21-year-old English actor Nicholas Hoult has come a long way since he made a name for himself as the charming lad Marcus in the 2001 film About a Boy. He appeared last year in Clash of the Titans, has landed the role of the titular character in Jack the Giant Killer, and will portray a young Hank McCoy/Beast this summer in X-Men: First Class.

Enthusiasm for Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men prequel has improved significantly since the official X-Men: First Class trailer was unveiled, and these recent comments by Hoult should only help in that regard.

Most fans consider X-Men: The Last Stand to be a fairly weak entry in the franchise – however, it’s hard to argue that Kelsey Grammer’s incarnation of Beast in the movie wasn’t pretty much spot on with the character, as originally envisioned by Stan Lee. Although Hoult’s version will differ by having a more feline physique (which in the original comics was the result of Beast’s second mutation), the young actor told Bleeding Cool that he still looked to the Frasier star for inspiration.

Here’s what Hoult had to say, with regards to Beast in X-Men: First Class:

“He’s very intelligent, obviously, and creates great inventions. But there’s also this side of him where you have this conflict of wanting to be normal and wanting to fit in… And then there’s also the side, once he becomes the Beast. There’s a Jeckyll and Hyde aspect, where he’s scared of what he’s capable of.”

“In [‘X-Men: The Last Stand’], Beast was a politician, and he’s been in this place for a long time. In [‘X-Men: First Class’] he’s young and he’s a scientist. And when he changes, that comes with quite a bit of anger and embarrassment.”

Hoult’s comments about his Beast not being the confident mutant that Grammer’s was in X3 also gels with claims by Vaughn (who Hoult good-heartedly refers to as “a big jerk”) that First Class will mix Twilight young adult drama with political intrigue in the vein of the Cuban Missile Crisis drama, Thirteen Days.

Vaughn also previously mentioned that First Class will in part play out like a cross between an X-Men flick and a James Bond picture. Hoult admits that at first he found the Bond angle a bit curious while filming First Class, but that it ultimately was a fitting approach to take. As he put it:

“The Bond thing is a good idea. [‘First Class’ is] definitely not ‘A-Team’. It’s a film that has its background in the great era of the 1960s. There is drama, and there are thriller aspects. It’s character-driven by Magneto and Xavier, because it’s about their relationship. It’s epic, but told with the characters in mind.”

First Class landed a spot on our Most Anticipated Movies of 2011 list and it boasts an overall impressive cast that includes Hoult, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Rose Byrne, January Jones, Jason Flemyng, Jennifer Lawrence, and Kevin Bacon, among others. The film is slated for theatrical release this summer on June 3rd.

For more from Hoult about X-Men: First Class, including some tidbits about his other upcoming projects like the Mad Max reboot, and how Beast was brought to life via a mix of CGI and prosthetics, check out the full interview with Bleeding Cool.