The Stunning Transformation Of Will Poulter

He used to just be known around the internet as "the actor with the eyebrows," or the guy who makes out with Jennifer Aniston in "We're the Millers," but a lot has changed for Will Poulter in recent years. After co-starring with the "Friends" alum (as well as Jason Sudeikis) in his breakout role, he continued paving his way, eventually working up to highly acclaimed and star-studded projects such as "The Revenant," "Midsommar," and "Dopesick," for which he was nominated for an Emmy, and an episode of "The Bear."

Now, having made a name for himself, Poulter has been introduced to the blockbuster Marvel Universe, appearing in "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" as Adam Warlock and debuting one of the best celebrity fitness transformations to date. If there's one thing we all know about the franchise, it's that the films and series are endless, making 2023 the year that Poulter likely set himself up for monumental fame and fortune.

With such a sudden launch into the spotlight and a filmography that just keeps on growing, many have wondered how the actor's life has led him to such profound recognition and opportunities to work with some of the biggest names in the industry. We'll dive into the stunning transformation of Will Poulter, from his humble days as a West London schoolboy to his remarkable celebrity status today. 

He dealt with dyslexia and dyspraxia

Before Will Poulter came onto the scene, he was a struggling student at the Harrodian School in Barnes, London, which also played home to alumni like Robert Pattinson and Jack Whitehall. At the school, Poulter found his passion for acting. At just 11 years old, he and some of his fellow students worked on a sketch comedy show called "School of Comedy," performing above pubs and at the Edinburgh Fringe before Channel 4 turned it into a hit television show.

But despite his success on stage, the young actor was having a tough time academically. Since he became famous, Poulter has been dispelling myths around dyslexia through his own experience with the learning disorder, as well as dyspraxia, a coordination disorder. Speaking with the The Independent in 2013, Poulter explained how these conditions affected him. "It felt like it didn't matter how hard I tried, I wasn't getting anywhere. That's the most demoralizing thing, as a kid. And to find something like drama, which I loved so much ... it gave me a sense of purpose," he said.

He added, "[A]s supportive as my dad is of what I do now, he was very worried about me. I was years behind [at school]; it was so frustrating to him, because he was an academic, to have a son who just couldn't do it."

Will Poulter landed his first onscreen role at 13

Although Will Poulter had been involved in drama classes at school, as well as an after-school comedy club, it wasn't until he landed his first on-screen role at the age of 13 that he realized acting was something he wanted to make his career. Poulter was cast as Lee Carter in the 2007 coming of age film "Son of Rambow," which centers around two young boys in the early 1980s as they make their own "First Blood"-inspired movie.

In an interview with The Guardian, Poulter explained that because he had been so unhappy in school, the role gave him a lot to look forward to. "I came back every day saying, 'This is what I'm going to do for the rest of my life!' And my parents were a bit like, 'Chill, chill, chill.' But then they looked at my grades and were like, 'It's probably a good thing that Will is going off and doing this alternative summer camp,'" he said.

Poulter and his co-star, Bill Milner, were both nominated for their performances by the London Critics Circle Film Awards for young British performer of the year. They also received nods from the British Independent Film Awards, with each of them nominated for most promising newcomer, giving Poulter his first taste of what was to come.

He dropped out of college to pursue acting

Speaking with the Independent, Will Poulter explained in 2013, that he didn't want his acting career to get in the way of other life plans. "As much as I would love to do roles in big movies and am keen to establish myself in the industry, I don't want to sacrifice things that I really enjoy, like spending time with my family and friends. I'd like to go to university, I'd like to do a bit of traveling," he said.

Poulter did enroll at Bristol University in 2012 to pursue a degree in drama; however, he withdrew the following year. Then, in 2014, he won an EE Rising Star BAFTA, beating out other incredible nominees like Dane DeHaan and Lupita Nyong'o. Seemingly shocked and humbled, he accepted the award, getting emotional when thanking his friends and family. "It's funny, when you're in a category that prestigious, you know, in terms of the talent that's involved, you just, you feel guilty almost. All of those guys could've won it," Poulter said in an interview with BAFTA after he accepted the award. If there was ever a time when he looked back at whether he made the right call in dropping out of college, this may have been it.

