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Why Tom Holland Was Never The Same After Becoming Spider-Man

Tom Holland was barely an adult when he put on the Spidey suit for the first time to film 2016's "Captain America: Civil War." It was a momentous occasion, as he became the third actor to play Peter Parker in a live-action movie, taking over the role from predecessors Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire, whom he famously teamed up with a few years later for "Spider-Man: No Way Home."

Like Peter, who grew up in Queens, Holland grew up on the outskirts of a big city: London. Before he landed the role that would make him one of the most famous actors on the planet, Holland's career was on a steady upward trajectory in the U.K. Years of dance training secured him a supporting part in "Billy Elliot the Musical" on the West End in 2008, before he took on the titular role for a further two years. After that, it was time for the young star to spread his wings, taking on feature roles in "The Impossible" and "In the Heart of the Sea."

While Holland was doing well as an actor, his mom worried about his future and enrolled him in carpentry school, where he was studying when he auditioned to be a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After a months-long process, he was cast, and his whole life changed. Keep reading to find out why Tom Holland was never the same after becoming Spider-Man.

Everything changed for Tom Holland when he was cast as Spider-Man

Tom Holland famously found out he booked the role of Spider-Man on social media after the 2014 Sony hack. "When this job came in, I've never been happier. It was the craziest day of my life, it was insane. And we were waiting around for what felt like months before I found out," Holland recalled to Collider while doing press for "Spider-Man: Homecoming," his first solo outing as the web-slinger.

Now, Holland has played Peter Parker in six feature films and is one of the most famous actors in the world. His previous acting credits and working with the likes of Chris Hemsworth and Ewan McGregor weren't enough to prepare him for that level of fame. And what's more, he never specifically sought it out. Looking back on his career, while on the "Jay Shetty Podcast," Holland said, "I really do think what's interesting about my career is this was never something I wanted ... it was just a hobby, it was something that my mum would let me do on the summer holidays."

However, somewhere down the line, the Marvel star decided to make it more than a hobby and try acting for a living. "I've been so lucky that I've been, you know, offered jobs ... I decided to go with it," he added. And, thanks to his role as the superhero, Holland has gone on to expand his filmography, working with the likes of Robert Pattinson in "The Devil All the Time," Mark Wahlberg in "Uncharted," and Amanda Seyfried in "The Crowded Room."

Tom Holland's fame skyrocketed and so did his social media presence

Unsurprisingly, as Tom Holland's public profile has risen, so has his social media follower count. As of September 2023, Holland boasts 66.4 million Instagram followers. However, he has a complicated relationship with the platform, and over the years, he has found it difficult to cope with the growing interest in his life and how present he should be on it.

Holland has spoken about his decision to delete the Instagram app from his phone (his account remains active) in an effort to improve his mental health. "It was becoming a problem. I was obsessed with it," he admitted on the "Jay Shetty Podcast." The Marvel star also said he was becoming addicted to the false narrative of his life on social media and constantly caught himself scrolling to see what people were saying about him.

Eventually, Holland knew he needed to take a proper break from the app to prioritize his mental health. However, he was disheartened by how the press reported on his social media sabbatical. "They took the story in the wrong direction. [It] painted people looking for help in the wrong light," he explained. Holland, who advocates for destigmatizing mental health, said people should be praised and supported when they ask for help, not shamed, and he hopes he can be an example of that.

He took some time to grow up properly

Tom Holland's fame skyrocketed when he landed the role of the MCU's web-slinging superhero. He could easily have let the fame go to his head and indulged in everything Hollywood had to offer. But even before he took on Spider-Man, he was conscious of staying true to himself while living in the public eye. Speaking about being a child actor and the challenges that fame can bring at a young age, Holland admitted to The Hollywood Reporter that it's something he thinks about often. "There is something quite worrying about it — the whole sort of, 'What's going to happen to me in the next couple of years?' But I'm pretty certain that I'll remain the same person," he said in 2012 after meeting former child star Drew Barrymore.

