'We bonded over Girls Aloud'
About A Boy's Nicholas Hoult tells Emma Pomfret what it's like working with a new co-star ... and their taste in cheesy pop music
About A Boy and Skins actor Nicholas Hoult credits cheesy pop music for helping him to bond with his co-star in BBC One's heart-breaking one-off TV film, Coming Down The Mountain.
"I think it was mainly dancing about to Girls Aloud wasn't it?" he grins widely, turning to Down's Syndrome actor Tommy Jessop, who plays his older brother Ben, for confirmation.
Tommy, laughs, "Yeah, Love Machine was our favourite", and the pair collapse into giggles, clearly the best of friends after weeks of gruelling filming in London and Snowdonia.
Penned by award-winning novelist Mark Haddon, Coming Down The Mountain is a snapshot of life through the eyes of David Philips (Nicholas), a boy who falls in love then struggles to cope when his family relocate for the sake of Ben's education.
"We're just an accident. A load of mixed-up chemicals. Change the recipe and we'd be really big potatoes with eye-tentacles ... Of course, sometimes they do change the recipe and you get a brother who really is a big potato with eye-tentacles. And then you might as well talk to the dog," Nicholas's character declares bitterly in the film's first scene.
Indeed, the Philips' world revolves around Ben's needs while David's are unwittingly neglected by their parents, so when the family up sticks and move near a special needs school and David loses love, friends and his school, his antipathy to Ben grows to the point where he decides to push him off a mountain and get rid of him once and for all.
"David's a typical teenager - that sums him up pretty well - but obviously the major thing, which is what the script is set around, is that he has an older brother who has Down's syndrome," Nicholas explains.
"The story is told from David's point of view - he feels people avoid him and aren't friendly towards him because of his brother... he thinks almost everything is his brother's fault."
Throughout much of the film, the brothers' relationship is strained and even violent, not least because David can't help but see Ben as a nuisance.
"David just sees him as a chore, he has to stay with him on the bus, he has to tidy up, and, as brothers, they don't really relate to anything," Nicholas says.
Happily, Nicholas and Tommy's off-screen relationship was different and they hit it off as soon as they met.
But Nicholas admits that filming some of the scenes in Snowdonia was often quite scary.
"We wore harnesses on the cliff edge, and I thought I was all right with heights, but when you're standing towards a sheer drop you think, 'If I was to slip a little'. A harness makes you feel a little bit safer but surprisingly not that much. You know it's there, but at the same time you don't want to test it out."
Coming Down The Mountain is on BBC One on Sunday, September 2.