Acting was an escape for him

He may be incredibly talented, but as it turns out, acting was a form of escape for Will Poulter when he first started out. He would become so heavily invested in his characters that "[i]t felt like a reprieve from being who I was on a day-to-day basis," he told The Guardian. However, Poulter's tendency to dive headfirst into his roles, he determined, became detrimental to his mental health, and he felt like he had avoided developing his own personality in the process.

While he's chosen a particularly difficult career, Poulter says that he's gotten better at dealing with the psychological toll it can take. In a discussion with The New York Times in 2023, he explained, "[Acting] can be stressful, it can be painful, and plainly speaking, it can be difficult to do and a strain on your mental health, but I also think it's very necessary to reflect on your own psyche and think about its impact on the world around you. It's a lovely psychoanalytical journey that I'm really enjoying." Although he doesn't seem to be as keen on escaping into his characters as he once was, Poulter still wows audiences regularly with his sheer talent and ability to showcase complex characters and their arcs.

Will Poulter has been an advocate for destigmatizing mental health issues

Mental health has been a talking point for Will Poulter for many years, and he's often discussed his own personal struggles. Back in January 2019, he took to Twitter in a candid post to say that he was taking a step back from sharing so much of himself on social media. "As we all know there is a balance to be struck in our engagements with social media. ... It's a balance I have struggled with for a while now and in the interest of my mental health I feel the time has come to change my relationship with social media," it read. He added that he would continue to post occasionally to work with the anti-bullying organization with which he had been previously affiliated.

Poulter was also candid in an interview with Hunger magazine, explaining that his dealings with mental health issues stem back to his childhood. "I was diagnosed with depression, anxiety and OCD, which I still battle with, and I think I was dealing with a lot of those things undiagnosed at school. ... Therapy has helped me realize that I was never really being myself at school. I was chameleoning — simultaneously civil with everyone but friends with no one," Poulter said. His experiences have fueled his initiative when working with mental health charities because he can better empathize now with children who are going through something similar, he says.

Will Poulter has worked with several charities

Not only has Poulter strived to normalize discussions around mental health, but he was also appointed as ambassador of Hammersmith, Fulham, Ealing, and Hounslow Mind (HFEH Mind), a non-profit organization focusing on mental health. In July 2023, students of Chiswick School hosted Mind ambassador Temi Tyrese, who gave a lecture on how to keep mentally well. Little did they know that Marvel's own Poulter was waiting to surprise them, and he too spoke to the students about mental wellness.

Aside from his time spent working with Mind, the actor is also passionate about other important initiatives, including Alzheimer's research. In May 2023, Poulter read the children's book "Elmer and the Gift" during Dementia Action Week in support of Alzheimer's Research U.K. The story incorporates themes of patience and understanding when communicating with a family member who has dementia, and there are talking points in the back of the book that help adults speak to their children about the condition. After his reading, Poulter commented, "Sadly, thousands of families are impacted by dementia every day and talking about it at any age is incredibly difficult. I loved reading 'Elmer and the Gift' in support of Alzheimer's Research U.K. and I hope it will help adults start these important conversations with little ones."

He isn't dating his Midsommar co-star

Florence Pugh wowed audiences with her performance in director Ari Aster's 2019 horror film "Midsommar," in which Will Poulter played her character's antagonist. In the movie, they conveyed a believable disdain for one another, but offscreen, they seemed to get along well. So well, that when Pugh posted photos of the two of them in Ibiza on a group trip in May 2022, rumors swirled that the two were dating.

The actress took to her Instagram story to set the record straight, saying, "This is getting a little silly now. No, Will Poulter and I are not dating. ... We went to the beach with our friends, who are always about a half a meter away from us in every picture." She also joked, "Thanks for saying we look sexy..doesn't mean we're doing the sexy."

