a debut performance — in 2018 when Aziz Ansari prevailed for the second season of “Master of None.” Such a stat could afford Hoult (and, okay, Sudeikis, too) a major advantage in the race.

Hoult, who gained attention 10 years ago as Beast in “X-Men: First Class” and has since had feature roles in Best Picture contenders “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “The Favourite,” finds new territory in the Hulu comedy that explores the initial years of Peter III of Russia’s marriage to Catherine the Great (Elle Fanning). While the two characters are not a match made in heaven — Peter is a selfish and oversexed misogynist while Catherine dreams of educating her new country toward a gender-equal future — the actors are. Hoult and Fanning create one of the freshest pairings on television with genuine chemistry and a dedication to the show’s over-the-top and campy style. Hoult plays Peter as the perfect balance to the titular character and creates a sense that he is as “great” as she is.

“The Great” premiered last May, qualifying for the 2020 Emmy season and earning noms there for directing (Matt Shakman) and writing (Tony McNamara). In that race, Hoult competed in the supporting field and missed out on the nomination. But as luck, and strategy, would have it, the bump to lead for the Globes paid off for Hoult as well as the show which also earned a nomination for TV Comedy and for Fanning in TV Comedy Actress. Will the Globes go their own way again and see Hoult’s greatness where Emmy did not?

This article is a part of Gold Derby’s “Golden Globes nominee profile” series spotlighting the 2021 contenders in film and TV.

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