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SYFY WIRE Uncharted

Why'd Tom Holland bulk up so much for 'Uncharted'? Because Mark Wahlberg ‘was so much bigger’

Holland went almost 20 pounds above his Spider-Man weight to flex like Nathan Drake.

By Benjamin Bullard
Uncharted PRESS

Even when it’s not a movie actually named Uncharted you’re prepping for, being an actor can still take you into uncharted territory. Whether it’s Tom Cruise doing his own high altitude, low opening (HALO) jump for Mission: Impossible — Fallout, or Christian Bale dropping close to 60 pounds to play the emaciated title character in The Machinist, going all in is all part of the deal to get committed actors closer to their characters.

For Tom Holland, long known for gliding with ease between a scrawny teenage Peter Parker and his Spider-Man alter-ego, looking the part as Nathan Drake in Sony’s upcoming Uncharted movie came with an added dose of reality: He had to do it opposite Mark Wahlberg (Sully), whose big-screen history tracks more along the muscular lines of Magic Mike than the silk-thin seams of a Spidey suit.

Naturally, that meant Holland wanted to look bigger and badder for his Uncharted role. In the Naughty Dog video games on which the movie is based, Nathan Drake isn’t exactly a bodybuilder — but he’s definitely a chiseled leading man. And, as Holland recently confessed to The Hollywood Reporter, standing so close to Wahlberg provided a strong incentive for the typically lean Spider-Man star to pack on more than a little muscle.

“To be honest, mate, it was all that,” he joked. “We were about to start shooting the film [on March 16, 2020], and I realized that Mark was so much bigger than me. And then we shut down because of Covid; we had a five-month hiatus. And in that hiatus, I did nothing but train and train and train and train. So I’m glad I did because I think it would have looked slightly odd. I would have looked like one of his biceps.”

Holland said he showed up for his Spider-Man: No Way Home weigh-in at around 145 pounds, only weeks after topping out at about 163 pounds by packing on the protein for Uncharted. “I need to be so agile when playing that character [Spider-Man] and carrying that weight would’ve been really, really difficult,” he said. “So yeah, the cut was pretty severe.”

Getting ripped wasn’t the only skill Holland picked up during his time on the Uncharted set. Part of the prequel's origin story finds Nathan Drake slinging drinks as a bartender, and Holland trained behind the bar at London’s Chiltern Firehouse (a posh restaurant known for frequent celebrity sightings) to achieve the kind of bottle skills even Tom Cruise in Cocktail might be proud of. “I was mainly focused on just learning some really cool flair tricks,” he said. “I wanted the flair bartenders out there to really understand that I put in the work and learned these cool tricks. So for me, it was mainly just flipping bottles, catching them and all that sort of stuff.”

It all apparently transformed Holland’s swagger enough to surprise the Marvel team waiting for Holland’s pivot from Uncharted to Spider-Man: No Way Home, which Holland shot almost back-to-back.

“When we finished shooting Uncharted, I went straight from Barcelona to Atlanta to start shooting [No Way Home], and I do remember [producer] Amy Pascal asking me why I was walking like a man,” he said. “And I was sort of confused; I was like, ‘What are you talking about?’ And she was like, ‘You don’t look the same. You’re not walking the same. There’s just something different about you.’ So with Nathan Drake, his physicality is very, very different to that of Peter Parker, and it took me a while to shape that kind of side of him.”

We’re closing in fast on the date when Holland gets the chance to flex his bigger, badder body (and maybe mix a drink or two) on the big screen. Catch Holland and Wahlberg starting Feb. 18, when Sony’s Uncharted makes its long-awaited dive into theaters nationwide.