For those of you heathens who haven’t seen Avengers: Infinity War yet, be warned—there be spoilers hereafter.
According to an Uproxx interview with directors Joe and Anthony Russo, while the climactic moment of the film was very much scripted, Peter Parker actor Tom Holland expanded upon the inherent sadness with substantial improvisation that arguably made the ending as memorable as it was.
If you’ll recall, Spider-Man was among those fatally affected by Thanos’ villainous population-control-inducing finger-snap, which erased half the life in the universe. “I think what was scripted was, ‘I don’t feel so good,’ and, ‘I’m sorry,’ and everything in between is Tom,” said Joe Russo.
He went on: “We kept pushing it on set farther and farther with the emotional performance that we wanted. And part of it was improvisation on Tom Holland’s part.” Russo is referring to Holland adding gut-punches like Spidey telling Tony Stark, “I don’t want to go,” after giving the 21-year-old actor a simple direction: “You’re a child and you don’t understand.”
The director pair added that a lot of groundwork for the relationship between Stark and Parker onscreen was rooted in the offscreen mentorship Holland was given by Robert Downey Jr. “Ever since we introduced the new Spider-Man in Civil War, Robert has been a very active mentor to him,” said Anthony Russo. “And not just outside, but in the moment and in the scene while acting.” Anthony Russo couldn’t help but express what a remarkably skilled actor Downey Jr. is, and that he was a big reason Holland was able to achieve such a wrenching performance.
“He can do remarkable things,” said Anthony Russo. “And he will dance with Tom on a performance level that is amazing and that was one example of it. He’s a very giving performer and he really helped us find that moment with Tom.”
There you have it, folks. Tom Holland isn’t just a lovable face that can accurately portray the boyish Queens kid who becomes a superhero—he’s also a gifted young actor who understands what to do in emotion-heavy scenes in order to give them some memorable weight. I think it’s safe to say we haven’t seen the last of him yet.
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