Tonight: Unleash Your Inner Feasting Beast At Isola Trattoria’s New “Family Meal”

Did you grow up with that Sunday family feast? Are you Italian? Did you sit through weekly screaming matches about the significance of ricotta cheese and marble entryways? Starting tonight and every Tuesday at Isola Trattoria in the Mondrian Soho hotel, you’ll be able to revisit these magical family moments in their chandelier-filled space with their new "Family Meal:" a weekly table-full of $12 rigatoni bolognese and Margherita, truffle artichoke-topped pizza, $30 carafes of wine from the village of Puglia in Italy, and $15 pitchers of Peroni. 

Bring your family, don’t bring your family. Whichever is the case, get ready to unleash your inner feasting beast at the 9pm start time. 

But do keep the screaming matches down – people are sleeping upstairs. 

Get the inside-scoop on Isola, & follow Bonnie on Twitter here

Industry Insiders: Chad Campbell, Night Rider

With a capacity of just 110, Mister H at the Mondrian SoHo is one of the most exclusive nightclubs in Manhattan, but general manager Chad Campbell works hard to keep it humble. The Kansas City native, who traveled the world before helping to open such New York clubs as Top of the Standard and Jimmy at the James hotel, aims to create a cozy environment, where the 1930’s Shanghai design stimulates conversation among guests.

His welcoming approach can be seen in the eclectic crowd that fills the space every night, where bottle buyers and models rub elbows with actors, artists, and creative people of all stripes. “I’m looking to see who’s going to add something to the energy and vibe of the room,” he says. “We want it to be a social, unpretentious environment where people are inspired to talk to their neighbors with no confines.”

Nur Khan Confirms Kenmare Lounge Is Not Closed

Last night, nightlife people behaved like rubber-necking suburban commuters staring at some twisted wreck (a phrase often used to describe me). Tired of their own tragedies, they gained a moment of exhilaration over the misfortune of others. Thus was the scene as word spread that Kenmare was closing. It was a hundred “did you hears” as bon vivants put in their two cents. Most comments and opinions weren’t worth even one Abe Lincoln copper. Of course everything was exaggerated. Kenmare isn’t closing, at least not the part that waters these players. The restaurant, however, is going to need to change. I called up Nur Khan, always a friend to me when I need one, and asked him what was up.

The main thing he needed to make clear was that it’s business as usual for the still-hot basement boite, and that the bar upstairs will remain open. He told me that everyone has the story wrong, and we talked about this step and the next few. “The lounge has always been majorly profitable,” he began. “The restaurant had a good start, and was profitable for a long while. Michael [Montalto, the manager] broke his back trying to make it work. It was a true labor of love for me. I didn’t miss one night when I was in town. I hired a talented people manager from Batali’s, and Joey [chef Joey Companaro] was great until he left to do Philly and a couple of places on the West side.”

I talked to him about the “other” stuff he’s been working on. His Electric Room project at the Dream Downtown is off the hook. He also added that he “just got back from L.A., where I opened Writers Room.” Nur continued to lament the talented people he had in charge while he was involved in these exciting new projects. “Kenmare is one of the top neighborhood hangs,” he said. We talked about the delicate geography of the ever-developing Nolita/Bowery hood, and how suddenly there’s activity elsewhere, leaving Kenmare Street relatively quiet. Serge Becker and Nur had chatted — landlords these days are rarely renewing leases on traditional stores and joints, as they see dollar signs in the form of high-end boutiques and the like. The hood I moved out of in favor of Williamsburg is developing as fast as leases run out.

I asked him for an official statement: “The lounge is staying open while we may partner up with someone strictly in the restaurant area. It is not closed. Lounge is business as usual. We’re talking to a few potential partners for the restaurant portion. Everyone loves the downstairs.” We talked about how, as the busy season approaches, it might be nice to run the door outside and let the packed downstairs crowd spread out and chill upstairs. I asked Nur the hard question, too: Does the chill between him and Paul Sevigny have anything to do with what’s happening? “Maybe Paul and I are better friends than business partners,” he responded.

