Nicholas Caradoc Hoult was born the third of four children of Glenis (n?e Brown), a piano teacher, and Roger Hoult, a pilot for British Airways. His siblings are James, Rosie and Clarista, and his great aunt was actress Dame Anna Neagle. He attended Ranelagh Church of England School in Bracknell, Berkshire, but left in year 12 to focus on his acting career.
Hoult was first spotted at the age of three, sitting in the audience with his mother at a play. The director noticed and suggested that he should try out for one. He attended the Sylvia Young Stage School, made his professional debut in the 1996 film Intimate Relations, and worked mainly in television, until the success of About a Boy, in which he played a 12-year-old boy named Marcus, alongside Hugh Grant's rich London lothario.
While at sixth form, he gained a lead role as Tony Stonem in the first two series of E4 drama 'Skins'. Hoult was nominated for a Walkers Home Grown Talent Award for this role. In 2004 he appeared in 'Mystery Hunters' and in 2009 he made his stage debut at London's Trafalgar Studios in 'New Boy', which is based on the novel by William Sutcliffe.
In August 2009, Hoult participated in the Help Give Them A Voice campaign. He played an adolescent girl in a short film released to support the campaign. Also in 2009, Hoult appeared in the Tom Ford movie 'A Single Man', based on the novel of the same name by Christopher Isherwood. At the 63rd British Academy Film Awards, he was nominated for the Rising Star Award but lost to Kristen Stewart. Hoult replaces Jon Kortajarena as the face of Tom Ford eyewear for the spring 2010 collection.
On 25 March 2010, he appeared in the video to The Midnight Beast song Lez Be Friends. On July 8, 2010, it became public that he had been cast in the role of Beast in the 'X-Men' spin-off, 'X-Men: First Class', directed by Matthew Vaughn. MTV Networks' NextMovie.com named him one of the 'Breakout Stars to Watch for in 2011'.
In February 2011 it was reported that Hoult was offered the lead role in Jack the Giant Killer.