During the Spider-Man: Homecoming set visit last year, we had the chance to interview Spider-Man aka Peter Parker himself, Tom Holland. Together with the actor who plays his best friend Ned Leeds, Jacob Batalon, we chatted about what it was like to star in the newest Marvel film. Apparently, some people won a contest to visit the set and were allowed to sit in on our conversation. They didn’t join in the conversation but seemed to enjoy watching the whole scene play out.
These guys were such a hoot! After I painstakingly transcribed the interview, I tried to cut it down to just the highlights. But, their silly banter was so fun that I just had to share it all with you! Also, I keep forgetting that Tom Holland is actually from England so his accent throws me for a loop whenever I listen to my audio recording of this. 😀
Spider-Man: Homecoming — Interview with Tom Holland and Jacob Batalon
Q: What was your reaction the first time you found out you were cast as Spider-Man?
Holland: That was a crazy day for me. I was in my bed. I had just lost playing golf with my dad and I was just scrolling through Instagram. Marvel had posted a photo of Spider-Man saying, “Go to our website to find out who the next Spider-Man is.” Nah, that won’t be real. They’d ring me. They’d at least ring me up. But I went to the website anyway and opened it up. The first thing there was the new Spider-Man but I closed my computer up because I was so petrified of what the verdict was going to be. I opened it up and it said they had cast me. I lost my mind. My poor dog was so scared of what was going on. It was great. It was so fun. But then my brother, Harry, who’s quite savvy with computers and stuff said, “They’ve probably been hacked, Dude. They’d definitely ring you. So I rang my agents and eventually Kevin rang me up, “We’d like you to be our Spider-Man.” I was like, “I know, Dude. You put it on Instagram.”
Batalon: That’s a dope way to learn, though.
Holland: I was very lucky that I was the first person to find out about it because within an hour it was on the BBC News and I found out before nearly anyone else. So I was really lucky.
Q: Since Spider-Man has “been done,” was it hard to find your own version of Spider-Man?
Holland: It’s difficult to not take influence from what Toby and Andrew did because they both had such special things about the role. I think one of the main things for us is making sure that we see a kid. We’ve seen the billionaire, we’ve seen the soldier, we’ve seen the god. Now it’s time for us to see what the kid can do. That has been the most important part for me in creating a new character — just making me an innocent, youthful, nice little kid.
Q: What has been the craziest thing about production so far?
Holland: Trying to put up with him.
Batalon: I do make the movie better.
Holland: I’ve never been the lead role in a movie before. So it was a bit of a kick up the a**, “So do I get a break ever?” And they were like, “No, no really.” It’s been really great and I’ve been so well looked after and everyone has been very supportive of me. It’s been a really tough road but it’s been made easy by the amazing people that work here.
Batalon: I think what’s great about this movie, too, is that Marvel is such a family. When you work with these people they know you for life. It’s a very sweet and genuine environment we’re in all the time. It’s really humbling to be a part of.
Holland: How much did they pay you to say that?
Batalon: It’s in the contract actually.
Q: I know you are best friends on screen but how long did it take to build this camaraderie since you two are just riffing off each other?
Holland: It was pretty instant.
Batalon: It was from the audition I feel like.
Holland: It’s funny. Today we’re actually shooting the scene that Jacob auditioned with and since then it’s been amazing to see how far we’ve come. From day one we were thrown into the deep end and had a really difficult scene to do. Jon (Watts) was really cool about making sure that we bonded and stuff before shooting. He lives with us now. I’m here with my best friend from home and he came over one night and he just hasn’t left yet. He’s been there for nearly a month and a half and he hasn’t moved out.
Batalon: I’m not going to lie. I did complain about the hotel I was staying at.
Holland: There was one time I was like, “Is he going to go? He just moved in!” We love having him. It’s great.
Batalon: Before we started filming, he wanted us to build this toy together — this huge Lego Death Star. We never completed it.
Holland: We were building the Death Star and got really close. We got to maybe the last third and props were like, “We need the Death Star.” I wasn’t aware that I worked for the props department.
Q: Was it easy for you grasp the New York accent?
Holland: As an actor, I love working in an accent because it immediately separates you from who you are as a person. Being from England, all the tv we watch is American, the music we listen to is American, or the movies we watch are American. So, it’s very easy for me to pick it up at home. But the thing that I found difficult, which I think my dialect coaches really helped me really well with, is making sure it’s a New York accent. We recorded people in New York and picked up little phrases that only people in New York say like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!” I say that all the time in the movie. So we’ve really tried to dial in a proper Queens accent.