The bottom line is the bottom line, and the restaurant was a drag on it. To the rubberneckers happy to see defeat, I offer them no reward. This kind of thing happens. Some things work and other things need to be adjusted. This is an adjustment. Even with all the right ingredients — chef, management, location, superstar owners — the dish came out not as expected. Or at least it wasn’t received well. The balance of operating the restaurant upstairs and the playground downstairs is very difficult. It looks easy at Darby and Lavo, but the execution requires diligence and experience and luck. Maybe this is just some bad luck. The thing about players like Paul Sevigny and Nur Khan is that they make their own luck, and they have the resources, the experience, and the cajones to turn it around. I ran into Kenmare DJ Todd Smolar last week. Todd told me that the place was better than ever; it’s evolved into a place where regulars and locals treat it like home. Maybe that’s all they need: a little comfortable home cooking and a fresh start. I’ll be there all week.

Although i always try to ignore it, CMJ, that music festival thingy, refuses to be ignored, like a baby in a crib screaming at me to get up and pay attention. Tonight the party seems to be at the ever-glamourous Mondrian Soho, where the Pearl Jam movie’s afterparty will…jam. I hear Eddie Veder and Cameron Crowe will be there. Tomorrow it’s the Ministry and Killing Bono afterparty with Ministry’s Paul Barker doing a DJ set. Thursday it’s the Tribe Called Quest after party with Dj Questlove and a crowd of the fabulous and famous who love this mix. So basically I’m going to shuttle bus myself between the Mondrian and Kenmare all week. Oh, and I have that Studio 54 thing tonight…. What to wear?

Industry Insiders: Sal Imposimato, Behind the Music

Nightlife is a 24-hour job for Sal Imposimato, the regional director of entertainment for the Morgans Hotel Group (which includes the stylish Hudson, Royalton, Morgans, and Mondrian Soho hotels), who’s in charge of all nightlife programming.

Far from leisure-suited lounge singers and karaoke nights, these hotels host the hottest acts around, from the Kills at the Mondrian to the legendary parties at Good Units inside the Hudson, which have drawn crowds with top-notch turntablists like DJ Cassidy and Questlove, and even a Cinco de Mayo party complete with masked Mexican wrestlers. Although these events take plenty of daytime hustle to organize, he wouldn’t have it any other way. “I love to create, and New York is my canvas,” Imposimato says. “Working in nightlife and giving people an escape from their day-to-day reality is a great thing.”

Armin Amiri Brings Giddy Insanity to the Mondrian Soho

He’s only 39, but Armin Amiri has lived a life rich enough to fill a memoir—so he’s writing one. Tentatively titled The Price of Imagination, it details his escape from Iran as a young man, his journey through Turkey, Bulgaria, and Yugoslavia to a refugee camp in Vienna, and his triumphant arrival in the United States in 1989, a place where, Amiri believes, dreams do indeed come true.

They certainly have for him, even if they’re not exactly what he imagined as a child. Amiri has been an actor, with roles alongside Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler and Sienna Miller in Factory Girl. He’s been a bartender at New York’s once white-hot Lotus club. He was tapped by nightclub entrepreneur Amy Sacco to run the door at legendary Bungalow 8, where his keen eye for “casting” earned the club comparisons to Studio 54. He even ran his own nightclub, the West Village’s Socialista, which, at its peak, attracted an A-list clientele that included Madonna, Kate Hudson, and Ashton Kutcher.

Now he’s taken on a new role as the creative force behind Mister H, an intimate lounge in the new Mondrian Soho hotel that opened last February during New York Fashion Week. It’s a perfect fit for Amiri, allowing him to tap his limitless pool of industry contacts and to conjure a nightspot that reflects his fertile imagination.

