Meet Tom Holland, Your New Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man

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“Welcome to the sleepy room,” I’m warned as I enter Tom Holland’s hotel room. Holland, as you probably know by now, is your brand new cinematic Spider-Man – and the film he stars in, Spider-Man: Homecoming, is already smothered in extremely positive early buzz. But, yes, “the sleepy room” lived up to expectations as I entered a hotel room filled with five very sleepy-looking teens, and Tom Holland.

(I will admit, trying to conduct an interview while surrounded by teens is a little bit horrifying. And they all seemed nice and didn’t do anything to interrupt, but with Spider-Man: Homecoming being about high school, all of a sudden, I felt like I was in high school again. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt this self-conscious.)

When I meet Holland, he’s doing some very Spider-Man-like stretches on his chair. And here’s the thing about an exhausted Tom Holland: he still has the energy that three normal humans would have. I can only imagine what Tom Holland is like on a caffeine high.

Spider-Man is finally in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and his first solo movie has director Jon Watts making what could sometimes be confused for a movie about teens in high school – and Watts has made it clear he was inspired by John Hughes’ films. We first met Holland’s Spider-Man briefly in Captain America: Civil War, but it’s here in Spider-Man: Homecoming we really find out why Holland got the part. Just like in real life, he’s incredibly charming and he’s got a contagious energy.

Ahead, Holland talks everything Spider-Man. He also reveals that Marvel is bringing back the short films that used to accompany the Blu-rays – and he has his own idea for one that involves Spider-Man and Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man on an adventure in the microverse. (This actually sounds like a great idea.) Also, yes, Tom Holland asked Michael Keaton (who plays the Vulture) plenty of questions about Batman. (And Holland admits he still hasn’t seen The Empire Strikes Back.)

Why is this the sleepy room?

Because I could take a nap. It’s so bad right now.

You’ve had a busy week.

I’ve had a busy month, bro. It’s been pretty crazy, but a lot of fun. I’ve been enjoying myself.

You’re very good at playing a dork.

Thank you.

That seems important for playing Peter…

I am a dork, you know?

I bet you’re not.

I am.

You’re Spider-Man now.

No, I have realized on this press tour that journalists quiz me about Spider-Man all the time, and I get everything right. I know everything about Spider-Man now. It’s crazy.

Like what kind of quizzes? That seems rude to just start quizzing a stranger.

Like who’s Spider-Man’s villain from this series? Or what’s his middle name? Or what’s Aunt May’s middle name? Loads of different things. And I have realized that I am a super geek for Spider-Man.

I liked Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man, but I didn’t always buy this extremely handsome man as “a nerd.”

You can be handsome and a nerd! That’s what the movie’s about, though…

And I’m not saying you’re not a handsome man.

No, no, no, I get that. What the movie’s about, though, is that you don’t have to be a jock to be the cool kid in school, you know? You can be cool if you’re a nerdy kid. And the message that Jacob [Batalon] has sort of brought to my attention – which is something that I feel very strongly about – is that this movie is about loving yourself. If you look at the students who we follow throughout the course of this movie, they’re not the cool kids in school. But they’re all happy to be those kids. You know, they’re very happy in their skin.

And that’s going to resonate with a lot of people, because most people aren’t the cool kid in school.

Exactly. And that’s why I think what Jon Watts did is so cool – especially by making the cast so diverse – is that we can relate to everyone and we can really reach out and touch people from every standpoint. And also, it’s about time that we had a diverse cast in one of these movies.

Looking back at the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies, no high school in Queens looks like that.

This is a real Queens high school, you know? I went to high school here in the Bronx for three days as a research exercise, and it was so diverse and so fun, so great. And Jon really, really nailed that.

So between interviews, I had an hour and I went out to catch a Pokemon…

What did you catch?

A Larvitar, because I’m trying to build a Tyranitar. But when I came back in the hotel, boy, there are a lot of people outside waiting for you right now.

[Holland climbs up on the window to look out.] Are there?

Everyone has pictures of you as Spider-Man.

I think I can see them from here. That’s crazy. I’m not getting used to that.

After this movie comes out, you’re going to be a famous person.

It’s a little scary. I’m not going to lie.

I would be terrified.

It’s a little scary. But, that said, I have got such good people in my corner and I’ll be okay. I’ll be fine.

Is it also exciting?

Yeah, it’s exciting. I really just want people to see the movie….

Oh, people are going to see the movie.

Yeah. But, I’m so proud of it…

I don’t think you have to worry about that. Everyone’s going to see this.

I’m so excited for fans to enjoy it, because I really think they are going to enjoy it. And I just want to share it with them. It’s for them, you know? I did what I did for them. [Laughs.] Well, obviously, for myself, too. I mean, it’s a great job!

That would be funny if you were like, “Nope, nothing for me here. It’s all for everyone else.”

Yeah, just for everyone else.

“The hardship I have to put up with to give you people what you want.”

[Laughs.] “What you want is… remarkable.”

How familiar are you all the references that Jon puts in, because Jon puts in a ton of ’80s references.