I don’t know…is that how the kids say it? We’ll come back to language in a minute. Let’s start with Tom Holland on the cover of the new issue of The Hollywood Reporter released yesterday in support of his new series on Apple, The Crowded Room.
Tom Holland is a very big deal. As mentioned recently, he was exhausted a couple of years go ahead of the release of Spider-Man: No Way Home and then the movie came out and it was HUGE and he followed that up with another hit, Uncharted, a couple months later. Also he’s Zendaya’s boyfriend. And he’s in his 20s, a major celebrity living in the time of social media navigating the opinions of millions of strangers every day…
So it’s not surprise that in an act of self-care, Tom announced last year that he’d be taking some time for him and not getting away from the spotlight and basically cutting himself off from social media. Which didn’t meant that nobody talked about him anymore. We still talked about him a lot – because, of course, he and Zendaya are basically the internet’s favourite couple. And now he’s back to work on promotion. So it wouldn’t be unusual upon his return for him to be more reticent, more reserved, the way so many stars temper their enthusiasm as the mature from the early years of their celebrity into proper adult fame.
But that doesn’t seem to have happened with Tom Holland, at least that’s not how his interview with The Hollywood Reporter reads. We open with him talking about the not-so-great reviews for The Crowded Room and he doesn’t hide his disappointment, he doesn’t pretend he doesn’t care. And from there he goes onto explain why it was necessary for him to remove himself from social media – because he was caring too much about what people thought of him, too sensitive about the things that people were saying about him.
But here he is in an interview that will be read by all those people and he remains unguarded and vulnerable. That is, I think, he has remained himself. And that might have been what he was working on over the last year-plus: to protect himself from the pressures of fame without losing himself in that effort. Which makes him as likeable and as appealing as ever.
Because he’s still sharing, this is a GREAT interview. Tom is giving! He’s giving to the culture with the Zendaya drops and he’s giving the nerds what they need with the Spider-Man content. Tom tells THR that he, Tobey Maguire, and Andrew Garfield are on a group chat and they call it… “Spider-Boys”.
Speaking of Andrew though, he’s my favourite part of the interview, and it speaks once again to Tom’s candour, his willingness to be vulnerable. Which is when he reveals what he regrets about how he handled landing the part of Peter Parker/ Spider-Man:
“One conversation Holland still regrets not having was with Garfield immediately after Holland was named the new Spider-Man. “That’s because of my naivete as a kid,” he says. “I was 19 when I got cast. I was so caught up in getting the role that I never took any time to think about what it must have been like for him. If I’d made my second movie and it didn’t necessarily deliver in the way it should have done and they recast me, I would really struggle to bounce back. Andrew bounced back in the most unbelievable way. I just wish I’d called him and just said, ‘You know I can’t turn down this opportunity.’”
He was 19, of course he didn’t have the life experience at the point to make that gesture, to manage success and empathy in the same breath. But this understanding now? It’s growth, and growth comes with being able to go back and revisit how you could have done things differently, and admit it to yourself and to others.
After that, my second favourite detail in the THR interview is… GOLF! Tom, as we know, is an avid golfer. It turns out that he’s trying to get Zendaya into it too.
“He remains an avid golfer and plays almost daily, sometimes even with Zendaya: “I’ve given her a few lessons. She’s very naturally talented, a real athlete, so she picked it up really quickly.”
Not that I doubt that Zendaya is a natural athlete but here’s where I wonder if Tom is looking at Z playing golf with his love eyes, lol, because golf isn’t one of those sports that you “pick up really quickly”. That is, sure, you can go to the driving range and make contact and say, oh yeah, I think I could do this, but golf is a game that will humble you because the minute you’re out for real on the course, that ball is not going where you want it to.
People who’ve been playing golf for decades sometimes find themselves staring down at their club addressing the ball like they’ve never done it before in their lives. You can lose your game from hole to hole. And this doesn’t just happen to regulars, it happens to everyone, even “natural athletes”. Kobe Bryant? A basketball legend. Couldn’t play golf. LeBron James? Can’t play golf. Those two are about as natural of an athlete as you can get. And it means nothing when you have a golf club in your hand!
Ok sorry, enough golf geekery from me. We’ll come back to the Tomdaya love and his 30 Questions with Buzzfeed because Zendaya comes up when Tom is asked about whether or not he has “rizz”. Rizz, if you are old, is what the kids call “charisma”. And Tom apparently doesn’t have any of it…although he says he doesn’t need it because he’s “locked down”, he’s “in love”. So, even without the rizz, he got the girl.