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The Aftermath of a Civil War

Can you talk about being on the set of Civil War and what you took from that experience and brought to this film?

It felt like there was going to be a camera crew that jumped out and were filming me and was like “Just kidding.” I was still sort of shell shocked. It was such secrecy, and it was a long, long process to get to this final position, and they said ‘Okay, you got the job. Okay, you’re flying down to watch them shoot the scene. Do you have any notes for what their apartment should look like?” And I was like “What?” So you’re quickly just scrambling to wrap your head around what’s actually happening and before you know it, you’re on set watching Tom and Robert do a scene and it’s just unbelievable because that’s the first time that other than screen tests, seeing Peter Parker. I guess what I took from it was “Wow, he’s really good, he’s going to be a great Peter Parker. Don’t screw it up,” and then “Where are the cameras?”

When you were watching that scene being filmed, was Downy already a part of the script or were you like “Oh no, we need to have him appear in our story”?

No, the story was being developed as that was happening, but their relationship was so great in Civil War you kind of feel like you have to keep exploring.

Spider-Man Homecoming Trailer Breakdown

Peter Parker’s Diversified World

This is the first Spider-Man movie I feel like actually looks like America, the other ones have been very, very bleached, but this is very diverse, and it looks like America, and this is a new take on Spider-man because he’s younger and the high school scene looks amazing as well. How early in the process was that a conscious decision or did it just end up like that?

That was a big part of my pitch. The very first thing I made was a look book of what I wanted the world to look like, and what the kids should look like and the high school should look like. I lived in New York for thirteen years, and it should look like a school in New York, it shouldn’t look like a school in the Midwest in the ’50s. So I pulled a bunch of pictures of kids and documentary photos of kids in schools, and that was part of my pitch, and everyone was really into that and followed through with the casting, which is so, so cool, I love the kids.

Building on that, how did casting go? Was it colorblind casting or did you say “We know we want this kind of person for this?”

It was colorblind initially because it was everyone, like any kid ever. We just put them on tape, and sometimes it was…there were some situations were a kid was just great and there wasn’t a specific role for them, but because it’s a high school, we can have so many kids, and it was an opportunity to be like “Well this kid is great, we don’t have a specific role for them, but maybe we should create a small role for them or think of a way to incorporate them in some other capacity.” When you’re developing the story and the script while you’re casting, you can keep an open mind to look for the best kids. That’s what they did; I think I remember reading that’s how Judd Apatow did Freaks and Geeks, where they just sort of looked for kids that were interesting and then shaped the roles around them. A great thing about kids is they’re just themselves and can’t help it a lot of the time. So to be able to craft roles around these kids is better than trying to force someone into a preconceived role.

 

Spider-Man Homecoming Sequel Release Date

All About the Research

Tom mentioned some of the films that you recommend they watch to prepare…

I made him have a coming-of-age film festival.

He listed a lot of John Hughes movies that we’ve heard beforehand that had influenced this movie. Were there any sort of left-field films that don’t fit that mold that you said ‘try watching this one?’ Because when we talked to the Russos on Civil War, they mentioned Se7en as an influence and at the time we were like what does this mean, and then when you see the movie you’re like “Oh that makes sense.”

Right, because a big twist happens at the end that changes everything….Not really. I just wanted them to get the spirit of those movies and know it was okay to be goofy and be a teen. The John Hughes movies…I love Say Anything, I made them watch that, but just being okay to be kind of a weirdo or to be sillier I think. I wanted them to be comfortable to do that and to be awkward. I made them watch Freaks and Geeks, too.

Tom talked about going undercover in the Bronx.

Oh yeah, I made him go to school because he’d never been to a normal school, not even in England. So I sent him to a math and science high school because that’s the kind of school that Peter Parker would go to like a public, magnet school you have to test into. So I made him go, and he was so blown away by how hard the kids worked and how smart everyone was. The thing he remarked on which I thought was such a great takeaway was that everyone was exhausted and that’s what I remember from high school. I remember being so tired. You’re waking up so early and working so hard and then doing so much homework and any extracurricular activities, and you’re just exhausted all the time. SO we made sure to keep some of that spirit alive just writing about being so tired. Like you’ve just woken up…

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Making the Villain a Real Person

Michael Keaton said you took a riskier approached with his character. I noticed he has kid’s drawings on his refrigerator and I feel like he’s the first Marvel villain that has kids and is a father, I’m curious to know where he was going with that risk and why is this character riskier?

 

Well, it’s not that so much as that I like the idea you could have someone who becomes a villain and they’re also a regular person, or starting as a regular person. It’s just a grounded take on where someone like that could come from and where the other people that are a part of it come from, and just trying to root it in something that is believable, so it’s not just this arch-villain plot that comes out of nowhere. I think what he’s referring to are the things that lead him to come to the movie, which yeah, no one wakes up thinking they’re going to be a villain, so I like to take that approach with his character which is “Why is he really doing it? What motivates him?” and to really just understand it. You don’t have to agree with it but you can understand what’s driving him.

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