“The concept, which I presented to the board, was a spot where Humphrey Bogart would have gone for a gimlet after work,” Amiri says. “He’d have gone to a place owned by a Chinese guy named Mr. Hong, and Mr. Hong would have known how many ice cubes Humphrey liked in his drink.” Add to that a certain “misty and mysterious 1930s Shanghai and San Francisco feeling,” and you’ve got Mister H, which has quickly become the preferred destination of a certain segment of Gotham glitterati.

The design owes as much to Lewis Carroll as it does to Bogey, with beaded curtains, potted palms, and a painting by New York artist Gregory de la Haba of a pole-dancing woman wearing a rabbit mask. A neon sign announces, “This is not a brothel—there are no prostitutes at this address,” lest the red lighting give patrons the wrong idea.

Amiri no longer mans the door. That responsibility falls to guys like Chad and Disco, who shoulder the difficult task of conferring entry to an always-significant line of hopefuls. “As hard as it is to get in, once you’re inside it’s pure hospitality,” Amiri says. “Whether you’re a famous actor, model, or musician, you’re able to roam around the room without being bothered. I want a place where people walk in and they’re ready to shake their butts.”

The stakes are high for Mister H, with huge sums of money and prestige to be imparted upon its partners should it be a success, but Amiri is surprisingly grounded about the whole affair. “Nightlife can be a breeding ground for a lot of insecure people, because it gives you the illusion that you have power,” he says. “Don’t buy into the hype. Just because your thing is hot today doesn’t mean it’s going to be hot tomorrow. And don’t ever let your imagination die, because if you’re not careful, this business can eat your soul.”

Photo by Victoria Will.

NewVillager Samples Mister H’s Best Vodka Cocktails

You can’t swing a MacBook without hitting a “multi-media artist” these days, but NewVillager’s broad and accomplished body of work all but renders the term an understatement. There’s the music, of course, like the band’s new single, “LightHouse,” an uplifting track from their upcoming self-titled debut album (out on IAMSOUND in August) that replaces typical indie-rock brooding with sheer, unadulterated happiness. There are the videos: “LightHouse” takes the costumed fantasy world of early Björk and adds to it modern dance, magic potions, and a woman inhaling all the life force in a room, or possibly just a very long piece of cotton. There’s plenty of writing: founding members Ben Bromley (left and right) and Ross Simonini (center) lovingly lay out the “NewVillager mythology” on their website; Simonini is the interviews editor for literary journal The Believer. There’s modern art, photography, and even NewVillager games, such as the one they play in the video for “Rich Doors,” which depicts a 27-person integrated event that involves, in part, a fluorescent green ball.

And now, the bi-coastal artist collective can add “cocktail taster” to their resumes, thanks to a recent evening spent critiquing vodka-based libations at Mister H, an exclusive lounge in the new Mondrian Soho hotel. It was a warm spring evening when we met Yusef Austin, a master mixologist with more than a decade of experience creating drinks for trendy nightclubs and parties around the world. As the cocktails started arriving, Bromley and Simonini pondered their unique charms, which actually paralleled the band’s artistic ethos, always resting on the friction point between opposing forces.

Exotique: 2 oz. Stoli Elit vodka, 1 oz. passion fruit juice, ¾ oz. cardamom and star anise elixir, ½ oz. fresh lime juice. Add pink peppercorn. Shake and serve in a martini glass. Garnish with pink peppercorn d ust and a hibiscus flower. Ben Bromley: The crystals on top form the spiral arms of a galaxy or hurricane. It’s a spinning pattern—a recurrent form. This drink is a force of nature. It reminds me of a cocoon house. Ross Simonini: I was hoping to taste the pepper more, but our collective youth is embedded in the effervescence of this drink.

