Tom Holland: We're all such good friends, so it is a little bit hard to focus on work ... it can be very unproductive
After a tragic turn in Avengers: Endgame, Tom Holland, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon and Jake Gyllenhaal run riot across Europe in the new film Spider-Man: Far From Home. Here, they sit down with Laura Harding to talk about the lighter side of Marvel
Tom Holland, Zendaya and Jacob Batalon are all squished into a narrow hotel corridor. There is hugging, there is joking, and there is the swapping of stories about the night before.
If this is the dynamic between the raucous trio, it seems to be a miracle they ever managed to make a film together, let alone two.
"It is a little bit hard to focus on work," British-born Holland (23) admits sheepishly, after he is finally bundled into a room and seated in a chair.
"We are all such good friends and like anything, doing it with your friends is always very unproductive.
"But that is why Jon Watts (director of both Spider-Man: Homecoming and the new Spider-Man: Far From Home) is in charge and that's why he's the leader and he helps us get stuff done."
Zendaya (22) laughs. "Occasionally I think Jon has had enough of us," she jokes.
"But he's like one of us, he's like one of the kids, so it is very rare that the teacher side of him has to come out."
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While the Avengers films have been plagued by doom and gloom in recent instalments, Spider-Man is distinctly more sunny.
This proves to be literally true in the new caper Far From Home, which follows on from the tragedy of Endgame, as Peter Parker (played by Holland) and his pals MJ (Zendaya) and Ned (Batalon) embark on a European school trip.
As Peter grapples with the loss he suffered, he sets his mind to having fun with friends, but he can't dodge calls from Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) forever and must turn his attention to a new threat facing a world that has changed forever.
"Peter definitely wants to be a regular teenager again," Holland confirms.
"He can't wait to take a break and go on a vacation with his friends. But he soon realises what deep down he always knew - that, no matter where Peter finds himself, he belongs in the Spider-Man suit."
The film saw the actors criss-crossing Europe, zipping between Venice, Prague and London, where they drew a predictable amount of attention from bystanders.
"It's kind of cool because these films attract the fans when you're shooting on location, so it's nice to have them show up, it's almost like doing a stage play," Holland says.
"But there is also a lot of us shooting on historical landmarks where people don't care that we are there and really just would like to enjoy their vacation and we are just in their way," Zendaya adds.
"Like, 'I'm trying to enjoy the scenery and can you guys move your cameras out of the way?' We had to lock down a bridge that we were shooting on when we were in Prague, and people were just trying to walk across the bridge to go about their lives.
"We had to keep stopping them while we did our scenes. They would call 'cut' and finally let everybody go through, but then they would stop them again. I felt so bad."
A new addition to not only the cast of Spider-Man but also the Marvel Cinematic Universe is Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio.
The Oscar nominee has not made a big-budget blockbuster since 2010's Prince Of Persia, instead focusing on smaller projects such as End Of Watch, Nightcrawler and Velvet Buzzsaw.
"I made a pact with myself a number of years ago," he says, "where I said I need to know that there is something in a character that I really can discover and that would challenge me but that I could also do well at.
"I have spent a number of years honing in on characters that I love and working very hard on them and then this came up and I thought, 'Oh he's such a wonderful character to play'.
"Their take on it was so great and so were the discussions about how collaborative I could be in creating him and I just loved that, so to me that is the perfect creative relationship and I jumped in."
Gyllenhaal announced his casting in December last year with a video of himself reading a comic book, captioned: "I just realised I'm not playing Spider-Man."
He laughs at the memory.
"I still haven't given up on that! But I don't know a human being who is a Spider-Man fan who has given up on the fact they could be Spider-Man one day.
At 38, his age might be one of the obstacles between him and his dream of playing a schoolboy from Queens.
"It's like when the possibility of me performing in Romeo and Juliet passed me by, those are sad days," he says mournfully. "And there have been a number of those that have happened."
But joining a comic book franchise brings with it a raft of new challenges, not least keeping the lid on spoilers.
"When I am thinking about a character, or working on it, I feel very, very private about the choices I'm making," he says.
"Some of them are just in my own mind but I always feel a sense of privacy of the things I'm doing that I don't want people always to know.
"So there is something similar there, but I also think you feel you're a part of something that a lot of people are anticipating that always gets you more excited.
"It actually drums up the energy to play a character, maybe in a way that isn't normal."
- Spider-Man: Far From Home is in cinemas now