Tom Holland interview

“There’s a scene in this film where audiences will feel like they’ve been punched in the face,” Tom Holland tells our group of journalists on the London set of Spider-Man: Far From Home. After spending a few hours watching the filming, it’s clear audiences won’t be the only ones who will feel like they’ve been clocked: Holland’s Peter Parker is taking plenty of hits as he teams up with Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio to fight off the villainous Elementals who are wreaking havoc across the globe.

Near the ruins of a bombed out city set, Holland joined us in a tent on the Warner Bros. lot in London and told us about what it feels like to play Spider-Man in more movies than any other actor, the dynamic between Peter and Mysterio, his efforts to not spoil anything for fans, and yes, a scene that’s designed to take the audience’s breath away.

This film will be your fifth time as Spider-Man, and you’ll have played the character more than anyone else. How does that feel?

It feels pretty good, man. It’s an amazing experience as an actor, and such a privileged experience as an actor, to get to play a character that you love so much time and time again. I definitely have the mindset of: if you want to make twenty of these movies, then I’m down, because it’s really fun. So it’s been a real privilege and so much fun. Maybe even more fun this time around than the last one, so it’s been great.

How is it to go from the Avengers movies, something that big with the huge cast, to come back and do your own movie with your own supporting characters?

The Avengers movies feel so removed from what we were doing in Homecoming and Far From Home, especially. Because obviously, our films are about people who are so grounded in reality, people who are very real. And when you get into the world of the Avengers, it’s the complete opposite. We have characters from all over the galaxy mixing with each other, and it’s a very different feel on set because you have people who are blue and green and Iron Man and stuff. It’s pretty crazy. But this is a bit more low key – I always describe these movies like the biggest indie movies ever made because it does just feel like we’re making a high school movie that happens in Europe.

What’s Peter Parker’s headspace like in this movie?

Love. He’s very much love-driven in this film, and taking a break. This film is all about him trying to take a break, but the responsibility of being Spider-Man always taking over. Which is quite funny, because in the first film we were really keen to show Peter Parker enjoying his powers and really wanting to be Spider-Man. Now we have Peter Parker, who still loves the aspects of Spider-Man, but just needs a break, just needs a holiday like everyone does at times, and that’s not possible when you’re a superhero and you have responsibilities to save lives. So it’s an interesting balance of kind of watching a kid do his homework. That’s kind of how I’m describing it.

The first film had kind of a John Hughes vibe to it. Does that carry over to this movie, or is it more of a spy thriller bringing in Nick Fury and those elements?

This film is kind of like if Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spectre had a baby. That’s how I would describe this film. It has the sexy aspect of being in Europe, having the spy mission undertone, but at the heart of it, it’s still a very similar film to Spider-Man: Homecoming in the sense that it’s really about Peter and his friends and the kids and the lighthearted humor that they have, and what happens when a group of Americans go to Europe. It’s a pretty amazing experience. So yeah, it’s pretty similar, but with a new undertone with super-cool spy stuff.

Spider-Man Far From Home

How’s it been working with Jake Gyllenhaal?

He’s awesome, man. Jake and I got on really well. It’s interesting, because when you hear the word “Mysterio” as a Spider-Man fan, you immediately think “villain.” That’s not the case in our film. He’s sort of a new addition to this world of heroes, he’s sort of my teammate throughout the movie. It’s funny because Jake is such a great guy and we get on really well, and it’s been fun sort of fighting these crazy monsters with him. Imagining stuff is quite difficult when you’re doing it on your own, but when you’re doing it with someone else, it’s a lot easier. Also, every year I have a phone call with my agents where I talk about the five actors I want to work with and the five directors I want to work with, and he’s always on the list. So the fact that I get to work with him on this is pretty special.

What is the dynamic between Peter and Mysterio? How do they interact with each other and vibe with each other compared to some of the heroes he’s already worked with?

It’s very much “big brother, little brother.” Nick Fury is the head teacher who is constantly telling me off. I don’t want to really be there. I want to go on holiday, and Mysterio is always the one sort of sticking up for me and patting me on the back and telling me I did a good job. Which is funny, there are really funny moments in the film where I feel like I haven’t done a good job, and Mysterio’s like, “Good job, kid!” [and I’m like] “Really?” So yeah, it’s fun. It’s been a really cool ride so far.

I don’t know if you can answer this, but has death affected Peter at all?

Next question? (laughs)

What’s his relationship like now that Aunt May knows his secret, which is a big difference from the comics where he was always trying to hide his other life from her? That was a huge reveal at the end of the last movie.

It’s an interesting question. Obviously bigger things in the MCU have happened that we need to talk about, so when we find May for the first time, she’s kind of egging Peter on. There’s a very funny line where she’s talking about, “I hope you’ve taken down” some crime family. She’s in on it, and she kind of understands his power and understands that he’s safe most of the time. When he’s being a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, little harm can come to him. But when he takes on bigger foes, I think she is just as worried as she was in the first one.

When you talk about bigger things happening, some pretty big things have happened. I know you can’t talk about if death might have changed him, but what kind of residual connections or changes or anything like that are there? Is it kind of like Iron Man 3, how Tony was having PTSD, or is it something along those lines that we can expect?

