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Tom Holland Ignored His Agent’s Advice Not to Improvise During ‘Spider-Man’ Audition

When Robert Downey Jr. throws out the script, you have no choice but to follow.

Tom Holland as Spider-Man in "Avengers: Infinity War"

Tom Holland as Spider-Man in “Avengers: Infinity War”

©Marvel/©Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection

Had Tom Holland listened to his agent, he might not have landed the career-changing role of Peter Parker/Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. During a discussion with Daniel Kaluuya as part of Variety’s “Actors on Actors” video series, Holland looked back at the “terrible” audition process for Marvel, one that lasted seven months and six separate auditions. Advised by his agent not to improvise during a screen test, Holland ended up making things up after his audition scene partner Robert Downey Jr. threw out the script completely.

“They always tell you that you did a great job and they will be in touch, and then six weeks go by and you’re just waiting and waiting,” Holland said. “Eventually I got a screen test in Atlanta with six other kids and [Robert Downey Jr.] was there. We all tested with Downey, which was crazy. It went so well. It was the best audition I had ever done. Him and I were riffing off each other. My agents had told me that Marvel likes you to learn the words exactly and that you can’t improvise and you can’t do anything like that. I learned the words exactly, and then on the first take Downey just changed the scene completely, so we started riffing with each other.”

Holland called his mother after the audition with Downey Jr. to tell her he was confident he would get the part as it was the best audition of his career, but six weeks went by without a word. When Marvel finally called, it was for another audition, this time a fight test opposite Chris Evans. Holland nailed that too, but he still wouldn’t find out about his casting until weeks later while checking the internet.

“I got my computer, and my dog was sitting next to me,” Holland said. “I type in ‘Marvel.’ I’ve still got the article saved on my computer. It said, ‘We would like to introduce our new Spider-Man, Tom Holland.’ I broke my computer, because I flipped it up in the air. It fell off my bed; my dog went nuts. I ran downstairs. I was telling my family, ‘I got the part! I got the part!’”

Watch Holland’s full interview with Kaluuya in the video below. The actor, starring in Apple’s “Cherry” next month, is reprising the role of Peter Parker in a third MCU “Spider-Man” movie, set to open in theaters this December.

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