Film: Spider-Man's Tom Holland explains why Mark Wahlberg is the ‘OG'
Based on the best-selling video game series, Uncharted is a voyage of discovery, as Danielle de Wolfe learns from stars Mark Wahlberg and Tom Holland...
TOM HOLLAND is a gamer.
Tapping the X button furiously between takes on the set of Spider-Man: Homecoming, the actor could often be found in his trailer, surrounded by a state-of-the-art gaming set-up – “one of the benefits of working with Sony,” he says.
Fully immersed in the multi-million selling game Uncharted 4, little did Holland know that a handful of years later, he'd find himself portraying the very character he was controlling – albeit on a much larger screen.
A tale of trust, truth and treasure, forthcoming feature-length film Uncharted sees Holland ditch the lycra in favour of street-smart charmer Nathan Drake.
Recruited by veteran treasure hunter Victor “Sully” Sullivan, played by The Fighter and Ted star Mark Wahlberg, it's an action-packed adventure that's every inch the prequel to the best-selling video game series.
Walking straight off Spider-Man: No Way Home and onto the set of Uncharted, Holland (25), describes the need to switch-up his mindset, approaching stunt sequences in an entirely “different way”. With two stunt doubles on hand – a pair Holland describes as “the best in the business” – the film's fights, falls and fatal action sequences are meticulously tailored to suit Holland's physical abilities.
“When you're playing Spider-Man, there are two parts to every stunt; you do the practical part, and then there would more than likely be a digital takeover,” says Holland, describing how CGI artists go on to create elaborate stunts digitally.
“With Nathan Drake, you need to think about the first part of the stunt and the second part of the stunt [as] one continuous motion – which is tricky.”
In basic terms, it's a story about “finding the puzzle pieces and completing the journey” according to Holland, with Uncharted laying the groundwork for future gaming events. Packed to the rafters with villains, hair-raising stunts and a flying galleon or two for good measure, it's a film that sees Zombieland and Venom director Ruben Fleischer take the helm.
“I've dreamed of making a treasure-hunting, globe-trotting adventure since I was a kid,” says Fleischer (47). “That kind of movie gave me a passion for history and antiquity – I even went to college thinking I was going to be an archaeologist. As soon as I read this script, it captured that magical quality of escapist adventure.”
As Nathan joins forces with Sully, the pair follow a treasure map as they travel from Barcelona to the Philippines in search of the fortune lost at sea by the House of Moncada. They're not alone, however, as treasure hunter Chloe Frazer (Sophia Ali) and Santiago Moncada (Antonio Banderas) are both out for gold, with the latter on a mission to reclaim the treasure his family once lost.
“The way Antonio plays him, he has a chip on his shoulder and a lot of daddy issues. He wants to prove that he's not just a spoiled kid – that he can contribute to his family's history,” adds Fleischer.
But with Nathan and Sully harbouring very different motivations – Sully's selfish attitude and fixation on gold stands in contrast to Nathan's yearning for a reunion with his missing brother, a fellow treasure hunter – it's a journey that tests the pair's bond.
“The thing that elevates the material and really separates it and differentiates it from everything else, is the chemistry between the two guys,” says Wahlberg (50). Describing how the film “really lives and dies” by the pair's interactions, Uncharted depicts Nathan and Sully's journey as they “earn each other's respect”.
“You kind of have this older mentor – everything is about his own self-serving interest. But you know, he really falls in love with Tom as a father figure or a big brother,” says Wahlberg.
It's a guiding relationship that extends off screen. With Holland describing himself as “a big fan” who found himself “star struck” upon meeting Wahlberg for the first time, the actor labels his co-star “the OG” and someone who has “been doing this longer than I've been alive”.
Having made his television acting debut at the age of 22 in the television movie The Substitute, two-time Academy Award nominee Wahlberg is keen to press the importance of mentorship among actors in today's film industry.
“I always look to people that I admired and wanted to work with and was fortunate enough to work with – the Denzel Washingtons of the world, the Robert Duvalls, James Caan, Jack Nicholson and Dustin Hoffman,” says Wahlberg. “I've worked with some of the greats and I've always wanted to just be a student, watching them and picking their brains. And they've always been very kind and appreciative of my interest in looking up to them, so I want to always do the same.”
Attempting to outmanoeuvre Banderas' character Santiago – and with Ali's character Chloe switching allegiances at a rate of knots, Uncharted changes course at a rapid pace. There was, however, one key element missing for Holland upon reading through the script for the first time.
“I remember reading the script and realising that I didn't have any scenes with Antonio,” says the Spider-Man actor.
“I said to Ruben, ‘You can't bring this guy in and not have me work with him.' I've been a huge fan of his and I thought it was very important that the quote-unquote ‘hero' of the story should meet with the villain of the story.”
Putting in a special request to Fleischer, the actor noted the necessity for Bandera and Holland's characters to unite early on. It's an amendment which gave birth to a tense, action-packed sequence set in an auction house – one that seamlessly paves the way for future events, with Holland's character realising “he's not in the kiddie park anymore”.
“For Mark and I, it was a real privilege and a pleasure to get to tell this part of the story because I think the fans are very excited to see how it started,” notes Holland of the project.
“We're excited to try and catch up – and hopefully, one day, end up in a position where it finishes.”
Uncharted arrives in cinemas on Friday February 11.