Melons: 2 oz. Stoli vodka, 1 oz. cantaloupe puree, ¾ oz. rosemary-infused aquavit, ½ oz. fresh lime juice. Shake and serve in a rocks glass. Garnish with a cantaloupe wedge or rosemary sprig. BB: Rosemary takes me to a darker place, even though it’s a summer drink. It oscillates—my mind doesn’t know which flavor to accept. RS: The flavor comes alive in your nasal cavity. It feels like I’m making a conflicted decision between the rosemary and melon, and I need to transform myself to accept them as one. It’s like I’m opening a door. On one side, there’s a forest. On the other, only me.

Nasty Pepper: 1 ½ oz. hibiscus-infused Stoli vodka, 1 ½ oz. pepper-infused Don Julio Reposado tequila, ¾ oz. Cointreau, ½ oz. agave nectar, ¼ oz. fresh lime juice. Shake and serve in a martini glass. Garnish with a lemon twist and lime wheel. BB: It’s like the fires of transformation. The fire just passed through my heart and it’s making its way down. It feels like something new has come through me. May I have your cantaloupe? RS: It’s a conflagration in my mouth. I’m standing on the edge of sour and spicy, and it makes me question whether I’m in one state or another. It’s burning in the back of my throat, as if a crow were pecking its way out of me.

The NewVillager: 2 oz. Stoli vodka, ¾ oz. fresh lime juice, ¼ oz. Crème Yvette liqueur, 4 drops plum bitters, ½ oz. simple syrup, 3 large sprigs of ai basil. Muddle basil with lime juice. Add remaining ingredients, shake, and strain into martini glass. Float the bitters on top. RS: The tartness makes me obsessively touch my tongue to the roof of my mouth. It’s nice, like a crack of light. I’m a house of light and I’m seeing where I’ve never seen before. The basil is making love to a lime on the back of a black sea turtle somewhere between Thailand and Mexico. BB: What Ross really means about light is that he’s a lightweight.

120 mph: ¾ oz. Stoli vodka, ½ oz. Kahlua, ½ oz. espresso. Rim a shot glass with half cocoa powder and half cayenne pepper. Shake and strain into shot glass. BB: This is the recapitulation of the whole cycle. It sparks your consciousness anew. The pepper reminds me of that point of transformation. The heat remains on the lips and makes me want to kiss someone. RS: It’s a mirror, a Jungian shadow of the Nasty Pepper. I’m just going to lick around the circle. Now it’s all coming back to me: I’m remembering that every glass I’ve ever drunk out of has been a circle. The coffee completely wipes away the intoxication and brings you back to clarity. It’s a freeway overpass, the yin and the yang.

The New Remy V: A Truly Delicious Non-gnac

Rémy Martin, the world’s leading producer of “fine champagne cognac,” recently unveiled its new Remy V with a party in the penthouse of the spiffy Mondrian Soho hotel. It was a fun affair, with a cocktail tutorial from master mixologist Charles Hardwick and DJ lessons from DJ Kiss and Paul Sevigny. (Related: I am the world’s worst DJ. Sorry, Paul.) As for the Remy V, it’s a delicious drink, crisp and refreshing, with hints of grape and mint. It’s delightful neat, or mixed into any number of cocktails. But what exactly is it?

Despite being produced by a renowned cognac maker, Remy V isn’t itself a cognac. It’s made from grapes from the top two crus in the Cognac region of France, but it’s not aged in wooden barrels, thus rendering it ineligible for the designation. Instead, it’s filtered using a special process that chills the liquid to 14 degrees Fahrenheit, giving it a transparent color and an ultra smooth taste.

Most of the time, the Remy people call it a “clear spirit,” and if you really dig into the marketing materials, you’ll see mention of a “clear distilled grape spirit,” yet that’s oddly unsatisfying. I want my booze to have a name. Rum, vodka, whisky, tequila: these are things I can wrap my mind around. But “clear spirit”? It’s a bit too vague.

Maybe we can help out by suggesting a few names for this new product category. Unaged cognac? Grape delight? Non-gnac?

