Much like Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider, you were likely bitten by the acting bug at one point, sealing your fate with a future in the arts. But what if those two paths were destined to cross in the form of a role in an upcoming “Spider-Man” flick?
If your spidey senses are tingling with anticipation over how to get caught up in this coveted casting web, you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about auditioning for a “Spider-Man” movie, including how the web-slinging leads landed their heroic roles.
- What is “Spider-Man” about?
- What are the most popular “Spider-Man” films?
- How does the casting process work for a “Spider-Man” movie?
- Which “Spider-Man” movies are currently casting or filming?
- Where can you find “Spider-Man” casting calls and auditions?
- Who are the top “Spider-Man” casting directors?
- What are the best audition tips for landing a role in a “Spider-Man” movie?
Spider-Man is a Marvel superhero created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. Though each Spider-Man project has its own storyline, the usual premise is that Peter Parker, a shy teen, is bitten by a radioactive spider, which gives him superpowers to help others and fight enemies.
Since 2002, the story of Spider-Man has come to life onscreen in three separate live-action film series. First was Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” trilogy starring Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, and James Franco.
Andrew Garfield then played the teen web-slinger in Mark Webb’s two-part “Amazing Spider-Man” films, alongside Emma Stone and Sally Field. It was recently announced that Tom Holland will reprise his role in the untitled Jon Watts–directed Marvel Cinematic Universe film after starring in “Homecoming,” “Far From Home,” and “No Way Home” with Zendaya.
As for non-live-action features, 2018’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” and its 2023 sequel, “Spider-Man Across the Spider-Verse,” starring Shameik Moore and Hailee Steinfeld, follow the superhero in animated form.
For Holland, auditioning for the lead was a long and arduous process. As he told Variety, the “horrible” process consisted of six auditions over seven months, “and they don’t tell you anything,” he said.
Holland eventually got to screen test with the Tony Stark, “Iron Man” star Robert Downey Jr. “It was me and six other kids, and [Robert] Downey [Jr.] was there, so we all tested with Downey, which was crazy,” he shared. “It’s the best audition I’ve ever done. He and I were riffing off each other. My agents told me that Marvel likes you to learn the words exactly—you can’t improvise. And then, on the first take, Downey just completely changed the scene. We started riffing with each other and, to sound like a bit of a dick, I rang my mum afterward and was like, ‘I think I’ve got it.’”
Holland was then invited back to screen-test with “Captain America” actor Chris Evans six weeks later, and the two completed a fight scene. “They flew us back to Atlanta, me and one other guy, and we did this scene, which was so surreal. By that point, it had been an amazing enough of an experience that if I hadn’t got the part, I would’ve felt like I’d at least achieved something to get to that point,” he added. “I went out to play golf with my dad. I lost and I was upset, and I remember going on my phone and checking Instagram, and Marvel had posted a picture of Spider-Man, of the cartoon. And by this point, I kind of had assumed I hadn’t got it, because no one had called me.” But as we all know, Holland did land the coveted role and currently stands as the face of the franchise.
As for Garfield, acing his audition meant alleviating the pressure to be perfect. Instead of fixating on the high-profile nature of the task, Garfield pretended he was simply auditioning for a short film made with friends. “Because I was so nervous and wanted it so much, I figured out a way of doing the screen test. I gave myself an acting adjustment, I suppose, which was: You’re a 15-year-old and you’re making a Spider-Man short film with mates,” Garfield explained.
“All the crew are friends. There’s no pressure. You get to make it up as you go along, and it’s about the joy of being this character. I was able to trick my ego to be occupied in a corner,” he continued. “I convinced the part of me that puts pressure on myself that it wasn’t needed and that we were just gonna go and have a laugh.”
Zendaya, who plays the MJ to Holland’s Peter Parker, decided to audition for the part even though casting directors have repeatedly cast white women in the role. “I definitely went into it like, ‘Hopefully they’ll’—as they call it in the industry—‘go ethnic,’ Zendaya told Marie Claire. “I remember making the decision to straighten my hair. I didn’t know that they were going to be more diverse in their casting. I didn’t know that I was walking into a situation where they were already breaking the rules. You get so used to having to break the rules for people,” she said.
“We’ve all experienced getting the noes, and that’s OK. I always say, ‘If you don’t get cast, it wasn’t yours to begin with.’ But there’s been a few things,” she said. “I always tell my theatrical manager, ‘Anytime it says they’re looking for white girls, send me out. Let me get in the room. Maybe they’ll change their minds.’”
