Next Gen 2015: New Spider-Man Tom Holland on Jake Gyllenhaal, David Ayer and Why He Won't Leave London
The 19-year-old Brit, who will next star as the webslinger on the big screen, says of role model Gyllenhaal: "I just haven’t seen a film that Jake has been bad in. He makes clever and creative choices."
A version of this story first appeared in the Nov. 13 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
In nine years, London-born Holland has gone from starring in the stage production of Billy Elliot to surviving a tsunami with Naomi Watts in The Impossible to landing the role of Spider-Man, who first will appear in 2016's Captain America: Civil War. "I filmed two movies during the audition process," he says of the lengthy Marvel and Sony bake-off while he shot Pilgrimage, an adventure revolving around monks, and Backcountry, a father-son thriller co-starring Joel Kinnaman. "I wanted to make sure that my focus was 100 percent on those films and it wasn't hindered that I was auditioning for Spider-Man. The hardest thing for me was the not knowing and waiting for that phone call and thinking, 'Did I get to the next stage?'" That call finally came in June. His first move after that? Joining Charlie Hunnam and Robert Pattinson in Lost City of Z, which brought Holland to the jungles of Colombia. The movie wrapped only three weeks ago and he's now happy back home in London, his favorite city, although who knows for how long, as the next gig is surely around the corner. "I don't really live at home enough, frankly. I'm always working and traveling overseas. So it's quite refreshing to come back to my family."
The moment I knew I wanted to be an actor: "It wasn't until I was halfway through my run on Billy Elliot that I decided that acting was something I wanted to pursue."
My industry role model: Jake Gyllenhaal. I just haven't seen a film that Jake has been bad in. He makes clever and creative choices. He's someone I want to work with in the future.
My worst habit on set: I drink too much tea on set. I drink about eight cups and there's only so much caffeine that a 19 year old boy should take in, you know?
TV show I'm addicted to: I was addicted to Sons of Anarchy until I started working with Charlie Hunnam [on Lost City of Z]. It was too weird to watch it and to work with him. He had a different physical presence since he had lost a lot of weight for the movie we were doing and also it was odd to watch someone on a show while working with them. So I kind of put that on hold and now that we're done with that movie I need to get back in.
Actor/director I'm dying to work with: Martin Scorsese. He's the best. But at the moment, I would love to work with David Ayer. I'm a huge fan of his work. And earlier, I worked with Jon Bernthal, who was in Fury, which Ayer directed. He was obsessed with Ayer and would tell us stories. He seems like someone I would get on well with.
My worst audition: The worst audition I ever had was when I was around 9 and I was auditioning for Romeo & Juliet at my school. I tell you now, I went out for every single role in that show, every single one, and I ended up getting the servant of the servant No. 2. It wasn't my most heroic moment. I am going to return to the drama department of that school [Donhead Preparatory School] and help out and do a workshop. I love that school — it's where my rugby team was; I love the teachers — so I've got to do my part and help out the kids that are there.
My hidden talent: I don't have any hidden talents. I'm kind of still searching for them. I know I must have some hidden talent but I've yet to find it, you know?
Role I would've loved to play: Leonardo DiCaprio in The Basketball Diaries and Edward Norton in Primal Fear are two roles for young men that really stand out. Those two showed everybody who's boss, really, and they are such great performances.
If I weren't an actor: I would probably be a carpenter. My mum's side of the family are carpenters, and at the beginning of the year, I didn't really have much work going on so my mom shipped me to Cardiff to go do a carpentry course to keep me busy. My grandpa and I are now planning to build a shed in our garden.
My Hollywood pet peeve: It's just so far away. I love London and I don't think I'd ever move out of London. But L.A. is where the heart of the industry takes place. It's just a long way away.
Career goal: I have a vague plan of where I want to be in 5 years but my overall goal in life as an actor is to never moan, really.