Q: Do you ever find yourself going back to your skills? I know you came from Billy Elliot way back. Do you use that dancing or agility skills in Spider-Man?
Holland: Every day. Every single day. Even if there’s not a stunt, Jon’s like, “You couldn’t just do a flip off of that, could you?” Well, if you need me to, yeah. But, why?! He’s like, “Just because it looks cool.” It’s been the most useful skill I’ve learned in my life and has come from Mr. Dave Grant, my old gym teacher when I was a kid. But this has been just a godsend to move and to work with the stunt guys. I had a month at the beginning of shooting where we could train and we did this really cool sequence we collaborated on. It’s been a real help to the movie.
Q: Speaking about stunts, what was your favorite stunt scene that you did?
Holland: I couldn’t tell you because it would give something away in the movie. But I had one stunt where they sent me home, I came to my trailer, and it had been a really long day. I ate the most ridiculous amount of food I think I’ve ever eaten in my life. Then they said, “No, wait. We’ve got one more shot with you. Can you put the suit on?” I said I might have a bit of a food baby but, yeah, sure. They put me in a corset harness as well, which is like a kevlar vest which you have to tighten up really, really tight. I was wondering why I am wearing this, for what reason would they put in a harness. They said, “We’re going to sit you on your feet and then pull you head first 30 feet off of a drop. I said I just ate a lot and don’t know if I should do this right now. We did it. It actually looked really bad and there’s no way they’re ever using it. But that, for me, was the scariest thing of the whole shoot. I thought I was going to throw up in the suit.
Q: What’s it like wearing the suit?
Holland: It was one of the most amazing experiences of my whole life. The first time I put it on, it was really difficult to remain in it for such a long time. The suit’s so tight that the mask kind of pulls down on my nose. We found a really quick way to get out of it but the very first week, I wouldn’t go to the toilet all day because you really can’t take it off. It takes ages and you need three people to help you out of it. I always have to remind myself that whenever anything is uncomfortable, there’s a line of actors that would kill to be in my position. So I’m so grateful. As much as the suit is uncomfortable, it’s the coolest thing I could’ve ever asked for.
Q: What does it mean to you guys to be in, not just any movie, but a Marvel movie?
Batalon: This is the first huge thing I’ve done and I’ve never been pampered so much in my life. It’s kind of crazy in between takes with hair and makeup always tending to you. I’m not used to that stuff and it’s kind of annoying with people all up in my business. But it’s something you get used to.
Holland: To be a part of one of these movies is mind-blowing. I remember watching Iron Man for the first time when I was nine. I could never have imagined that I would be here today.
Batalon: You’re Spider-Man!
Holland: I know! But the funny thing is, my best friend Harrison, since five years ago we’ve had an argument about who would win in a fight — Spider-Man or Batman. I always thought Spider-Man would win. Now I can be like, “You know how I know that Spider-Man would win? Because I am Spider-Man. When you’re Batman, we can have the same argument.”
Q: Did you read comics as kids?
Batalon: No, I’m not into comics that way.
Holland: Not to a great extent but for this. There’s a Marvel app where you have everything. I started off reading Spider-Man comics and then ventured off into other comics. I loved Wolverine, Deadpool was great, the Avengers, I read Civil War obviously. My phone is littered with screenshots from the comics. We had a pose the other day which didn’t look quite right on the side of the wall and I remembered something from the comics. I showed Jon a photo and immediately he was like, “Right, let’s change everything.” We changed the wires and recreated the photo from the comics. It’s nice being able to have that power. And Jon’s so behind it.
Q: How do you relate to your character in real life?
Holland: I think one of the reasons Peter Parker is the most favorite superheroes for kids is that everyone can relate to him, especially boys. Everyone goes through not doing your homework, trying to ask the girl to the dance, being late for school. The whole high school bit of his character arc is so relatable. For me, I never did my homework (*whisper* this is probably not good for a mom blog…). To be a kid lost in the world, every kid is like that at some point — I was and I’m sure you were. For me, it’s been really easy to recreate that feeling.
