Tom Holland is like Tom Cruise — director Jon Watts on the man of action in Spider-Man: Homecoming

J on Watts grew up reading 

  • Published 8.07.17
Jon Watts with Tom Holland on the sets of Spider-Man: Homecoming

J on Watts grew up reading 
Spider-Man, watched the first film (Spider-Man, 2002) being shot right outside his college dorm and is now the chosen one to direct a Spider-Man film! Watts, 35, the man behind Friday biggie Spider-Man: Homecoming took some questions from t2 on email on what went into making the latest film in the webbed superhero franchise. 

Directing Spider-Man is one hell of a job! What was the process of signing on to direct Spider-Man: Homecoming like?
I went into this meeting at Marvel, just the general meeting not thinking they were going to talk about Spider-Man. And then they brought up Spider-Man and the idea that they were thinking about making him 15 and thinking of making a coming-of-age movie. I had been working on my own coming-of-age movie and was very well versed with the genre and someone else started talking about the references and other coming-of-age movies. I have seen them all and was just so ready to talk about it! 

I started coming up with ideas and I think that helped me get my foot in the door initially. I just kept coming back to more and more meetings, more people and then meeting everyone at Marvel, meeting everyone at Sony (Pictures). I had made a mood reel to sort of show the tone that I was imagining, capture the spirit… what I was envisioning for the film and I storyboarded a bunch of sequences…. There is no script that was made up and ya, I met more and more people till I got the job.

Were you always a fan of Spider-Man or did that develop as you were directing the film? 
I was always a fan of Spider-Man. I had this weird Marvel comic tryout book where you would draw Spider-Man panels and you were supposed to send it to Marvel… and if you were good enough, you would get a job! I never did that, but I would draw Spider-Man over and over again as a kid. The first Spider-Man movie came out when I was in the first year of film school (at New York University) and we could actually see them filming the movie from my dorm!

What kind of material influences have gone into shaping Spider-Man: Homecoming for you? 
A lot of coming-of-age movies were good… sort of reference points. It will be a whole day listing you the things I am stealing from! 

So how would you describe this Spider-Man, the youngest that we have ever seen him?
I just think about when I was 15… like everything was like 11. That’s what it felt like. Everything is the end of the world… everything is the greatest thing that’s ever happened. Everything is new. So it all feels so overwhelming. And I wanted to capture that in this movie. You’re just as nervous as you are about talking about the girl or guy that you like. You are as worried about not being able to pass your mid-term as you are terrified of a super-villain that’s about to kill you. It’s all like you haven’t learnt to value things, so it’s all on at once. And that definitely makes a 15-year-old superhero different.

Each day on set must have been a lot of fun. Anything you can pick for us as your favourite moment or scene?
There is a really great screen with Donald Glover (who plays criminal Aaron Davis) that I can’t wait people to see. That’s all I can say… I don’t want to say too much.

What was it like filming the action and stunts? Most of it looks pretty mind-boggling in the trailers… 
We had a great advantage in that Tom (Holland) is an amazing physical actor and we made him do so many more stunts than you would normally do with your lead actor. He’s like Tom Cruise… he’s doing all of his own stunts, even though he is in the suit, because he has such a commanding physical performance. You can’t fake that with a stunt person. So we made him do everything! 

Priyanka Roy