A more ‘chill’ Tom Holland owns the box office as ‘Spider-Man’ star
Next up, he plays opposite Mark Wahlberg in action-adventure ‘Uncharted,’ produces and stars in Apple TV+ anthology series ‘The Crowded Room’ and will play Fred Astaire in a biopic.
Tom Holland, the current big-screen Spider-Man, can count testicular fortitude as one of his super-strengths — no radioactive spider bite needed.
Two years ago, when negotiations between Sony (which owns the rights to Spidey) and Disney broke down, shutting Spider-Man out of future appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Holland reached out to then-Disney CEO Bob Iger to save the deal.
“There was definitely a little bit of liquid courage involved with that exchange,” Holland says. “People seem to think that I was in these business meetings between these huge tycoons, but I wasn’t. I basically just called up one of them and cried on the phone and was, like, ‘Please fix this.’ And he did!”
The 25-year-old British actor’s love for his popular web-swinging character is obvious when he lays it all on the MCU battlefield as Peter Parker in “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” The multiverse-spanning adventure opened with $260 million in North American ticket sales in North America, the second-biggest opening weekend ever, behind only “Avengers: Endgame.”
With OGs like Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans no longer playing superheroes, Holland arguably is now the face of the MCU, though he’ll politely disagree.
“People keep saying that to me, and I don’t know how true that is,” says Holland, who was introduced as Spidey in 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War” and had high-profile appearances in the last two “Avengers” films. “One day, maybe it will be Spider-Man, and maybe that will still be me. Maybe it’ll be the next young kid. I’m not sure. But it’s very flattering to hear that. And it’s nice to see that my hard work has paid off.”
Since Holland’s first audition opposite Downey, “No Way Home” producer and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige says he has seen him maintain a “kind and level-headed” demeanor.
“He has grown and matured even more as a performer and an actor, from literally within the MCU as a wide-eyed kid stepping into this bigger world to now, in a lot of ways, having that world on his shoulders,” Feige says. “And yet with that Peter Parker-esque humility, which really, I think, says a lot about who he is and how he was raised.”
“No Way Home” gives Holland a chance to act alongside some bigtime movie actors: Alfred Molina (as Doc Ock), Jamie Foxx (Electro) and Willem Dafoe (Green Goblin) all reprise their villain roles from past “Spider-Man” movies. Holland especially got a kick out of working through a fight scene with a “terrifying” Dafoe.
“He is a real sweetheart, but I remember when we were doing it, looking at him, like: ‘That’s not Willem. Willem’s gone. Goblin is here to stay.’ ”
The plot has Peter, his girlfriend MJ (Zendaya) and best pal Ned (Jacob Batalon) worrying about getting into college, which made Holland think about maybe going back to school himself.
“I don’t know what I would study,” he says. “Actually getting an education, it would be quite fun.”
A more relatable plot point for him is Peter having his Spidey secret identity outed and dealing with being in the public eye.
On a recent night out in New York City, Holland says he and Zendaya “were followed by, like, 15 people. That’s never going to feel normal. And it’s always going to make me feel funny, but we’re doing it together.”
He counts Zendaya — who, like Holland, has been performing since childhood — as one person who has been “really instrumental in the sanity that I have right now and the fact that I have not lost my mind.”
Holland says he “actually gained a lot more patience” and developed a “chill” attitude this year, “whereas before I used to get really, really worked up about things that are way, way out of my control.”
Next up, he plays opposite Mark Wahlberg in the action-adventure “Uncharted” (in theaters Feb. 18), produces and stars in the coming Apple TV+ anthology series “The Crowded Room” and has signed to star as song-and-dance man Fred Astaire in a biopic. Of playing Astaire, he says he likes the “responsibility” of introducing a Hollywood legend to a younger generation.
“It’s also just nice for me to put the tap shoes back on,” says the actor, who got his start in a West End production of “Billy Elliot: The Musical.”
“We’re still at very, very early stages, looking for directors, which is really exciting. It’s also very stressful. I miss the days where you get a job and just get told who you’re working with.”
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