Netflix’s The Devil All the Time is a dark, gothic tale set in the South that tells the story of a group of broken individuals, none more so than the character of Arvin Russell, played by Spider-Man star Tom Holland. It is a difficult, morally-compromised role for any actor to take on, and becomes doubly surprising taking Holland’s clean-cut public image into consideration. In an interview, the director of the movie, Antonio Campos, explained why Holland was the perfect actor to entrust with the role of Arvin.
“In the hands of a lesser actor, Arvin would have just been an impenetrable, potentially alienating character who did a lot of awful things. The key to him was understanding his trauma and communicating the humanity in him. Beyond adapting his voice and his physicality, Tom was able to take on and carry the trauma Arvin had lived but was still able to communicate the warmth and humanity that made Arvin an accessible character we could actually connect with and root for.”
Holland’s performance in the film has come in for a lot of praise by critics, who have cited Arvin as the emotional backbone of the entire feature. The character of Arvin does not speak a lot, and carries out acts of violence just as often as other characters in the movie. But unlike those characters, Arvin has a strong moral compass. Holland had previously spoken to Variety about the difficulty in portraying such a complex character.
“I’ve got to say I was really nervous and scared coming on set for the first time because I didn’t know if I had it in me to play this type of character. He is a really complicated character and it is very dark, and I had to go to places mentally that I didn’t know I could go to or don’t think I ever want to go to again.”
For his part, Campos is more than satisfied with the work Holland did on his film, going so far as to declare the rising star one of the greatest actors of his generation.
“For an actor of his age to be able to capture this kind of complexity effortlessly is rare. He is one of the best I’ve worked with and truly one of the greats of his generation.”
Tom Holland will continue to tackle difficult roles with the Russo Brother’s upcoming thriller Cherry, where the actor plays the role of an army medic with PTSD, who takes to a life of crime to sustain his drug habit. After that Holland will head up his own Spider-Man cinematic universe under Sony which will see the webbed wall-crawler unite with many of his supporting cast from the comics on the big screen.
Featuring a lead cast of Tom Holland, Bill Skarsgård, Jason Clarke, Riley Keough, Robert Pattinson, Eliza Scanlen, Sebastian Stan, Harry Melling, Haley Bennett, and Mia Wasikowska, The Devil All the Time premieres Wednesday, September 16 on Netflix. This news originated at IndieWire.