One of the many joys of watching The Great is seeing the weird and wonderful delicacies the 18th-century Russian elite enjoys. And they do enjoy it, Nicholas Hoult, who plays Peter, confirmed at Vulture Festival. “I eat most of it,” he admitted, on a panel with co-star Elle Fanning ahead of the show’s second season. The one on-set food Hoult didn’t enjoy during season two? “Me and Belinda [Bromilow], who plays Aunt Elizabeth, we were so excited about a scene where we just got to eat ice cream,” Hoult said. “But it was actually made out of like, lard and something else, so it wouldn’t melt onscreen. That was the closest I ever got to being really upset on set, ’cause I was like, ‘This is ridiculous.’” The crew eventually got real ice cream (chocolate for Hoult) from the Tesco by the London set. “Because I can’t chew down lard and color it like I’m loving it,” Hoult explained.
Hoult also ate roasted squirrel during season two, meant to stand in for a rat in the scene. “Apparently squirrel is a delicacy,” he noted, but said “it was pretty gross” when he saw it on set. Meanwhile, Fanning spent the upcoming season eating the foods Catherine the Great craved during her pregnancy: among them rusty nails, dirt, and flower petals. “The rusty nail, I think, we had one that was made of chocolate, and when I would suck on it, it looked too much like chocolate, like it was coming off,” she said. “So I was like, ‘Ahh, all right, we’ve got a real one, let’s bring it in.’” The dirt, she added, was made of crushed Oreos, and the flower petals were made of marzipan — although she also had to swap those for real petals, because “they looked a little bit marzipan-y.”
And the actors’ commitment to making things look real didn’t stop at the food. Hoult revealed later in the panel — after whispering about it with Fanning — that he requested K-Y Jelly lube to put on his face for a scene after Peter performs oral sex on Catherine, “to make it look more realistic.” “It was something I remember, think I stole as an idea from when they were shooting The Favourite,” added Hoult, who played Harley in the film. “So there was a special makeup Ziploc with ‘WAP’ juice.” Catch that, and more TV magic, when The Great season two hits Hulu on November 19.
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