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Tom Holland relives the worst day shooting 'In the Heart of the Sea'

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David M. Benett/Getty Images

Given his recent casting as Spider-Man, there are likely to be some tough physical days in the future of British actor Tom Holland. But maybe none will be quite as demanding as the time he spent shooting one particular sequence for Ron Howard‘s new historical seafaring epic, In the Heart of the Sea (out Dec. 11).

In the Chris Hemsworth-starring film, Holland plays Thomas Nickerson, the youngest crew member of whaling ship the Essex. At one point in the movie, Nickerson is sent inside the corpse of a dead whale to retrieve oil from the creature’s head. Holland says shooting the scene was a deeply unpleasant experience. “It’s not a real whale but, you know how movies are these days, everything’s so realistic,” he explains. “It definitely felt like a real whale. The trouble was that, obviously whale oil is a lubricant, so they had to pour this lube down the top of this whale. The first time I went in, it took them about 15 minutes to try and get me out again, because it was just so slippery. They’d pull me up halfway — and then I’d just slip and fall right back in again. It was probably November, it was one in the morning, we were outside, I was covered in this jelly stuff, I was freezing, it was awful. It was probably one of the hardest days of work I’ve ever had in my life.”

Then, two weeks later, Holland found out he had to do it all over again. “Ron comes up to me: ‘So, we’re going to have to reshoot that whale scene,'” says the actor. “And I did it a second time. My brother Sam came to watch me that day. All the time we’ve been fighting, he finally got back at me, just watching me throw up in this gross whale head.”

 

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