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Spider-Man star Tom Holland on fame, girls and a gruelling schedule

Stars of Spider-Man: Homecoming on dealing with fame

Fronting a Marvel blockbuster like Spider-Man: Homecoming could go to a young man's head.

Yet, the two actors sitting before The New Paper in a Marina Bay Sands (MBS) hotel suite proved to be a pair of regular guys.

Tom Holland, 21, plays 15-year-old Peter Parker - the heroic teen trying to balance school with his arachnid-themed secret identity.

Jacob Batalon, 20, portrays Peter's nerdy best friend Ned Leeds.

The pair were in town last month to promote their new film, which opens here tomorrow.

Directed by Jon Watts, Spider-Man: Homecoming follows a young Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Holland), who made his scene-stealing debut in last year's Captain America: Civil War, as he begins to navigate his newfound identity as the web-slinging superhero.

Thrilled by his experience with the Avengers, Peter returns home, where he lives with his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), under the watchful eye of his new mentor Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr).

When the Vulture (Michael Keaton) emerges as a villain, everything Peter holds most important is threatened.

Holland and Batalon revealed that despite taking part in sequences requiring CGI wizardry, their favourite scenes to shoot revolved around their characters being invited to a party.

The reason?

Despite being raised in very different places - Holland in London, Batalon in Hawaii - the scene resonated with them because of their teenage experiences.

'TEENAGE ANGST'

"It was so fun to be awkward," said Batalon. "It reminded me so much of my teenage angst, trying to bump into the pretty girls and struggling to be cool in front of them, it's crazy."

He may be Spider-Man: Homecoming's leading man, yet Holland said: "I was not smooth and I am not smooth now."

The duo were far from awkward during our interview, though. Both were laid-back - Holland complementing the rolled-up sleeves on his blue shirt with a pair of MBS room slippers, Batalon rocking a casual grey jersey with sneakers.

Sitting with one leg tucked up on the couch, coffee shop uncle-style, Holland described the 14-hour work days on set and how often he would try to steal a nap.

"I got so good at napping. I think I have a picture of me in the Spider-Man suit, on the chair, just sleeping, with the mask and everything. I always find places to have a good nap."

Given the gruelling schedule, you could be forgiven for wondering where they managed to sneak in the basketball games, movie marathons and partying.

It soon became apparent that these were good reasons for Holland's need to nap on set.

He said: "My trailer was like the party bus. Everyone would come around and hang around and have a good time, and then go back to their trailers to sleep. Which meant that my trailer was never a sleeping trailer."

The two mused about how Hollywood actor Will Smith's trailer has two floors and fantasised how big Batalon's trailer should be when it becomes the "party bus".

Aside from scoring the star-making role of Spider-Man (being the first actor to believably look like a high-schooler after previous iterations played by Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield), Holland's star has generally been on the rise.

From starring in the West End production Billy Elliot The Musical, he got his big-screen break in 2012 with tsunami drama The Impossible.

Between stints as Peter Parker in last year's Captain America: Civil War and Homecoming, he was also in the acclaimed biopic The Lost City Of Z.

Holland's father is award-winning UK comedian Dominic Holland, who in 2013 published the book How Tom Holland Eclipsed His Dad.

Having a father used to fame proved useful.

COACH

His dad coached him through showbiz, and now Holland wants to do the same for his three younger brothers.

"I am very lucky to have a father figure but also someone who has been in the industry for close to 30 years and knows the in and outs of what to do."

His youngest brother Paddy, 12, is already trying his hand at auditioning for roles and sends his rehearsal videos for the family to critique.

"I give him acting directions, do whatever I can, like my dad did for me when I was a kid. If I can help my brothers in any way, I will," he said.

As for newbie Batalon, Homecoming is only his second film. Last year, he appeared in the indie horror movie North Woods.

He is the youngest in his family, and landing the Hollywood role of Ned proved a big shock, requiring a special moment to break the news to his mother, sister and two aunts.

"I took them to Applebee's for dinner and told them everything," he said.

"Seeing them cry in the middle of the restaurant was hilarious."

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