It’s commonly mistaken that British actor Tom Holland is the third person to play a live-action Spider-Man on the screen. Let’s see, there was Tobey Maguire, who did it three times; then Andrew Garfield, who did two more entries in the franchise. But everyone forgets that there was also a small screen Spidey: Nicholas Hammond played him for two seasons on the CBS series “The Amazing Spider-Man” in the late-1970s.
Now that that’s straightened out, here we go again, with 21-year-old Holland taking over the role in “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” which opens on July 7. It’s actually his second outing in the part, since he was introduced as an excitable young protegee to Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) last year in “Captain America: Civil War,” finally bringing the Spider-Man character into the film world of the Marvel Universe, where he could interact with other Avengers.
Holland isn’t quite the new kid in town as far as acting experience. Most viewers first saw him 5 years ago when he was the older son of Naomi Watts in the tsunami drama “The Impossible.” He went on to play the starving and thirsty cabin boy in Ron Howard’s whale movie “In the Heart of the Sea.” Earlier this year he was seen as the son of jungle explorer Charlie Hunnam in “The Lost City of Z.”
Holland is currently in the middle of filming “Avengers: Infinity War” and he’s already signed for the still untitled Spidey sequel that’s scheduled for release in 2019. He spoke about his career and “Homecoming” last week in New York.
Q: Congratulations on getting this iconic role. What were your initial thoughts when you found out it was yours?
A: The thing I had to remind myself most is that Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man had such an impact on me as a kid. He was my role model growing up, so I had to keep reminding myself that I’m going to have the same impact on the kids of a younger generation. So I really wanted to do them proud by making a role model for them, and also make a young, fresh version of a character we know and love so well.
Q: You bring a feeling of more fun and excitement to the character than any of your predecessors.
A: The thing that (director) Jon Watts and I said to ourselves was if you gave a 15-year-old superpowers, he would have the time of his life. And when I made this movie I had the time of my life. So that sort of comes across onscreen.
Q: You’ve been incredibly busy. Have you managed to sit back and relax, maybe give yourself some time to think about what’s going on in your career?
A: I feel like I’ve been in the right place at the right time at every turn. I’ve been so lucky that I’ve got to work with people who I consider are the best of the best, and learn from them. Every movie has been a very different experience for me. I’ve been able to play different characters without having to go too far. But now that I’m sort of finding myself, I’m looking to go a little bit further. This job, since day one, has been a roller coaster. It’s a job that keeps on giving, and it’s never ceased to amaze me, and I’m very happy.
Q: Your bio mentions that you did quite a bit of dancing before you got more into acting. Did that training give you an advantage with the stunts you do as Spider-Man?
A: My dancing and gymnastics background was so helpful to this project because we were able to do things as Peter Parker that they probably hadn’t been able to do in the past. But that said, sometimes they would overestimate my skill set. Jon would say, “Could you just backflip off that wall and land on that beat?” And I’d say, “No, Jon, I can’t do that! (laughs) I’m not that good, dude.”
Q: Peter Parker is met by and taken under the wing of Tony Stark in “Captain America: Civil War.” What do you think of the way Peter’s relationship has developed with Tony in this film?
A: I think the relationship between the two of us is more interesting from Tony’s point of view because he suddenly has someone to think about other than just Tony Stark. He really cares about Peter, and one of the reasons he doesn’t want Peter to become an Avenger is because he doesn’t want the responsibility of something happening to him on his conscience. So it’s a nice sort of back and forth of me saying, “Look, I’m powerful enough to be an Avenger,” and him saying, “But you’re not ready to be an Avenger.” So it’s like a big brother-little brother or dad-son type situation.
Q: What challenges would you like to see Spider-Man face in future films?
A: I’m still getting over the first one; I haven’t thought about the second one yet.
/ Record Star