I have all the respect in the world for actors who put it all on the line time and time again to score a role. When you put yourself out there that frequently, you’re bound to run into some disappointment, especially when there are highly sought-after roles in the mix. That was the case for Asa Butterfield when it came to auditioning for the role of Peter Parker in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We’ve got an extended interview with Butterfield coming your way next week to celebrate his phenomenal Netflix series Sex Education, but as we do with all installments of Collider Connected, we reflect on the journey that brought that filmmaker to their latest achievement and in Butterfield’s case, that meant discussing the bump in the road with Spider-Man.
You might remember that back in 2015, we got a shortlist of the young actors in contention to play Spider-Man in the MCU. At the time, Butterfield was considered the frontrunner but clearly things didn’t wind up panning out and Tom Holland snagged the role instead. While it must have been a major bummer at the time, losing the role came with a pretty significant upside for Butterfield. Here’s what he said:
“Every so often there’s a part [that you really want] and it’s a script you love, and you kind of put your heart and soul into it, and you don’t get it. And it is tough and it is shit, but I often find that something even better comes out of it at the end. And so in the case of Spider-Man, I did Sex Ed, because I wouldn’t have been able to do both of those at the same time.”
From there Butterfield went into a little more detail about why things might not have worked in his favor with this particular iteration of Spider-Man:
“I think as an actor and going out for roles, there’s only so much you can do and everyone’s gonna have a different take on a part and look at a character in different ways, have a different sort of performance, and you kind of have to stick with what you think. And if that isn’t necessary in line with what the director and the producers want, then it’s like, there’s nothing you can do about that. You might just not be the right person, and that’s out of your hands. And that’s something I’ve learned, something that I think is great to help me kind of get over it. Because Tom did amazing things with Peter and he had an entirely different portrayal of him and I think it’s worked so well in the universe and in that part, and I don’t think I could do it. So I think all things work out in the end.”
Let me further emphasize Butterfield’s last statement; all things truly did work out in the end. Yes, Holland is a fantastic Spider-Man, but have you seen Sex Education? I already wrote a lengthy piece about why I love that series so much, but it’s well worth repeating that, yeah, Butterfield lost a role in a mega-franchise, but now he’s the lead in a series that’s bursting with heart, wildly compelling and also puts a heavy emphasis on inclusivity. I’m a firm believer that even though Sex Education isn’t a $22.5 billion film franchise, it is a high quality show with an exceptional ensemble of characters that can make an especially wide audience feel seen and understood. Making an indelible impression like that goes a long way in my book.