Even as it continues to expand, the participants in the Marvel Cinematic Universe have done a remarkable job of keeping certain things secret. For example: Up until recently, even though we knew a deal had gone down between Marvel and Sony to bring Spider-Man into the MCU, it took quite a bit of teeth-pulling for anybody to confirm that the webslinger would actually be appearing in Captain America: Civil War, which arrives on May 6 next year.
But now that we have actual proof that Spidey will be swinging his way through the showdown between Captain America and Iron Man, how exactly will he be participating in the conflict, and just how much of him are we getting?
Marvel Studios is so good about keeping things mum that Tom Holland, the 19-year-old donning the red and blue costume for the film, isn’t entirely sure what Spider-Man is up to. “I don’t even know what Civil War is about,” Holland said during a conversation on SiriusXM’s Entertainment Weekly Radio. “I was only working on it for a week or two weeks or something. So they offered for me to read the script, and I said ‘No, I don’t want to read it, because I’ll be doing all these interviews and I’ll end up telling secrets and stuff. I’ve got such a big mouth.’ So I actually don’t know what it’s about. I’m going to watch this film as an audience member, rather than someone who is in it. I’ll be like, ‘I wonder what my bits are about?’”
Holland, who can also be seen in the new Ron Howard film In the Heart of the Sea (in theaters this Friday), did admit that the hardest work came in trying to actually get the job. After being told Civil War directors Anthony and Joe Russo praised him for bringing his dance and gymnastics experience to the role, Holland noted that those skills played into his auditions. “Any opportunity I got, I was just doing back flips and stuff to try to convince them,” he admitted. “Like, ‘Look Marvel! I’m a gymnast! Please give me the role! I’m so close to sticking to walls now!’”
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To score the role of Spider-Man, Holland did a series of readings before being brought in to work opposite Robert Downey, Jr. “It was so intimidating,” Holland said. “But the thing was, I walked into the room on this soundstage, and they had this little set, and Robert took me aside and said, ‘Listen, I remember my screen test for Iron Man. I remember how terrified I was. Just think of it as an audition. It’s nothing too scary. If you get it wrong, we’ll just start again. No pressure.’ But that kind of raised the pressure a little bit for me. But he was great and super supportive, and because he said he’d been there and had been in the same situation, it made me relax a little bit.”
Holland also read opposite his In the Heart of the Sea co-star Chris Hemsworth, and he looks forward to when Spider-Man may get to cross paths with the mighty Thor. “The Marvel Universe is so huge, and I don’t even know where Thor is right now. He’s off somewhere,” says Holland. “I’d love to cross paths with Chris again. We get along really well, though he’s a little too handsome for me. When I first met him, it was a bit of a ‘pinch me’ moment. I was 16 and a huge Marvel fan, and when he first walked on set, it was a little bit daunting, because he is Thor. But he’s so down-to-earth and so nice and professional and hard-working. He’s an all-around good dude. I thought that Hollywood superstars like himself would just be divas who do whatever they want, and he was kind of the first one I had ever met. But he wasn’t like that at all. He never complained, which is a massive lesson that I learned. I was like, ‘If he’s not complaining, who am I to complain?’”
What would he have complained about? Certainly the torrents of freezing cold water tossed at him constantly while making In the Heart of the Sea, which led to some fascinating fallout with his wardrobe. “After a day’s work, the trousers I wore on that film would stand on their own,” he said. “They would get so wet, and then they’d get rock hard and I could stand them up on their own.”
To hear the rest of the conversation with Holland, tune in to “What to Watch” on Entertainment Weekly Radio (SiriusXM 105) on Monday, Dec. 14 at noon ET. In the Heart of the Sea is in theaters this Friday.