Can your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man convince movie audiences he’s a heroin-addicted bank robber? To his mum’s horror, the answer is yes.
In the late fall of 2019, Tom Holland was lying sideways on the floor of a jail cell, sweating, convulsing, throwing up blood. His rusty brown hair had been shaved off; his typically smiling eyes were sunken. Wearing a khaki prison uniform that hung loosely on his frame, he rocked back and forth on the floor, smacking his head against the cement a few times in the process. Then the directors called, “Cut!”
Holland, the twenty-four-year-old British actor best known as Marvel’s friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, the sweet-faced hero of the ever-expanding cinematic universe, was in character for Cherry, a forthcoming film in which he plays an Army medic who returns home from the Iraq war with undiagnosed PTSD, develops a heroin addiction, and starts robbing banks. After filming the scene that takes place in the jail, Holland was a little woozy but still pleased with his performance, so he did what any young person might in a moment of pride: He sent the footage of himself writhing around in the cell to his mother. “Biggest mistake ever,” he says now, grinning. “I was like, ‘This is how my day’s going,’ and she was furious with me.