I can’t pretend to know the minds of the marketing team over at Remy, but they may have made it intentionally vague. You can’t sidle up to a bar and ask for a “clear spirit on the rocks,” and if you did, you’d probably get a vodka. No, you’ve got to ask for Remy V by name, because, to borrow the most annoying phrase in contemporary English, it is what it is.

But what’s in a name? A booze by any other name would taste as smooth, and Remy V is pleasure on the palate. Like I said, it’s yummers on its own, and the cocktails they dreamed up — like the V-Tini, which adds Cointreau and white wine — are mighty tasty. So who cares what it is, as long as it keeps flowing. Remy V will be available across the country later this summer, and will cost about $40 a bottle.

Checking Out the New Downtown Dream

The culture of nightlife and the culture of hotels is about to change. For years, we have discussed the advantages of nightlife finding a protective home in the bosom of a hotel, with all its services, amenities, insurances, lobbyists, lawyers and all that expensive stuff that operators in non-hotel-based joints need to pay for on their own. Hotels are more than ever before driven by their food and beverage establishments. Plus, they come packed with rooms filled with guests who have the best money there is: vacation money.

Vegas has taught everyone that vacation money flows faster than the local variety. The rebirth of Nevada’s desert paradise was built on a shift from hawking gaming to emphasizing the attractions of their clubs and entertainment.

In New York, Ian Schrager drove home the concept of boutique hotels. The Gansevoort took it to new heights with its roof pool and exclusive Provocateur lounge. Food and beverage was driving its whole shebang. Andre Balasz took it all to the next level with The Standard. But lately, Morgans Hotel Group, with its new Mondrian and re-energized Hudson, has upped the ante.

The collaboration between TAO Strategic Group and the Chatwal father-son team of hoteliers redefines the art and the business of both nightlife and hotels. It is a game changer. The Chatwals, fronted by the fabulous Vikram, have had success with their Dream Hotel uptown, the Stay, and many others. They have pushed their nightlife/restaurant program to drive their places. Greg Brier operated Amelia and Aspen Social Club, designed by me and mine. He has had some success with Aspen, which is still under his control. Greg is my boy, but he isn’t TAO Strategic Group. To list all of TAO Strategic’s properties would require that second cup of coffee, so I’ll just offer some: Marquee (NYC and Vegas), Lavo (NYC and Vegas) Tao (NYC and Vegas), and Avenue. They are entwined in Beauty & Essex, Stanton Social, and even Artichoke Pizza. There’s projects everywhere that are hush-hush for a minute. Now, the Chatwals, with all their connections and experience and desire, have turned to them to make the food and beverage drive for their new Dream Downtown. It will take a dozen articles to describe what I saw when Noah Tepperberg showed me the place yesterday. Construction workers for contractor Carlo Seneca, who for my money is the go-to guy for this high-end construction work, were scurrying around to get it done. Private events start early next week, with the magnificent roof due on the 15th. Carlo will finish. His team takes pride in their work and he’s a guy who says “I’ll make it work” far more often than “I’m not sure I can.”

Noah told me about players to be named later, to help sell the place. He doesn’t need them. I’ve heard these names on the street, even though Noah wasn’t talking, and they’re all major, but the place is the perfect place at the perfect time with the perfect operators, and in the perfect location.

The pool is unreal. Noah says it’s perfect for at least 5 hours a day. The staff was being trained as I toured, and were all bright and eager. The design is genius. The one thing that was emphasized to me was that it wasn’t the attached-at-the-hip Maritime Hotel. Both places have those unique porthole windows. The dream team of designers/architects at Handel chose to clad the building in super-chic metal and bring back the ‘hole’ theme throughout. Most noteworthy are the holes at the bottom of the swimming pool, which has lobby-goers looking above. It’s the place the stuff that dreams are made of.

