‘Spider-Man’: Why Tom Holland Wasn’t Allowed to Do All His Own Stunts
When you see Spider-Man in action in the recently-released Spider-Man: Far From Home, how much of it is Tom Holland under the suit? The truth is, sometimes it’s a stunt double, sometimes he’s entirely CGI, and sometimes, it’s a blend of the latter two.
Unless you’re watching the movie at home — and that won’t be for a while yet — you’ll probably be hard-pressed to tell the difference. Holland talked about the matter while promoting the previous movie: Spider-Man: Homecoming. The new movie was made by the same team, including director Jon Watts, so what held true then most likely holds true now.
In short, they let Holland do as many stunts as he can, but for safety reasons, certain ones had to be left to stunt performers.
Not all of Spider-Man’s stunts are performed by Tom Holland
CBR compiled a list of Marvel actors who performed their own stunts, and Holland was among them. While he did perform some, he certainly cannot do them all.
“I did as many [of the stunts] as I could, but there are some things legally that I couldn’t do,” Holland told Comicbook.com. “There were stunt doubles who were all very, very talented guys who really supported me throughout the process. Whenever there was a stunt that I didn’t necessarily feel comfortable about, they would step in and show my how to do it, and coach me through the process.”
Tom Holland’s favorite stunt
Nevertheless, that really was Holland running up a steel beam during a fight with the Vulture, played by Michael Keaton – or maybe his stuntman.
“My favorite stunt to perform was where I had to run up this steel beam and stop at the top,” Holland told IGN. “And I secretly asked George Cottle, my stunt coordinator, if I could jump off at the end, and he said yes.”
Such things come naturally to Holland, who is also a trained dancer. He played in the show Billy Elliot, about a dancer torn between his art and his family, on the London stage. Spider-Man: Far From Home will mark the fifth time he’s played the role, a record among Spider-Man actors.
Why do actors get stunt doubles?
Rules about stunt performers have become even more strict than they already were. Wikipedia lists some 30 stuntmen, in addition to some actors, have died while the cameras were rolling.
Probably the most famous example of this was Twilight Zone: The Movie. In 1982, actor Vic Morrow and two child actors — My-ca Dinh Le and Renee Chen — died when a helicopter got caught in an explosion and crashed on top of them. A number of the filmmakers, including director John Landis, were charged with manslaughter but were acquitted.
Pilot Art Scholl died in 1985 while performing a flat spin stunt on one of the planes in Top Gun. He could not recover from the spin and crashed into the Pacific Ocean Neither the plane nor his body was found. The film is dedicated to his memory.
Then there was Brandon Lee, son of Bruce Lee, who died on the set of The Crow in 1993 when a gun that was improperly loaded and checked fired a dummy projectile. No one was charged in that incident, which was caused by a series of neglectful mistakes.
The most recent example of a stunt death in the movies was on Deadpool 2, where stuntwoman Joi Harris died in a motorcycle crash.
Hollywood is working on improving safety for stunt performers and actors
Last year, SAG-AFTRA, the actor’s union, rolled out new standards and practices for film and TV stunt coordinators. This was done after two-stunt related deaths in 2017 and a growing protest from stuntwomen about stuntmen donning wigs and women’s clothes to double for actresses.
“SAG-AFTRA stunt coordinators are the industry professionals that exemplify the highest standards in safety and practicing of the stunt coordinating craft,” the union said.
This will leave the actors to only those stunts they feel comfortable with performing.