Rising stars Tom Holland and Zendaya are front and centre on The Hollywood Reporter‘s Next Gen 2016 issue in which the “Spider-Man: Homecoming” co-stars dish on everything from the film’s new take on Peter Parker to racial backlash over potential Mary-Jane casting.
Holland, 20, is the latest actor to take on the role of Spider-Man, following in the webbed footsteps of Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, two actors Holland says he looked to before he began filming “Spider-Man: Homecoming”.
“I’ve got five movies that I can draw from,” the British actor says, though he admits he didn’t reach out to Maguire or Garfield personally. “I watched every single one years before I even got cast in this movie. And then we watched them all again and just picked little things that I thought [were] great and that I’d like to keep.”
Holland will be the youngest Parker we’ve seen on screen – both Maguire and Garfield were in their late 20s for their first outings as Spider-Man – and his youth is something that will be addressed in the superhero movie.
“You’ve seen the billionaire, the scientist, the soldier. Now it’s time to see the kid,” Holland explains. “And every decision we make on set is based off how would a kid react in this situation, so every fight scene we have is designed in a way that’s almost child-friendly, so he never actually punches anyone. It’s all done kind of by accident. I think the biggest difference is his youth and innocence.”
Details of the plot are being kept tightly under wraps, though the film is expected to be an origin story, once again detailing how Parker got his powers. So guarded is the plot that Holland’s co-star Zendaya won’t even confirm the rumours she’s been cast as Mary-Jane Watson.
“You’ll find out. It’s funny to watch the guessing game,” Zendaya says coyly.
Zendaya’s casting was met with outcry online with fans up in arms over a Mary-Jane that would potentially be played by a person of colour, but the 20-year-old actress doesn’t seem fazed by the response.
“People are going to react over anything,” she explains to The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s funny to watch the guessing game. But of course there’s going to be outrage over that because for some reason some people just aren’t ready. I’m like, ‘I don’t know what America you live in, but from what I see when I walk outside my streets of New York right now, I see lots of diversity and I see the real world and it’s beautiful, and that’s what should be reflected and that’s what is reflected so you’re just going to have to get over it.'”
No matter who Zendaya is playing, she’s definitely not just a love interest for Peter Parker.
“My character is not romantic. My character is like very dry, awkward, intellectual and because she’s so smart, she just feels like she doesn’t need to talk to people, like ‘My brain is so far ahead of you that you’re just not really on my level.’ So she comes off very weird,” she says. “But to me, she is very cool because she’s deep. She’s always thinking about something, always reading. I like that.”