Tom Holland, known for his portrayal of Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, once embarked on an unusual journey to prepare for his role as Peter Parker, a high school student. In a 2017 interview with Collider, Holland shared the intriguing story of attending a public school in disguise.
Before becoming Spider-Man, Holland had attended an all-boys school in London, a far cry from the experience he sought in his undercover adventure. Marvel sent him to a school in the Bronx under a false name and with an assumed accent for a few days. Reflecting on this unique experience, Holland said, “I basically had to go to this science school and blend in with all the kids, and some of the teachers didn’t even know.”
Holland’s educational disguise involved being a student at a science school, despite his lack of scientific expertise. He humorously recalled moments when teachers would call him up to solve science equations, leading to some rather embarrassing situations. Nevertheless, the experience proved to be enlightening for the actor.
Comparing his London school experience to the Bronx school, Holland noted the striking differences, including attire and the coeducational environment. In London, he attended an all-boys school and wore a suit and tie daily. In contrast, the Bronx school allowed for a more casual and coeducational atmosphere, a departure from his usual routine.
During his undercover stint, Holland took the opportunity to interview fellow students about their thoughts on Spider-Man. Astonishingly, nobody recognized him. He even had videos on his phone capturing candid reactions to the character. Some praised Spider-Man, while others offered more critical opinions, all while unaware that the actor portraying Spider-Man was standing right in front of them.
One of the remarkable takeaways from this experience, according to Holland, was the pervasive exhaustion experienced by high school students. He emphasized the fatigue resulting from early wake-up calls, strenuous work, homework, and extracurricular activities. This insight influenced the portrayal of the high school experience in the Spider-Man films, capturing the essence of students constantly battling exhaustion.
Tom Holland’s immersive research into the life of a high school student provided valuable insights that enriched his portrayal of Peter Parker, making it more relatable and authentic to audiences.