When it comes to animated movies, the word Pixar has basically become a synonym for ‘well that was spectacular’, so it should come as no surprise that its newest film Onward is, well, spectacular.
Of course, Onward owes at least some of its success (I’d estimate 34.7%) to its star Tom Holland – who you might remember from a little franchise called the Marvel Cinematic Universe where he plays some guy called Spider-Man – and we were lucky enough to speak to Tom when he popped over to London earlier this year.
We had six whole minutes with Holland and we could have asked him anything; what it’s like to be in a Pixar film, what the hell is going on with Chaos Walking, or what Robert Downey Jr. smells like (I’m thinking sandalwood). Instead of asking any of those questions, though, we wasted his time by subjecting him to some questions we literally had to convince Disney were appropriate to ask the star of a kid’s film (sorry Disney).
You know the drill: this is The Ten…
1) You’ve got a time machine, you can go anywhere in time and space, where’s the first place you’re going?
Tom Holland: Oh, anywhere in time and space? Well, I wouldn’t go anywhere in space because we don’t know what’s up there and I don’t want to waste the trip.
UNILAD: But you could find out what’s up there?
Tom Holland: Yeah but I don’t really want to know…
UNILAD: Oh okay?
Tom Holland: … because it’ll just be disappointing.
UNILAD: So I take it you don’t believe in aliens then or anything like that?
Tom Holland: No, I do believe but we don’t know where they are so I wouldn’t know where to find them.
UNILAD: That’s an excellent point.
Tom Holland: If I could visit anywhere in history though I would go back to the Roman period, so I could get a Roman, bring them back [to the present] and blow their mind. The first thing I’d show them? A car.
UNILAD: [laughing] Why?
Tom Holland: Well, everything with them is about travel, they were about building this globe-spanning empire and circumnavigating the globe, but they only had horses, and they’d go crazy if they saw a car.
UNILAD: I think I’d watch this movie.
Tom Holland: [laughs] Let’s make it happen. Downey Jr. could play the Roman!
UNILAD: Disney, you’re sat in the room with us, this is a solid pitch.
2) What’s the most famous-person thing you’ve ever done?
Tom Holland: Ooh! I sometimes ring restaurants and pretend to be my own assistant to get a table. So I ring like [switches to an American accent] ‘Hey, this is Tom Holland’s assistant and we’d love to come in to dinner for 12 people tonight’, and they go, ‘Oh yeah sure, of course, we’ll get that sorted right away!’
Tom Holland: I actually did it today for my family. We’re going to a nice restaurant and I know we wouldn’t have got a table if I didn’t drop my own name.
UNILAD: You’re super famous though, why not just call and be you?
Tom Holland: No, because you never want to start with that, because if you get to the point where they’re like, ‘No you can’t have a table we’re fully booked’, you then don’t want to be in the situation when you’re like, ‘Yeah but I’m Tom Holland’ because then they’re thinking, ‘Yeah, and you’re also a prick’.
3) If you weren’t an actor, what do you think you’d be doing with your life?
Tom Holland: If I wasn’t an actor? Well, I would never have known that I wanted to do this if I hadn’t got into acting, but a stuntman. If I’d never gone into acting or entertainment though I’d liked to have been a school teacher.
UNILAD: That seems to be quite a common answer we get.
Tom Holland: Really? Interesting, I wonder if it’s because teachers come into contact with loads of different people and actors pretend to be lots of different people?
UNILAD: That’s a super well-thought-out answer.
Tom Holland: Thank you, and that’s coming from someone who didn’t go to university… UNI-lad.
UNILAD: You know it doesn’t stand for university?
Tom Holland: What does it stand for?
UNILAD: I don’t know anymore.
4) You have one wish and it has to be selfish, what do you wish for? No world peace.
Tom Holland: I would wish for a teleportation machine, because if I have to watch another in-flight safety video I’m going to do something really bad.
UNILAD: Going to do some damage to some planes?
Tom Holland: Yeah, I’m going to break that TV screen. I’m actually flying tomorrow morning and I’m going to put on a face mask and some headphones – I know where the exits are. If you can’t find the exits on a plane, then don’t fly on an aeroplane! They’re that way [points one way] or that way [points another way]!
5) Whose career do you most admire?
Tom Holland: At the moment? I really admire Tyson Fury, from where he’s come from with his mental health and his physical transformation. You know, there are some things in the past that I don’t agree with, but I think he’s grown as a person and realised that what he said was pretty foolish.
I think what Fury did this morning [beating Deontay Wilder by technical knockout in the 7th round] and when you look at where he’s come from, it’s a real lesson in never giving up. Also I think what he’s doing for mental health is really admirable and I also think he’s pretty funny.
Also he destroyed Wilder this morning! I’m so jet lagged, I didn’t get to bed until the early hours of the morning because I was busy reading scripts, but I still got up at 5am to watch the fight with all my buddies. So the fact I’m still here and awake is pretty impressive!
6) What is your strongest-held opinion?
Tom Holland: Oh god. That’s a big question: tea is better than coffee.
7) What’s something you’ve never admitted publicly but you’ll tell me now?
Tom Holland: [smirking] Clever question bro, you’ve got me. I don’t know?
UNILAD: Well Richard E. Grant once told us he’d commissioned a statue of Barbra Streisand’s face. I think that was my first-ever scoop.
Tom Holland: Sorry, I really don’t know.
UNILAD: Are you sure?
Tom Holland: Sorry, I unfortunately am. Sorry mate.
A Brief Aside:
At this point we’d normally have two more questions, but unfortunately, because I’m a bad negotiator, when I secured an interview with Tom I rather confidently believed I could get through all the questions in six minutes. This confidence turned out to be misplaced.
So while I’d love to get Tom to answer numbers eight (What day would you happily relive?) and nine (Have you ever believed a fake news story about yourself?) we didn’t have time to get through them.
I invite you now to close your eyes, imagine what Tom Holland might have said to these wonderfully-written questions and smirk as you think, ‘Christ, this journalist gets some incisive answers from Holland, he should get his own TV show’.
We now return to our regular questions…
10) If you had to remove one colour from the world forever, which would it be and why?
Tom Holland: Woah! I want to say turquoise, but you’re wearing a turquoise jumper.
UNILAD: Any reason why?
Tom Holland: Because I don’t trust people in turquoise.
Makes sense why he wouldn’t tell us a secret now, I suppose.
If you fancy going on an epic quest to see Onward, it’s in cinemas on March 6.
More of a concept than a journalist, Tom Percival was forged in the bowels of Salford University from which he emerged grasping a Masters in journalism.
Since then his rise has been described by himself as ‘meteoric’ rising to the esteemed rank of Social Editor at UNILAD as well as working at the BBC, Manchester Evening News, and ITV.
He credits his success to three core techniques, name repetition, personality mirroring, and never breaking off a handshake.