Thankfully, Holland's friends and family helped him stay grounded. After growing up on the road for so many years and the whirlwind experience of filming six Marvel movies during his late teens and early 20s, he happily settled down into a more "regular" life. He bought a house in London and took time to figure out how to be an adult. "I needed to do a lot of growing up at home, paying my water bill, paying my council tax, and sorting out my bins and all that sort of stuff that they don't teach you at school," the superhero star explained on the "Jay Shetty Podcast."

Tom Holland fell in love with his childhood crush

Tom Holland's life has changed in lots of ways since becoming Spider-Man. But, while some things (like loss of privacy) may not be for the better, Holland is undoubtedly very grateful to the MCU for bringing Zendaya into his life. He was a big fan of his co-star-turned-girlfriend when he was growing up, even revealing to BuzzFeed that she was his childhood crush. They bonded instantly on the set of "Spider-Man: Homecoming" and developed a close friendship that eventually blossomed into love, with Holland happily proclaiming that he's happy to be "locked up."

In July 2021, the notoriously private couple was outed by paparazzi pictures that captured them kissing in Holland's car, though they were rumored to have been dating on and off since 2017. Whatever their relationship timeline, Holland is the first to admit that he and Zendaya probably never would have gotten together without the "Spider-Man" movies, telling BuzzFeed that moved things along in the romance department. "It definitely helps when the characters you're playing are falling in love with one another. You can sort of blur the lines a little bit," he explained. The two are serious, with Zendaya confirming to The Sun that she and her beau live together when they're not traveling for work.

Tom Holland has a complicated relationship with fame and the press

By the time Tom Holland appeared in "Captain America: Civil War" and filmed "Spider-Man: Homecoming," nearly every movie fan knew his name. He doesn't regret his career choice and the opportunities it afforded him, but he has a complicated relationship with fame and the press. In the early days of "Spider-Man," he looked to Zendaya for help navigating the newfound attention. Although his dislike of his increasing fame has continued over the years, he hasn't grown into feeling more comfortable in the public eye and prefers to focus on his craft. "I really am a massive fan of making movies, but I really do not like Hollywood. It is not for me," he admitted on the "Jay Shetty Podcast."

Holland's fans will know he does as little movie press as possible. He generally avoids the spotlight and the paparazzi and holds back on sharing details of his personal life. Holland's aforementioned 2023 interview with Shetty is a truly rare and unedited insight into his life. A few years before his interview with the life coach and podcast host, Holland was featured in GQ and gave an interview alongside posing for a series of photos. This is another standout interview for the "Spider-Man" star because it's one of so few. Holland spoke candidly about his desire to stay out of the public eye, telling the outlet, "I don't like living in the spotlight. I'm quite good at only being in the spotlight when I need to."

He hates the business side of Hollywood

Going hand in hand with Tom Holland's complicated relationship with fame and the press is his total dislike of the business side of Hollywood. While there may have been a time when the actor was keen to ingratiate himself into different aspects of the U.S. film and TV industry, he now prefers to let his work speak for himself. "The business really scares me. I understand that I'm a part of that business and I enjoy my kind of interactions with it ... But that said, I am always looking for ways to kind of remove myself from it, to kind of just live as normal a life as possible," Holland admitted on the "Jay Shetty Podcast."

It would be easy for anyone to get caught up in the glitz and glamor of Tinseltown, but Holland makes a concerted effort not to lose himself in a world that is so foreign to the one he grew up in. He's said this is still always at the forefront of his mind. And his concerns are made all the more real from lived experience. "I've seen so many people come before me and lose themselves, and I've had friends that I've grown up with that aren't friends of mine anymore because they've lost themselves to this business."

Tom Holland challenged himself with acting roles

The MCU entertains fans with edge-of-your-seat action-packed drama, and there's no doubt "Avengers: Endgame" and "Spider-Man: No Way Home" were two of the most emotional entries in the superhero franchise. However, Holland brings a light, jovial charm to the role of Peter Parker, and at times, his scenes — especially with Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark — have offered viewers comedic relief. The hardest part of his superhero role is the brutal fight scenes, so to contrast that, Holland has since taken on darker roles, which challenge him in a different way.

