AFTER the success of Spider-Man: Homecoming, the titular superhero is back for another splendid adventure that surely doesn’t disappoint. In the lead as Spidey is English actor Tom Holland, who also reprises his role as the friendly neighbourhood wall-crawler’s teen alter ego, Peter Parker.
Sony Pictures and Marvel have doubled down on everything that made the first outing such a refreshing take on the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Once again directed by Jon Watts, Spider-Man: Far From Home remains an epic adventure filled with action and comedy.
Shooting through last summer at London’s Leavesden Studios and on location across Europe, the new movie sees Peter zipping from Venice to Prague and then London on a school trip, only for his holiday to be interrupted by the business of saving the world once more.
Soon after he touches down in Europe, a series of devastating attacks by giant elemental creatures are suddenly on his itinerary. As well as trying to get a bit of culture and further his friendship with the elusive MJ (played by Zendaya), Peter must team up with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and the enigmatic Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) to discover what lies behind the attacks in a world forever changed after the events of Avengers: Endgame.
In this respect, Holland, 23, says that Spider-Man: Far From Home is a more ambitious project. And it’s only fitting since the London-born actor has now become a household name. He first came to attention after taking the lead role in a West End production of the musical Billy Elliot, which came with two years of dance training that would serve as a good foundation for superhero acrobatics.
Holland then won rave reviews for his performance alongside Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor in the 2012 drama The Impossible.
But Holland has since ascended to hit a veritable high note in his acting career after he was cast as Spider-Man. The dashing lad has made the role his own after donning the famous suit in Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, aside from the standalone Homecoming movie, and is now ready to continue thrilling fans of the superhero with the latest onscreen adventure.
Spider-Man: Far From Home will contain a few twists along the way as Peter teams up with the no-nonsense Nick Fury and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) and a new superhero in the shape of Mysterio to piece together what is going on.
Visually, the movie will also come with a new Spider-Man look, in addition to the iconic red-and-blue suit. At the movie’s core, it will feature Peter taking on bigger physical and emotional challenges as well. These would including things that stem from matters of the heart. The relationship with his longtime crush, MJ, will be addressed too. So there’s plenty to look forward to in Spider-Man: Far From Home.
Below, Holland talks about the big screen thrills to be had in this latest installment.
HAS PETER PARKER GROWN UP AT ALL?
I think we are seeing a very similar Peter Parker to the one we saw in Spider-Man: Homecoming. I really enjoyed in the first one the aspect of seeing a teen with superpowers, I really want that to come across again. He is still a 16-year-old, who just wants to enjoy himself.
WHAT HAS COME AS A SURPRISE WITH THE SEQUEL?
The fact that we get to shoot it in London was a nice surprise. The first one was Homecoming and I shot it thousands of miles away and this one is called Far from Home and I'm 40 minutes from my home. I am actually not staying at my home; it's still a bit of a drive to the set. The script presented this massive-scale movie, but it was also a pleasure to read something that you know will surprise the audience too.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT DOING NEARLY ALL YOUR OWN STUNTS?
I don't do everything. There are some things that I just can't do and I am very happy for my double to do it if he can do it better. If there is a version of the stunt where it just looks better with him doing it, then he should do it for the sake of the movie.
But sometimes there are things where we can just rehearse it and work really hard. I don't know if you saw the pole running stunt I did, well there was one which was way impressive. We were just able to rehearse it for weeks and weeks meaning I was able to do it. We tried so hard to get it in one shot and I hope we did. I love doing my own stunts. It comes with a nice adrenaline rush. If it makes the film better, then I am all for it.
IS THERE ANYTHING IN PARTICULAR THAT YOU ARE REALLY EXCITED FOR FANS TO SEE?
The action is bigger than the first one for sure. But the film is definitely bigger than the first one. The action in the first one we were able to keep it quite contained, I don't feel like it was a worldwide event.
This one, with Spider-Man unable to keep these events a secret, is far more global after the events of Avengers: Endgame. So the spotlight really is on Spider-Man, whereas in the first one, I felt he was flying under the radar.