Rumor has it that the next installment in the Holland-starring series of “Spider-Man” films will start production in late 2024, with an expected release date of summer 2025. We’ll continue to update this article as more details become available.
While we wait for production to begin on the next “Spider-Man” film, you can check out these Marvel-inspired superhero gigs casting now. We also recommend keeping your eye on our main casting page for the latest “Spider-Man” opportunities, along with this go-to guide for auditioning for a Marvel project.
If you haven’t done so already, finding an agent can also help you land the audition of your dreams. Here’s how you can find an agent.
Francine Maisler led the casting teams on both the Raimi “Spider-Man” trilogy and Webb’s double feature. However, when Sony struck its licensing deal with Disney in 2016, “Spider-Man” officially joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Sarah Finn, who casts many other MCU films, took the helm for the installments starring Holland.
If you do find yourself in Finn’s audition room, expect to have a good experience. “A question we ask a lot is, ‘Did you accomplish what you came in here wanting to do today? Do you feel like you did the work that you prepared?’ Hopefully we can honor that,” Finn said. “I understand and have an amazing amount of compassion for what actors go through and how hard they work—what it means to them every time they come in for an audition. We want to honor that and let people know that when you’re doing your best work, you never know where that’s going to land you. In the Marvel world, there were many actors who auditioned for one part in a Marvel film or another project and got cast years later in something else. When you do good work and show up every day, we take note. We remember that, and hopefully it turns into something down the line.”
Make strong choices: Maisler has cast an impressive array of films beyond the “Spider-Man” series, so she knows that bold moves—especially when self-taping—are what will get you noticed.
“When you get an audition, look at who’s directing it, who has written it, [and] look at their work,” Maisler told us. “There’s a tone that every director has. There’s so much information to be gotten from doing that research. Then try to make some strong choices. I feel bad for actors if they’re self-taping and not getting any direction, because they don’t know what to do. But sometimes people go just in the middle, and the middle never works. Just try to, with what you know, make a choice.”
Find comfort in your fear: With decades of experience under his belt, Willem Dafoe—who played the villain Green Goblin opposite Maguire—has also been known to teach acting classes. Dafoe focuses on experimentation and trying “to get [students] off their game and then have them find what it feels like to be off their game, to throw them off balance a little bit,” he explained, noting that many actors come to the industry with preconceived notions and hesitate to think outside the box they’ve constructed.
But embracing fear often produces some of the most beautiful performances. “It’s all kind of tied to fear and to ego and all this stuff, and you want to try to clean them out, let them be free, and if they can get free of that, then they get excited, and they have these kind of revelations, and then stuff happens,” he said. “We’re so conditioned not to play, and we’re so conditioned not to be loose. … We’re not comfortable with things that we can’t quite explain, but those are usually the most beautiful things in a performance and the most beautiful things in any art, so we’re traumatized because somewhere, intuitively, we know that’s where we want to go.”
Never stop learning: Holland might be young, but he’s wise enough to realize that learning never ends. “I’d be so naive to say that my training is finished,” he explained. “Acting is a muscle, and it’s something that can always get stronger. Whenever you work with new people, regardless of whether you think they’re good or not, you will always learn something from them. I’m continuing to learn every day. I’m learning about directing, learning about producing, learning about writing. All of those things are helping me become a better actor.”
He added: “Lots of it kind of boils down to: How would I react in this scene? Figure that out, and then put the character on top. The easiest way for me to find a character is to find the similarities between myself and the character and then build on that.”
Get out of your own way: J.K. Simmons, who plays J. Jonah Jameson in several “Spider-Man” films, is one of Hollywood’s greatest character actors, but it took hard work and dedication to achieve success.
“When I got to New York, I would go to these big auditions and see—if I was auditioning to be a leading man—everybody there was Robert Redford. And I wasn’t,” he told Variety. “And the character [roles], they were all Marty Feldman. And I wasn’t that either. I didn’t know where I fit, and I found myself always going into the room trying to be something that I thought they wanted me to be. And I think it was a big, helpful moment for me when I said, ‘What if I just walk in the room and just be this schmuck?’ And see if that’s what they’re looking for. Obviously [I would] play the character and do the scene, but that was the first time that I was able to get out of my own way and come in and just relax. Which is the magic word.”