Rising Star Nicholas Hoult Flexes His Muscles in ‘X-Men: First Class’

It’s still early on a spring afternoon when Nicholas Hoult orders his fifth cup of coffee. “One more and I’ll get the shakes,” says the 21-year-old English actor, who touched down in New York late the night before after catching the red eye from London. He’d drifted in and out of sleep while flipping between two in-flight offerings: The Big Lebowski and a documentary about William the Conqueror. When he finally arrived at his suite in the Mondrian Soho hotel, he tossed and turned until the sun came up.

The fatigue shows, although not on his face. From inside the Hudson Hotel’s Private Park—The Secret Garden as imagined by Philippe Starck—Hoult’s mind wanders. He fiddles with chess pieces and spontaneously breaks into song to stay awake. “I can see clearly now the rain is gone,” he intones, over and over again, in a Barry Gibb-like falsetto. “I heard it on the lift,” he explains, “and now it’s stuck in my head.” He points two fingers at his right temple and pretends to blow his brains out.

Today’s Hoult looks nothing like the sad-eyed cherub who stole our hearts—and Hugh Grant’s—in the nuanced 2002 comedy About a Boy. For starters, he’s rocketed to what he calls a “gangly” 6’3”. It’s no wonder he was chosen by Tom Ford, who directed Hoult in last year’s stylized drama A Single Man, to replace supermodel Jon Kortajarena as the face of his Spring 2010 eyewear campaign. As a child, his visage had all the soft curves of a Volkswagen Beetle, but in the past decade it’s evolved into a Ferrari: clean, angular, and beautiful, with two azure headlights that could stop a deer in its tracks.

Later today, Hoult will fly back to Surrey, where he’s currently filming the big-budget fable Jack the Giant Killer, a retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk for the Xbox generation, which also stars Ewan McGregor and Stanley Tucci. Hoult plays the film’s title character, a farm boy who risks his life to save a princess from a two-headed giant. Of his first leading role, he admits to feeling the weight of a studio on his shoulders. “I was very nervous at the start—I’m still nervous—but I try not to let it get to me,” he says. “Thankfully, Bryan is fantastic.”

That would be Bryan Singer, the alpha filmmaker who, in addition to directing Jack, also helmed X-Men and X-Men 2, and is a producer on this summer’s X-Men: First Class, in which Hoult also appears. Hoult was in Australia preparing to shoot Mad Max: Fury Road, a reboot of Mel Gibson’s star-making franchise (it would eventually get delayed), when he was awakened in the middle of the night by a phone call from his agent. It was good news: he’d been invited to screen test for X-Men: First Class. He boarded the first flight to London to meet with director Matthew Vaughn. “I thought it went terribly,” he says of his audition. He thought wrong. A few days later, he was on yet another flight to Los Angeles to get fitted for prosthetics. image

In X-Men: First Class, a prequel to the billion-dollar Marvel franchise, Hoult plays Hank McCoy, a brilliant scientist with a scholarly accent who mutates into the fuzzy blue creature known as Beast. (For the audition, Hoult did his best impression of Stewie, the diabolical baby from Family Guy, but in preparation for the role he watched countless episodes of Frasier in order to learn from its lead actor, Kelsey Grammer, who embodied Beast in 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand.) “People were stroking my fur on set without even realizing it,” Hoult says.

Heavy petting aside, Hoult missed out, in many ways, on the usual hallmarks of adolescence. Like Real Housewives and megastar athletes, he’s never had to endure a conventional job. The closest he came to working a 9-5 was as an assistant to a friend who deejayed children’s birthday parties. “Sometimes we’d perform the dance to ‘Oops Upside Your Head,’ and if I was well-behaved, he’d let me fade across to a new song,” he says.

Since he first appeared in About a Boy, steady work has kept Hoult from enrolling in university. Still, he says, “I try to keep learning in other ways, like talking to my little sister about history, or reading her essays.” Hoult, who recently landed a plum role in Warm Bodies, Jonathan Levine’s zombie love story, continues to live with his parents (his mother is a piano teacher and his father is a commercial pilot) in his hometown of Wokingham in South East London. He’s in no rush to move out, especially since he’ll spend nine months in Australia next year on the set of Mad Max.

