The words “Tom Holland” and “spoilers” can immediately illicit snickering. There are compilation videos on YouTube of the “Spider-Man ” star accidentally revealing too much about the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
His slip-ups and near-giveaways have become a running joke among his co-stars and filmmakers. The actor found himself in familiar territory with his new twisty, surprise-laden series “The Crowded Room,” now streaming on Apple TV+ — and says by comparison, keeping quiet about Marvel is a piece of cake.
“With Marvel… it’s all about the villain, the costume, the locations, the end result. They’re relatively easy to keep those things a secret,” said Holland in a recent interview. “I know that sounds stupid coming from me because I spoil everything, but with ‘The Crowded Room’ there are so many twists and turns in this show that people won’t be expecting. It really is a puzzle.”
The limited-series takes place in 1970s New York with Holland as Danny, a young man arrested in connection with a crime. His accomplices are nowhere to be found and an investigator assigned to the case (played by Amanda Seyfried) conducts a series of interviews with Danny to piece together his involvement.
Holland and Seyfried filmed their scenes — out of order — “for almost three weeks straight” in an interrogation room.
“It sometimes was confusing. I needed to know exactly where I was in the process with Danny, how much we knew or how much the audience knew and how much (Seyfried’s character) Rya knew,” she explained. “It was tricky.”
Holland credits Seyfried for keeping him on track as they “did over 100 pages of dialogue at that one table in that one room.”
“Amanda is so talented, she’s so professional. She’s able to keep it light when it’s dark,” he said. “There were certain times in that room where we were both just losing our minds, just scenes after scenes, after scenes after scenes. We were just a great team.”
Holland describes the job as “the hardest” he’s had so far and says halfway through filming he “was counting down the days that I could take this year off and have some time to myself.”
“Danny is an exhausting character. Going to those places on a daily basis, having that haircut, shooting on the streets of New York, it was tough. It was not an easy show to make,” but says watching the end result “was so rewarding. I’m happy that I dug my heels in and stuck with it.”
He also served as a co-executive producer for the first time, which helped him to finally understand what the job entails.
“I spent the first 15 years of my career on set being like, ‘What do all of these people do? They’re all just sitting there.’ But having been a producer now myself, it is one of the most stressful things I’ve ever done. You’re shooting in a car and the car breaks down and all of a sudden you’re trying to figure out how to get a new car or how to turn the scene into a walking scene and all that sort of stuff.”
Since beginning his performing career at 11 in “Billy Elliott the Musical,” in London’s West End, Holland says his formal education has been “somewhat non-existent” so he appreciates the learning opportunities he gets from working.
With “The Crowded Room” Holland says “I learned a lot about myself. I learned about my capabilities as an actor. I learned about things that I can put up with. I feel like I’m much more capable at dealing with adversities and fighting against things that are going wrong on set. I learned a lot about mental health. I learned a lot about the power of the human mind and the amazing things we can do to protect ourselves, to heal and to survive.”
—Alicia Rancilio, The Associated Press