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Why Is Tom Holland So Bad at Choosing Roles?

By Allyson Johnson | Celebrity | June 15, 2023 |

By Allyson Johnson | Celebrity | June 15, 2023 |


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In a recent profile with The Hollywood Reporter, Spider-Man actor Tom Holland was going through it as he read some of the first reactions to the much-maligned Apple series The Crowded Room. Despite many critics noting that Holland’s performance is a highlight in spite of the mess of a story surrounding him, the resounding takeaway was that it wasn’t well-received. It’s easy to want to find the world’s smallest violin when any well-paid actor — especially a straight, white, male actor — complains about critics not liking their work. However, there’s a level of self-awareness in the profile as well as intrigue over Holland’s continued misfires.

He’s a strong actor who could be profiting off of his easy charisma and physicality but instead seems hell-bent on torturing himself with rigorously demanding roles such as Danny in The Crowded Room, taking the idea of “suffering for your art” to new heights. All is well and good, maybe, but only when the result matches the effort put in. In a similar vein was his performance in the Russo Brothers’ college kid art-house film Cherry. In this case, it was more of a miscasting, as Holland sought out a role that was as opposite to Peter Parker as possible.

Uncharted was a bad film — even by video game adaptation standards — but the worst element was easily Mark Wahlberg’s vacuum of charm that sucked the life out of every scene he was in. Holland, again, proved his athleticism in a role that possessed none of the appeal of his Spider-Man character. Chaos Walking was dead on arrival, Onward is cute but forgettable, and The Devil All the Time was divisive.

He’s had a few shining moments, though, which once again begs the question of why someone who fits the bill of having the lowest difficulty setting for getting roles struggles to find ones that suit him. He broke onto the scene with his tremendous performance in 2012’s The Impossible and quickly became a household name as Peter Parker in the MCU. In the latter, he demonstrated his Marty McFly cadence and was allowed to lean into that aw-shucks, out-of-his-depth element that played to the naivety and youthfulness of the character. He’s great in these films.

Of course, something that’s also highlighted in the THR article is the continued joy people get from watching his “Umbrella” performance on Lip Sync Battle, which he seems baffled by. This is the part that makes me wonder if he, or anyone on his team, recognizes what type of talent he is and/or if they believe that by going into darker territory they’ll be quicker to cement him as a formidable actor beyond the Marvel universe. That “Umbrella” performance, with his fluidity of motion and clear confidence, is how they should be leaning — let him be a modern-day dancing man on screen. He’s poised to play Fred Astaire in an upcoming biopic (another odd choice considering the actor’s late wish for his life not to be put to film), but even that is muddled decision-making as he’s better suited to playing someone like Gene Kelly — physical athleticism mixed with grace.

There’s no question he’ll be able to jump back into the swing of things with relative ease. But it’s difficult to look at his filmography and not wonder if either he and his team have bad taste in projects or if Holland has yet to identify what works best for him as an actor. Holland should be going the route of lighter fare — not to say less serious or important — and allowing his charm and vulnerability to shine. The most demanding role to embody isn’t always the best one, something Holland and many other actors could afford to realize.