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Why 'No Way Home' director saw bringing 3 Peter Parkers together as 'a Spider-Man therapy session’
Director Jon Watts talks assembling Holland, Garfield, & Maguire to make movie magic.
If the power of one Spider-Man comes with great responsibility, then a movie that manages to bring three of them together has an especially delicate task: striking a silk-thin balance between generations of web-slingers on the big screen. For Spider-Man: No Way Home director Jon Watts, setting the stage for movie magic started from the first moment that Tom Holland, Andrew Garfield, and Tobey Maguire all came together to film their first scene.
Speaking recently with Variety, Watts said it was obvious to all three stars from the start that they were about to embark on a special new chapter in Spider-Man storytelling. Bringing together the three modern stars who’ve played the friendly neighborhood wall crawler on film, he said, felt a whole lot like a “Spider-Man therapy session.”
“We sat on folding chairs in a circle and went through the script together,” said Watts, describing the mood as Holland, Garfield, and Maguire first met (along with stars Zendaya and Jacob Batalon) to set out on No Way Home’s epic journey.
“I had talked to everyone separately, but to have everyone together to talk about the story, how the pieces fit together and what Spider-Man meant to them — that was exciting for me,” he explained. “We had the only three actors to ever play Spider-Man in a film, and each had been through so much, on and off screen. It was like a Spider-Man therapy session.”
Knowing how No Way Home would weave together the movie lore of three separate Spider-Man heroes, as well as a pantheon of classic villains, carried a special weight with everyone involved, added Watts. In a way, he said, it was like having a front-row seat as movie history was being made before their eyes.
“Because we had done that work ahead of time, when filming that first scene with everyone, it was great to take a step back and see the crew watching, like they were watching the movie,” he said. “You’re capturing something more than a scene from a movie; you’re watching a once-in-a-lifetime event.”
Watts spoke with Variety’s Tim Gray as part of the outlet’s assessment of No Way Home’s awards-season potential as an Oscars contender. The director said this movie in particular came with higher storytelling stakes than the typical superhero film — and yes, that meant having an elevated Spidey sense about the great responsibility involved in getting everything right.
"No Way Home is about trying to finish this [Tom Holland] origin story and the responsibility that comes with this,” he said. “Peter Parker and Spider-Man mean so much to people and I felt that responsibility.”
More than a month on from its Dec. 17 release, No Way Home is still slinging big numbers at the box office. Sony’s most successful Spidey film to date has racked up nearly $1.7 billion at the global box office through its first six weeks in theaters. With awards season just around the corner, it’s still not too late to catch three web-slingers for the price of one: Spider-Man: No Way Home continues to play in theaters nationwide.