Weekend Herald - Canvas
An Episode With: Tom Holland
The actor tells Michele Manelis about how his mum came to Spider-man’s rescue
This film is your fifth Spider-man, how does it feel?
It’s amazing to be doing this for the fifth time. It feels like yesterday that I got cast in this role, and here I am doing it again. Of all the films I’ve done in this [Marvel] universe, this one I’m most proud of. It was the hardest one to make; it’s the biggest feat and the biggest risk we’ve ever taken with the character.
Why the hardest?
Because the expectations are so high. We’re coming off the back of [Avengers] Endgame and we don’t want to disappoint in any way, so we knew the stakes for us as film-makers were much higher. And physically, we really pushed the stunts to the limit in this film. I don’t want to compare myself to Tom Cruise but there’s a sequence in the film, in Venice, where there is an entire action sequence and I’m without a mask on so I had to do 90 per cent of the stunts myself. Stuff like pole vaulting up a 9m bridge, running across poles and flipping off buildings. It was really crazy. I got a few knocks and bruises but it looks great.
How has the Spider-man suit evolved during the years?
It’s funny. The one thing I asked for was a zipper so I could go to the bathroom and they didn’t give me one. The biggest change was in the first one I had to wear a helmet and it broke one day and cut my face really badly. We had to reconfigure that so the helmet under the suit was much more comfortable this time round but I was still unable to go to the toilet. On the first film, I spent 11 hours in the suit one day and I rang my mum and said, “Mum, I had a really tough day today. I had the suit on for 11 hours and I didn’t go to the toilet.” She hung up the phone a little bit angry. The next day, the producer walks up to me and he goes, ‘Hey Tom, can we talk?’ I was like, ‘Sure, yeah, what’s happened?’ I thought I was in trouble. He goes, ‘Your mum called yesterday, and she basically said to me, you need to let my son go to the toilet!’ So, good old Mum was looking after me. Now that you’re an established action hero, I’m guessing women are falling over themselves to meet you?
I don’t really know how to answer that question. I play golf an awful lot. I haven’t really noticed a difference, to be honest. I think I’ve done very well in my career of being in the spotlight only when I need to be. I very rarely go to a premiere of a film and I very rarely go to a high-profile party. I like to live a regular life when I’m not doing this irregular job.
What have you been able to do since the success of Spider-man that you couldn’t do previously?
When I was 12 years old, I went to New York for the first time with my dad. We were walking down the street near Central Park where there are some really nice art dealers and we saw these amazing brass sculptures of people without a torso. They look like they’re floating. Dad said to me, ‘We should buy one of those.’ But obviously, because it was super-expensive, we couldn’t afford it. And every time I’ve been to New York lately, he always tells me that I should buy one for my house. So I bought him one for his 52nd birthday. I’ve got a great video of me unveiling it in front of my dad. He is a very proud man and you could tell he was really trying to keep his emotions in check. That was an amazing moment.
Spider-man is a high school kid. How did you do in high school?
I was a good student at school. I had bad attendance because I was working all the time. I didn’t fit in very well because I started working professionally from when I was 11, so I grew up very quickly, being surrounded by adults all the time. I’d go back to school and be like, “Well you’re all a bunch of idiots.” I always enjoyed subjects like design technology.
So you had that to fall back on?
Yes. All of my mum’s side of the family are carpenters, so I always enjoyed that.
As a matter of fact, I went through a stage in my career where I must’ve gone for 50-60 auditions and didn’t get a single job, so my mum packed all my bags and sent me to Cardiff, Wales, where I did this carpentry course. So, if all else fails, I’m a qualified carpenter. Spider-man is screening at cinemas now.