WHAT IS THE DYNAMIC LIKE WITH NICK FURY AND WHAT HAS WORKING WITH SAMUEL L. JACKSON BEEN LIKE?
Working with Sam is great, really, really fun. I have been such a big fan of his, not just since the beginning of the MCU but very early on in my life with Pulp Fiction. It is an interesting character to see on screen with Peter Parker, because obviously Peter is kind of upbeat and Nick Fury is scary; kind of like Robert Downey Jr, just without the sass. What can I say, it's been a fun ride.
WHAT IS PETER’S RELATIONSHIP LIKE WITH MJ?
It's really cool. We get to see in more detail a relationship blossom than we did in the first one between Peter and Liz. It's been fun. MJ's character is the same as she was in Homecoming, but we are just exploring it more. And I think audiences will really connect with her and the way that Zendaya is playing the role will broaden the amount of people who can relate to her character.
HOW HAS IT BEEN WORKING WITH JAKE GYLLENHAAL? YOU SEEM TO BE SURROUNDED BY VETERANS ALL THE TIME.
I am very lucky with the people I get to work with. I have these meetings with my agent every year — we sit down and go through a list of actors I would like to work with and a list of directors I would like to work with and Jake has already been on the list. So the fact that we get to do it in this circumstance is fantastic.
He's amazing. Every actor I have ever worked with has a switch. When they say action you can tell that they are acting. But Jake doesn’t have that. He’s seamless in and out of character. Sometimes it is quite disconcerting because you think he’s just talking to you, then you realise he is doing the scene right now. I have learnt a lot.
DO YOU FEEL YOU NEED TO UP YOUR GAME WHEN YOU ARE WITH SOMEBODY LIKE THAT?
You find that with acting it is similar to playing tennis. If you are playing tennis against someone who is really good, you sort of rise up to the occasion. You try your best to play better. It is a similar sort of thing with acting. When you are working with someone who is that good, it makes you think more about minor details you have made for the character and you try and piece things together. It has been a real privilege.
WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION TO THE NEW STEALTH SUIT?
It is great because I have more access and I can take my mask off. And it looks so badass. Really, really cool. It's a really cool one because it is such a different avenue to take with a character like Spider-Man. He wears red and blue. And that is kind of it in this film. And for us to take him down this different path is definitely something audiences will be very excited about.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE SCENE SO FAR?
We shot this very funny scene between Jacob, Zendaya and me, all one shot and it is sort of midway through the film and it is very stressful. It is really funny, I can't tell you anything about the scene, because it is kind of a spoiler, but Jacob is so funny. I remember Zendaya and I were off camera for Jacob's close-up and we may as well not have been there because we were laughing so much. I just turned around at one point because Jacob was making me laugh so much.
IS THERE A LOT OF IMPROVISATION WITHIN THAT GROUP DYNAMIC?
Jon is such a great director to work with because he allows you to do a 20-minute take of absolute nonsense, but that 30 seconds at the end could be gold. He really does create an environment where his actors can make mistakes creatively, which sometimes directors don't do. This is nice on a film of this scale, and he is not afraid to go, "Oh no, let's do it 20 times to see it we can get it right.
HOW HAS IT BEEN CONTENDING WITH A DIFFERENT KIND OF VILLAIN THIS YEAR?
“Yeah, it's interesting, because when Jon first pitched me the idea, I thought, wow, fighting big monstrous elemental creatures that is a big jump from the Vulture. But when you see the effects and what they are planning to do with these monsters, it really is quite a breathtaking feat.
Peter Parker has the same thought as I had when I found out it was monsters — he really doesn't understand what is going on, and how Spidey can defeat them in this post Avengers: Endgame world. It is not until later when he is hanging out with Nick and Maria, and then Mysterio that they team up to piece together this crazy thing that is going on.
The Elemental Creatures are definitely an exciting version of villains.
Courtesy of Sony Pictures Entertainment (Malaysia)