When asked about his movie career and encroaching fame, Hoult’s awkward modesty starts to resemble Jesse Eisenberg’s, the American poster boy for celebrity unease, and an actor with whom Hoult shared a BAFTA Orange Rising Star Award nomination in 2010. Like Eisenberg, Hoult, who detests watching himself on screen, squirms in his seat at premieres and shuts his eyes during certain scenes. He insists that walking the red carpet is terrifying because “There are so many people watching you.” Hoult revisits his fear of being watched several times during our interview, a bizarre, if not unfortunate sentiment for an actor. “I enjoy the acting part,” he says. “But then I forget that people are actually going to watch it.” Unlike Eisenberg, whose neuroses bleed into his characters in everything from Zombieland to The Social Network, Hoult’s nervous energy disappears on screen.

His knack for transformation is most glaring—computer-enhanced mutation notwithstanding—in the no-holds-barred British teen soap Skins. As the shameless schemer Tony Stonem, a role that elevated him to heartthrob status back home, Hoult flashed a mean streak that bordered on nihilism. Tony used his looks and confidence as weapons to dominate—and sleep with—his friends, essentially the opposite of flesh-and-blood Hoult, who comes off, if anything, as overly polite. When he filmed his first of many sex scenes for that show, he did so with the help of some liquid courage. “We grabbed a couple glasses of vodka and some champagne at 8 in the morning, and we just went on and did it,” he says. image

Hoult was relieved when his stint on Skins ended after its second season—“It was the right time to move on,” he says—but was wracked with nagging self-doubt about whether he’d ever work again. “I still worry that I’m never going to get another job. Whenever a new film comes out, I always worry that it’s going to be the one people look at and go, ‘Don’t ever hire him again.’”

Perhaps more than any other project he’s completed, it was A Single Man, and his role as Kenny, a chiseled, sexually ambiguous college student who takes a keen interest in Colin Firth’s suicidal professor, that ensured he’d never again want for parts. Hoult sent an audition tape to the film’s director, Tom Ford, who was then looking for actors to star in his big-screen adaptation of Christopher Isherwood’s acclaimed novel. Hoult, who hadn’t previously understood Ford’s status in the fashion world, admits that he was worried he wouldn’t live up to the expectations of his esteemed colleagues. “I was doing my American accent, and Colin was doing his usual English accent, but I was letting mine slip. I remember thinking, Uh oh, I’m in trouble. But Colin is very relaxed and free, which made my job easy. There’s a fantastic subtlety to his acting, like you can read every thought and emotion that passes through his mind.”

Back at the Hudson Hotel, Hoult suggests we play a game of pool at the nearby Library Lounge. “Care to make a wager?” he asks with a shark-like grin. Timid before, he’s now showing teeth. We agree on 20 bucks, but Hoult keeps insisting he hasn’t got a shot. “I haven’t played in a while,” he says. “On the set of Skins, we occupied ourselves with pool and foosball all the time, had a leaderboard set up and everything, but I’m not very good. Maybe I’ll just lose on purpose, so I can smash this pool cue over my knee.” Grabbing the ends of the stick, he pretends to do just that.

Hoult uses his long, sinewy frame to his advantage, seemingly leaning from one end of the table to the other. While playing, he talks casually about anything that pops into his head: the royal wedding (sadly, he missed it); the ingredients of Jack the Giant Killer’s massive beanstalk (among other things, it’s made of celery and “bags of goo”); the American remake of Skins (he hasn’t seen it); and how excited he is to resume production on Mad Max this winter (extremely).

And then, it’s over. Hoult’s won by a mile. He leans back, satisfied, almost as if he’d intended to hustle me all along. I reach for my wallet, but he protests. “No way! I’m not actually going to take your money,” he says. “That was just to raise the stakes. I’m not much of a gambler.”

Photography by David Roemer. Styling by Christopher Campbell.