True believers are still gushing over Spider-Man: Homecoming, the second reboot of the friendly neighborhood superhero and the latest entry in the growing Marvel Cinematic Universe. Reviews have been good, with praises heaped on Tom Holland, the young actor who played the titular role. But did you know that he had to compete against 7,000 hopefuls?
Casting agents met over 7,000 actors who wanted the famous role, and some were even invited to read with Robert Downey Jr., who plays Iron Man and who also played a prominent role in Homecoming. According to co-producer Amy Pascal in Entertainment Weekly, “Having the charisma to have the camera care that you’re even a speck when you’re on screen with Robert Downey Jr. is a tall order.”
It turned out that Holland nailed it. Pascal said, “It was magical from that very first test.”
Director Jon Watts added, “He’s as excited to be playing Peter Parker as Peter Parker is about getting to be Spider-Man.”
Holland may not be as famous the previous Spideys (both Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield already had roles before their runs as the hero), but he is no stranger to acting. He was in the 2012 film The Impossible, but his claim to fame is playing the titular role in the West End production of the musical Billy Elliott. The show followed a young boy who dreams of becoming a ballet dancer instead of becoming a boxer.
Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige said of Holland, “If we searched and said: we want somebody who can be Peter Parker and be Spider-Man in the costume it would have been impossible. We never would have even thought to ask! The notion that Tom could do it and not only be such an amazing Peter Parker but also the best Spider-Man stunt person ever….he’d be giving tips to the stuntmen on how to pose and land!”
Everything paid off, as Spider-Man: Homecoming became a critical and box office hit. Rotten Tomatoes said that it “does whatever a second reboot can, delivering a colorful, fun adventure that fits snugly in the sprawling MCU without getting bogged down in franchise-building.” It also earned $257 million in the box office.
On top of that, Holland is signed for four more films.
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