Batalon: For the most part, I thought it would be hard going high school things all over again since I did not enjoy high school. It’s been fun living that innocence and sincerity. Peter and Ned are such sweet kids and it’s nice to be that part again.
Holland: I went to a high school in the Bronx for two days undercover with a fake name and I put an accent on. American high schools are so different from the school I went to. I had to wear a suit and tie every day, it was just boys. It was crazy to experience it on a completely different level was so amazing and so helpful for the movie. I was trying to document it all and make a little gag reel so they could use it for the credits of the movie. And there’s a video of me in a classroom filming myself and the teacher’s behind me. He sees me filming and he throws a board marker and hits me in the back of the head. I felt so like back at school again. I was always a real goody-goody in school and I thought I’m going to be like that kid that just doesn’t listen and stuff. As soon as the teacher told me off, I was like, “Yes, sir! I apologize!” I suddenly became a 15-year-old boy. It was funny.
Q: Action movie meets John Hughes film. Have you had those moments where you felt like you were doing a classic high school?
Batalon: The first two weeks we were shooting was literally at a high school, doing all the high school scenes. The week after that is when you started going some Spider-Man stuff. That’s when it really started to come together. At the beginning, it felt like we were doing an indie movie since there were not special stunts or nothing. But when he started putting on the suit, that’s when everything started getting serious, that’s when the green screens came in.
Holland: One of the nice things about the action sequences is that you are still constantly reminded that it’s a John Hughes movie. As soon as I do something really bada**, that all goes terribly wrong and I make a mistake, I don’t look bada** anymore. This is the coolest but least cool Spider-Man you’re going to see for a long time.
Q: Have you gotten kind of star struck with any of the more seasoned actors you’ve worked with?
Batalon: Marisa Tomei is in this film and I have a couple of scenes with them. I’m not going to lie. I am definitely so attracted to this woman. She’s really beautiful and she’s really funny and sweet.
Holland: This is going out to the world.
Batalon: I want the world to know. So, I did try a little extra hard when she was working with us. That’s all I’m going to say because I don’t want to embarrass myself.
Holland: I think you’ve done that though. For me, we had a really surreal experience yesterday with some of the guys. To see them work together is a real privilege. To see it firsthand was amazing.
Batalon: As an actor, you appreciate people who have done this for a long time and watching their work. I couldn’t even believe what I was watching.
Q: How is it like working with Robert Downey Jr.?
Holland: He’s so fun to work with. He’s so cool. He’s like, “Oh, I changed all your lines.” It’s great though. He’s a real actor. We work together, we sat together and he was like, “Where are we going to take this?” And we workshopped it together and we decided which path we thought the scene should go down. He pitched it to the producers and the directors and it was great. I really think we came up with something that is really special and definitely the fans are going what we came up with. It’s great to work with someone like that who has the ability to bring their own thing to set. He’s also a bada**. Robert Downey Jr. is Iron Man.
Batalon: He was teaching me moves like how to get out of a headlock yesterday.
Holland: And kung fu. At one point he punched me in the arm a little too hard. He was teaching us kung fu and stuff and it was really fun.
Q: If you could take anything from the set from filming, what would you take?
Holland: Robert’s Audi.
Batalon: Definitely, his watch too.
Holland: Wink, wink.
Batalon: On set, there’s a Millennium Falcon that they built and I want that.
Holland: If I could take anything from set, I would probably take…
Batalon: I’d take an assistant.
Holland: I’d take the suit home but I couldn’t put it on on my own and it’d kind of be pointless. No, they have a foam mannequin of myself which is really weird. So I’d probably take that and the suit and put on the mannequin and put it in a glass box somewhere.
Hope you enjoyed the interview with Tom Holland and Jacob Batalon! I’ll have more juicy Spider-Man info to share coming up! Here are links to the other “now I can share it” coverage!
- Set visit announcement
- Interview with Co-Producer Eric Hauserman Carroll
- New York Press Junket coverage
- Spider-Man Homecoming movie review
- Interview with Producer Amy Pascal and Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige (coming)
Spider-Man Homecoming will be in theaters on July 7, 2017!
- Visit the official website: http://www.spidermanhomecoming.com/
- Like on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SpiderManMovie
- Follow on Twitter: https://twitter.com/SpiderManMovie
- See on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/spidermanmovie/
I was invited on an all-expense paid media trip in honor of Spider-Man Homecoming from Marvel and Sony. All opinions are my own.