Spider-Man: Homecoming is now playing in theaters nationwide. Starring as the titular web-slinger is 21-year-old Tom Holland, known for his performances in movies like The Impossible and In the Heart of the Sea.
But in addition to acting, Tom Holland also has experience with gymnastics and dance. In fact, this is how he first got involved in the entertainment industry, and this background of his explains his ability to be so physical while filming Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Here’s what you need to know about the dance and gymnastics experience of actor Tom Holland.
1. He Took Dance Classes at a Young Age & Performed at the Richmond Dance Festival
When he was 10 years old, Tom Holland began taking ballet lessons in his garage, according to the Richmond & Twickenham Times. He soon started taking classes at the Nifty Feet Dance School in Wimbledon.
Holland told Interview Magazine that he didn’t really know what he wanted to be when he was young, but his mom thought he could be a dancer.
“I didn’t really know what I wanted to be,” Holland said. “My mom thought I could dance because I used to dance to this Janet Jackson song she’d play when I was a baby. Then she would take me to a Saturday dance school.”
In 2006, Holland performed with his dance class at the Richmond Dance Festival. It was then that a dance choreographer, Lynne Paige, spotted Holland and thought he would be great in a stage play.
At this point, Holland was still 10 years old, and he was attending Donhead Wimbledon College Preparatory School.
2. He Played Billy in ‘Billy Elliot: The Musical’
That dance choreographer, Lynne Paige, thought that Tom Holland would be perfect for a production of Billy Elliot: The Musical.
It took two-and-a-half years from the point that Holland was spotted and when he made his debut as Billy Elliot, though. During that time, Holland went through eight auditions and then trained very extensively.
According to The Sky Kid, Holland with his performance was known for “his agility and his gravity defying acrobatic flips.”
In 2010, Tom Holland performed on the Alan Titchmarsh Show, and video of this performance is available on YouTube.
3. He Says the Billy Elliot Experience Helped Him Prepare for Spider-Man
Tom Holland has since said that his experience in Billy Elliot helped him when it came to work on Spider-Man: Homecoming.
“I auditioned every six months for Billy Elliot and got slightly bigger every time I went, and eventually I got the job,” Holland recalled while speaking to Interview Magazine. “I’m very happy I had that training. It’s been so valuable to my career, and I’ve used it on almost everything I’ve done since.”
In addition, Holland again emphasized how valuable this experience was in an interview with Collider.
“I used to be in a show in London called Billy Elliot, so I was one of the young kids in that, and that’s just one of the skills I learned from there really,” Holland said, referring to his gymnastic abilities. “And I’ve just sort of continued on with it and tried to excel, and it’s gonna help me a lot I think when we come to shooting Spider-Man.”
4. His Gymnastic Skills Helped Him Land the Role of Spider-Man
Tom Holland’s background of gymnastics did indeed help him, as this was one of the reasons he was cast as Spider-Man in the first place.
Holland explained in an interview with The Associated Press that he made sure to show off his physical abilities every time he auditioned for Spider-Man, wanting to give himself a leg up over the competition.
“They gave me two scenes…and I basically did like a somersault into frame, and then a somersault out of frame, because I was like, ‘They may never see this, but if they do, I need them to know that I’ve got some gymnastic abilities and stuff,'” Holland said.
It worked, and Captain America: Civil War director Joe Russo pointed to this as one of the reasons Tom Holland was cast.
“He’s also a dancer and a gymnast,” Russo told Entertainment Weekly. “He fits the part like you can’t believe. Another thing that we were really pushing for was to go young with the part. It’s the only way to differentiate it from what’s been done in the past. Get him as close as you can to the age that [the actor] is.”
Marvel President Kevin Feige also said he liked the idea of casting a Spider-Man who could be very physical.
“The notion that Tom could do it and not only be such an amazing Peter Parker but also the best Spider-Man stunt person ever….he’d be giving tips to the stuntmen on how to pose and land!” Feige told Entertainment Weekly.
When it came to film the movie itself, Holland did a lot of his own stunts, at least as many as the studio would let him.
“I did as many [of the stunts] as I could, but there are some things legally that I couldn’t do,” Holland recently said, according to Comicbook.com. “There were stunt doubles who were all very, very talented guys who really supported me throughout the process. Whenever there was a stunt that I didn’t necessarily feel comfortable about, they would step in and show my how to do it, and coach me through the process.”
5. He Was on ‘Lip Sync Battle’ & Performed ‘Umbrella’
Earlier this year, Tom Holland was on an episode of Lip Sync Battle alongside his Spider-Man: Homecoming co-star Zendaya.
Zendaya, of course, is a talented actor, musician and dancer herself, but her performance didn’t hold a candle to that of Tom Holland, who blew the roof off the place with his performance of “Umbrella” by Rihanna.
Holland’s performance immediately went viral, and to this day, if you Google “Lip Sync Battle,” Google’s top autocomplete suggestion is “Tom Holland.”
In a subsequent interview, Tom Holland said that he was extremely nervous about performing on Lip Sync Battle.
“The funny thing is I was so nervous about doing that show,” Holland said in an interview with MTV. “Obviously, Zendaya is used to being in front of that many people and performing like that, so so she came on and she was like, ‘Thanks for showing me your love…I really appreciate it, I had a great time.’ I came out like, ‘I just want to destroy her!’ Because I was so stressed, so I came across really aggressive in the show. Yeah, I was stressed that day.”