Holland has spent six years as Spider-Man. If he chooses to, he could easily do another 20. He is still two decades younger than Robert Downey Jr. was in Iron Man.
“I’ve talked to him about doing, like, 100 more,” Pascal tells me. “I’m never going to make Spider-Man movies without him. Are you kidding me?”
Holland, however, isn’t so sure. “Maybe it is time for me to move on. Maybe what’s best for Spider-Man is that they do a Miles Morales film. I have to take Peter Parker into account as well, because he is an important part of my life,” he says. But also: “If I’m playing Spider-Man after I’m 30, I’ve done something wrong.”
He has other ambitions. “He talks about being James Bond a lot,” says Jacob Batalon, his Spider-Man costar. “A lot a lot.” He’s been writing a script with his brother, Harry, and is currently gearing up to shoot The Crowded Room, an Apple TV+ drama about dissociative identity disorder. Pascal told me that she wants Holland to play Fred Astaire in a forthcoming movie (which might be a rare perfect casting). But after that? Holland doesn’t know.
If he could, he’d spend six months backpacking around Europe. He’d go clubbing, get “sloppy drunk.” He’d go to Glastonbury, stand in the middle of the crowd, feel again what it’s like to be just one person in a mass of joyful bodies. He would, in other words, be a guy in his 20s, exploring what it feels like to be alive. “I just can’t do that,” he says.
He’s certain of something: “I definitely don’t think I want to be an actor for the rest of my life.” Before Hollywood, Holland briefly trained as a carpenter, a craft he still loves. “I’ve always been really good with my hands. If something’s broken, I can always figure out a way of fixing it.” He has this romantic idea of “buying apartment buildings and renting them out cheaper than they need to be, because I don’t need the money.”
Lately, Holland has had another dream. It’s a variation on a common theme: He’d met a woman, got her pregnant. Once, he’d have found it terrifying. “You don’t know what you’re going to do. How am I going to tell my mum and dad?” But this time he wasn’t nervous at all. “After, I thought… I kind of miss my little girl now.” Holland has always wanted to be a father. “I’d be very content with just being a stay-at-home dad, and producing a film here and there,” he says. That’s not to say that will happen right now. “I might start shooting The Crowded Room and go, ‘You know what, this is what I’m going to do for the rest of my life.’ Or I might do Spider-Man 4, 5, and 6, finish when I’m 32, and never make another. I’m not sure what I want to do.” That’s the point. He’s in control.
“Now as I’m getting a little bit older, I’m like, It’s good to have things to work for. Just don’t give 100 percent of your energy towards it,” Holland says. “I’m trying to live my life a little bit more freely.”
Oliver Franklin-Wallis is a writer based in England.
A version of this story originally appeared in the December/January 2022 issue with the title “The Center of the Web.”
Photographs by Sharif Hamza
Styled by Mobolaji Dawodu
Grooming by Larry King
Tailoring by Michelle Warner
Set design by Sean Thomson at The Magnet Agency
Set assistant, Maximilian Kindersley
Produced by Farago Projects
Location: Peckham Liberal Club/Location Collective