Pugh's dating history has mostly been kept under wraps by the actress, aside from her public relationship with Zach Braff. However, one thing's for sure: Poulter is definitely not a part of it. In fact, he somewhat confirmed his relationship status in August 2022 when he was spotted kissing model Bobby T in West Hollywood. Little else is known about their relationship, but they were all smiles and seemed to be truly happy spending time together.

He feels a personal responsibility to contribute to social movements

The roles an actor decides to play can say a lot about who they are, their interests, and what kind of career they want to have. When it comes to Will Poulter, his work has ranged from goofy comedies to dystopian action flicks and dramas with societal commentary. Speaking with The Guardian, he confirmed that he does feel a sort of personal responsibility to contribute to social movements — such as Black Lives Matter or #MeToo — through his work. Poulter said that as a straight white male, "[T]here's a personal responsibility to make sure I'm contributing to those conversations and those movements positively, and that I'm not being a bystander."

Having a social conscience as an actor is important to Poulter, as he told Numéro in April 2023, "I really do gravitate toward projects with a sociopolitical angle. Just because I feel there's a real opportunity with the job that I'm in and with the people that I work with, in the role of storytelling to reflect on society and hopefully impact people's perspective, and in a positive way, motivate progressive action." However, he explained that he doesn't want to put across that he's some sort of activist, either. "If I was an activist, I'd quit my job and commit to activism full time, and that's not something I do," Poulter remarked.

Everyone's always talking about his eyebrows

Known as "the actor with the eyebrows," Will Poulter's distinguishing facial feature is clear, and everyone is always commenting on them. It seems to be a topic of discussion. the actor is getting a little tired of taking part in, as he said in his 2021 interview with The Guardian, "It's funny when people comment on my eyebrows, it's as if they don't realize that's something I'm used to. They're on my face and they are directly above my eyes so I've seen them." But despite the constant comments Poulter gets about his eyebrows, it turns out that they serve a greater purpose in his career. "If I shaved them off, I'd have less of an emotional range, so I just decided to keep them," he quipped.

In May 2023, he told IndieWire, "I am very comfortable and secure in the knowledge that I'm not conventionally attractive as I've always had remarks about looking unusual — whether it's my eyebrows or whatever else, people have made a thing of that." The actor has discussed at length his discomfort with the public discussing his looks and seems to believe that while it's part of having a public persona, the world shouldn't be so obsessed with appearances.

Will Poulter underwent a serious glow-up

There are countless celebrities who were unrecognizable even five years ago, whether it's because of plastic surgery, a major weight loss, or in Will Poulter's case, beefing up to play a superhero in a movie. By all accounts, the actor's glow-up has been truly impressive, having grown up and transformed into the latest Hollywood heartthrob. In spite of the extra attention he's been getting, Poulter has downplayed his transformation, telling The New York Times, "People are acting like I played Kenny Miller in 2013 and then woke up and now I look like I do, like there was some strange and mystical explanation behind it. I just grew up, like every other human being on Earth."

Poulter has also been treading carefully when the subject of his physique comes up. He got into serious shape before filming "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3," and the media became obsessed with his diet and fitness routine. With rumors flying, one of his mom's friends had even wondered if his transformation was the result of plastic surgery. As Poulter explained in his New York Times interview, "I'm being kind of careful in the words, but if you're going to promote the process by which you achieved said body goal, I think you have to be fully transparent about how you got there."

His hard work is paying off

As Will Poulter was building muscle for his Marvel role, he had to make sacrifices in his personal life. "The whole social side of your life has to take a back seat. I'm in a routine that is so rigid that being able to go out for dinner with friends is not something I've been able to do. I'm looking forward to being able to again," he told the The Independent. However, Poulter's commitment paid off as he introduced a new character to the franchise.

As time has gone by, the actor has climbed the ranks quickly and worked with some of the biggest names in the industry, including Jennifer Anniston, Leonardo DiCaprio, Michael Keaton, and Chris Pratt. He's now also won five awards and received 23 nominations in his career, including an Emmy nod. Having accomplished all of this with less than two decades of acting under his belt, it's clear that Poulter's hard work is paying off, and we can't wait to see what he does next.