There's no shortage of buzz when it comes to Spider-Man's forthcoming debut solo outing in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Spider-Man: Homecoming. With production now in full swing, potential plot and character details are beginning to emerge, the most recent of them being an ambitious sounding scene where Spidey swings heroically from a helicopter.
However it appears that the new actor behind the webslinger, Tom Holland, still found time in his schedule to help out film-making pal J.A. Bayona behind the scenes on his upcoming feature, A Monster Calls. The movie, based on a book by Patrick Ness, concerns a young boy struggling to deal with his mother's terminal illness and his own daily troubles, who then encounters a humanoid tree who helps him cope with life's hardships.
Those who caught A Monster Calls at the Toronto International Film Festival this month may have noticed a subtle shout-out to Mr. Holland as the credits rolled - and when THR asked the director exactly what Tom's role in the production was, Bayona revealed that "he was the stand-in for the monster." Holland and Bayona previously worked together on The Impossible and the actor then performed his stand-in duties on A Monster Calls, to do his friend a favor.
The titular monster in A Monster Calls is voiced by Liam Neeson but is, visually, a computer generated character. In such instances, it's common practice for someone or something to be physically present on set to represent the CG character and therefore give the actors a focal point to look at and talk to during their scenes. What isn't common practice is for said stand-in to be one the most promising young actors in Hollywood and a star of Captain America: Civil War.
Despite not being his usual day job, it appears Tom performed his new role to an acceptable standard, with Lewis MacDougal, the young star of A Monster Calls, claiming “It gave me something to look at when I’m talking to the monster." And given that J.A. Bayona is lined up to direct the sequel to Jurassic World, you'd imagine there will be plenty more monster stand-in work for Tom, should he fancy it.
Although Holland's Marvel schedule this year must have been relatively manic, it's admirable that on a day off, he still had time to help out a buddy on a project that couldn't be much further away from the world of superheroes and comic books. Having said that, the monster Tom stood-in for was a giant talking tree; perhaps Groot has a Liam Neeson-voiced brother we don't know about...
A Monster Calls opens in select U.S. theaters on December 23rd, 2016, before it goes into wide release on January 6th, 2017.
Doctor Strange opens November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man: Homecoming – July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; Avengers: Infinity War – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – March 8, 2019; Untitled Avengers – May 3, 2019; and as-yet-untitled Marvel movies on July 12, 2019, and on May 1, July 10, and November 6 in 2020.