His 2021 crime drama, "Cherry," directed by the Russo brothers for Apple TV+, tested him as an actor but took him to a really dark place. Afterward, Holland admitted to GQ that it was a truly difficult role. "I had to get it right. This role took me to some of the darkest places I have ever been, emotionally, physically, anythingly ... I would never go back there again, not for anyone. I am pleased I did it, but that door is now closed and locked," he said.

Nevertheless, Holland challenged himself again mentally and emotionally with "The Crowded Room." "I'm no stranger to the physical aspects of the job doing the whole action-movie thing. But the mental aspect, it really beat me up, and it took a long time for me to recover afterwards, to sort of get back to reality," he revealed to Entertainment Weekly.

But they were mentally difficult and Holland took a break from acting as a result

It's now a well-known fact how much of a mentally and emotionally difficult process filming "The Crowded Room" was for Tom Holland. "We were exploring certain emotions that I've never experienced before," he explained to Extra. This may have been made worse by the poor critical reviews the Apple TV+ series received (though Holland said on the "Jay Shetty Podcast" that they don't bother him too much). So, after the year-long project, which also saw Holland take on an executive producer role, he needed a break from the entertainment industry.

Announcing the news he said, "The show did break me ... I'm now taking a year off, and, you know, that is a result of how difficult this show was." Although he also shared his excitement to get stuck into new things, it's clear Holland has been struggling with his career's trajectory for a while. In 2021, he admitted that his long career brought on a pre-midlife crisis that has made him reevaluate his love of acting: "I don't even know if I want to be an actor," he admitted to Sky News. "I started acting when I was 11, and I haven't done anything else, so I'd like to go and do other things." Of course, the Marvel star has done a lot by the time he reached his mid-20s and he deserves a break. We just hope he won't be missing from our screens for too long.

Tom Holland knows what his priorities are

Tom Holland opened up to Jay Shetty about what he'd been up to during his year-long break from acting and explained he's been getting his priorities in order. "I just am really, really keen to focus on what makes me happy, which is my family. It's my friends. It's my carpentry, my golf, the charity that my mom runs ... That is the stuff that makes me really happy, and that's the stuff that I should protect," he said on the podcast.

And, while Holland likes to keep his personal life private, over the years, he's made it very clear how family-focused he is. He discussed what he envisions for himself in the future, admitting that one of his biggest goals in life is to be a parent. Growing up, Holland felt so supported by his parents, "which is why, like, I kind of have this dream of one day having kids and putting my work to bed and just kind of just being there as a dad," he explained.

Acting may have been Holland's calling or just a job he was very good at — and while he has more projects in the works — it definitely doesn't seem like it will be something he will do forever. And certainly, now that he's amassed a net worth of $25 million, he can seemingly retire comfortably at any age he chooses.

He has other career goals too

From his interview with Jay Shetty, it's clear Tom Holland is thinking about his future. However, he's not quitting Hollywood and having kids right away, especially since Zendaya revealed that's not something on her radar yet. The "Spider-Man" star still has a few other career goals he'd like to achieve first. In 2021, he expressed interest in branching out into directing and getting back into dancing.

Directing is something Holland's had his eye on for a long time. Before the Marvel fame, Holland spoke to Zendaya for Interview Magazine and revealed that his 20-year goal was to be a film director. Although he doesn't have any directing projects in the works, Holland's upcoming Fred Astaire biopic marks a shift back to dancing. Holland seemingly manifested the role years ago when he noted to BBC Radio 1 that his favorite type of dancing is tap.

While he thinks he'll quickly be able to fall back into the dancing rhythm of his musical days, he's still got a few new things to learn. "Billy Elliot was very much a kind of, like, scuffy boot kind of tap dancer whereas [Astaire] is very elegant and graceful, so I'll probably have to learn how to do that. But it's something I'm gonna practice, something I'm very excited for, and I think it will be a fantastic film," Holland told Variety.