As I sat in the theater watching Jack the Giant Slayer (Easter is a great time to go to the movies, by the way), I couldn’t help but think back to the first time I watched Nicholas Hoult on the big screen. About a Boy wasn’t Hoult’s first credit, but it was the first time I saw him. He was good as the awkward kid. Yet as much as I enjoyed his performance in About a Boy I don’t think I ever gave Hoult another thought. For all I knew back then, he was just another kid in a movie who was destined to either be forgotten or to go down in tabloid drenched flames. What they call in the biz, pulling a Lohan.
I am glad I was wrong since Hoult is now becoming one of my favorite actors. He is charming, talented, and fun to watch. From Beast in X-Men: First Class, to R in Warm Bodies, to Jack in Jack the Giant Slayer, Hoult has definitely proven he isn’t “one of those” former child stars.
As I watched Jack prove he isn’t just a farm boy, and as I watched Hoult prove he isn’t just a child actor, one of the movie’s themes was obvious: Don’t judge a book by its cover. It’s a well worn theme, that of the ugly duckling. Luke isn’t just a moisture farmer, he’s a Jedi. Willow isn’t just a Peck, he is a selfless hero. Michael isn’t just some dumb little brother, he’s a smart, ruthless godfather. Okay, well maybe not the last one (should have gone with Samwise), but you get the point. We see this theme all the time because, quite frankly, we do it all the time. I shouldn’t judge others based on looks or circumstances or whatever. I get it. What else have you got for me, Jack?
In a lot of these stories, the character that everyone is counting out knows deep down in his heart that he is meant for something greater. These characters know they are more than just a farm boy. They know the inside of their book is so much greater than its cover, so when the call to action comes they seize it. Would you?
When you look in the mirror do you see a farm boy or a giant slayer? When your opportunity for heroics comes, whatever that means in your little sphere of life, will you know deep down that you are a giant slayer and jump at the chance to rescue a princess, or will you think yourself a farm boy who doesn’t deserve any better than this and let the opportunity pass you by? How often in life are we too critical of our own book covers that we let the awesome story that is inside us go unread?
I don’t have the answer of how to do this. Too often I let the farm boy inside me win. Too often I let him remind me of my faults, my shortcomings, my mistakes. Too often I let him convince me that I don’t deserve to be a giant slayer and I sure as hell don’t deserve the princess waiting to be rescued.
But I do.
We all do.
I wish I could end this post with, if not the answer, then at least a battle plan. Honestly, I don’t know if there is one. I don’t know if there is a secret to becoming a giant slayer other than to just keep trying. Good news is that while I am trying, I will always be able to draw inspiration from heroes like Luke, Willow, and Samwise.
And now Jack.