That’s just a fancier worded version of his question. (laughs) You just really beat around the bush there. Next question.

How is it making this movie when there’s this big lingering question? How are you finding it now and what are your concerns going into the next year of promoting this movie with regard to that?

(Pauses) The reason I’m so strict on myself is because I know what everyone wants to know, right? And it is so epic that I would be very upset with myself if I gave away some of the things that are to come. But for us, it’s important to look at what’s happened in the past of the MCU and make sure that they’re still relevant and still present throughout the film, so lots of conversations have been had about throwing ideas back to what happens and stuff, and yeah – it’s still very much a present factor of this film, and it’s something that will resonate with audiences massively.

How important was it to bring Jon Watts back and collaborate with him again?

No one understands this character and these films better than he does. For me, it’s so much easier the second time around, especially because he’s here, because we both know what we need to do. We’ve done it before. In the first film, we were in the same boat because we hadn’t done it before, so we could stick together. In this film, we’re in the same boat, we know how the industry works, so we can stick together and help each other in ways we never knew we could on the first one. It’s just made the whole process a lot easier, because I know going into a scene what Jon wants. So I don’t need to wait for the first five takes for him to figure it out, I just know from doing it so often. It’s just made it a lot smoother process. Where in the first film we’d do twenty takes, now we just do ten because we’re on the same page. I thought the first film was so unique compared to other superhero movies in the sense of how young it was and how diverse the cast was, and it was a no-brainer that the second film needed more of that, so who better to bring back than the guy who did it in the first place? I’m so happy to have Jon back.

Your character is so movie-savvy. Does he go around saying, “I’m in a James Bond movie!” or any other references like that?

That’s kind of a Russo thing, that joke. The movie references stuff. We don’t really have that in this one.

[At this point, things get confusing. One of the journalists mentions a Sixteen Candles photo, but he actually meant this picture where the Homecoming cast recreated the poster of John Hughes’ The Breakfast Club.]

I know the Sixteen Candles thing was sort of on the fly too, right?

The Sixteen Candles thing?

All of you guys were posed like the Sixteen Candles poster, it was like promotional image.

I don’t know what Sixteen Candles is, dude, sorry. It’s so funny – there are two films that I reference in those movies. The first is Empire Strikes Back, and the second is Alien, and I haven’t seen either of those movies. (laughs)

Can you talk about the new black Stealth Suit and what it’s capable of?

It’s awesome. It’s not actually capable of much. We sort of stripped Spider-Man back and now it’s him relying on his powers, but it’s his ability to act like Spider-Man without the world knowing that Spider-Man is there. It’s just an idea that he has to keep his identity from his friends. But it’s awesome. It’s really, really cool. I can go to the bathroom, which is a huge bonus. It looks super cool. It was so funny, we were doing this scene and my grandparents came to watch. I’ve got the Stealth Suit on, and they’re watching on the monitors, and I jump out the window of this building we’re filming in. And they actually had a big platform outside that I could jump out the window and land on. I was trying to convince the crew to, after I jump out the window, everyone rush the window and go, “No! Wait! Wait!” and scare my grandparents, but they wouldn’t do it. They thought it was too mean. (laughs)

Spider-Man Far From Home

What would you say is Peter’s main mission in this when he’s in Spider-Man mode?

At the end of the day, it’s always about saving people and doing the right thing. The world is at risk in this film. I feel like The Vulture was sort of low-level crime, it was under the radar, not many people knew about it. But this is a worldwide event. So the stakes are much higher for him, and he understands that, meaning he has to really show up and bring his A game. But at the heart of the film, Peter Parker just wants to tell the girl he really likes that he loves her and have a nice holiday. But that all gets ruined. Brad gets in the way.

That relationship, we find out in the first movie that that’s the MJ thing. You had a very different working relationship with her in the first one. How has that changed?

It’s been great. It’s been a really really fun film. Zendaya, Jacob, and I sort of become this little trio on camera. It’s just a great dynamic between the three of us. We all get on so well. The characters haven’t really changed at all, so for us it’s a nice stepping off point to explore new things with the characters. And Zendaya’s great – she brings so much new stuff to that character that we know and love so well, and I think audiences will really, really connect with her playing MJ.

One of my favorite scenes in the first one, and it’s in huge part because it’s in a superhero movie and required no superpowers to be an awesome scene, was the scene in the car with Michael Keaton where he figures it out and it’s really suspenseful. Would you say there’s something equivalent to that, anything that you’ve read in the script or shot already where you’re like, “The suspense is high, no superpowers?”

There’s a scene in this film where audiences will feel like they’ve been punched in the face. Even filming it, I remember walking out and watching it again on the monitors and asking Jon, “Are you sure that’s OK?” and he’s like, “No, it’s not. People are going to hate this scene.” But God, it’s pretty crazy. But it’s very similar in the way that it’s very tense, and it sort of whips the rug from underneath your feet. It’s pretty awesome.

Sweet. So what happens? (laughs)

Basically, Batman shows up. It’s a DC/Marvel crossover. (laughs) Anyway, thanks everyone! See you later, guys.

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Spider-Man: Far From Home opens on July 2, 2019.

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