OUR REIGNING friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man, Tom Holland, is no stranger to the physical toll of acting roles. The 27-year-old, who famously performs many of his own stunts, has spoken of being left quite literally black-and-blue after working on the Spider-Man franchise, and his 2022 film Uncharted.

But according to the star, his latest role in Apple TV’s thriller miniseries The Crowded Room left him more mentally than physically spent. So much so, he’s made the decision to step back from acting as a result.

The Crowded Room is inspired by a true story, and based on the 1971 novel The Minds of Billy Milligan. It follows antisocial teen Danny Sullivan (Holland), who is arrested after a shooting at the Rockefeller Center in 1979, and subsequently investigated by Rya Goodwin (Amanda Seyfried) — which forces him to reckon with his mental health and the circumstances that led to the incident.

Holland previously told Entertainment Weekly that he had been “on the prowl” for such a role for years, so when the offer came up, he jumped at the chance to sign on before seeing the script — not just as the leading role, but also as a producer for the first time.

Holland told Extra he felt that “it was time to tell the story about mental health that is brought on by trauma, try and educate some people into how crazy it can be and how your mind is so powerful and it can work for good and it can work for bad”.

“It just really resonated with me,” he continued. “I just really was terrified by the idea of playing this character and for me, that’s a good thing, so I said yes.”

But the tolls the role would take on him proved greater than he had expected. “I’m no stranger to the physical aspects of the job doing the whole action-movie thing,” he told EW. “But the mental aspect, it really beat me up and it took a long time for me to recover afterwards, to sort of get back to reality.”

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At one point he admitted that after inhabiting the character of Danny for nine months, he began to struggle to detach his own personality from the role, which led to something of a breakdown. “I was seeing myself in him, but in my personal life,” he says. “I remember having a bit of a meltdown at home and thinking, like, ‘I’m going to shave my head. I need to shave my head because I need to get rid of this character.’ And, obviously, we were mid-shooting, so I decided not to… It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before.”

Holland also explained that taking on the challenge of producing for the first time — all the while dealing with the mental strain of embodying his character — only added to the stress.

“It was a tough time for sure,” he said. “We were exploring certain emotions that I have definitely never experienced before. And on top of that being a producer, dealing with the day to day problems that come with any film set just added that extra level of pressure.”

He still managed to enjoy the work, but admits that it required more than a bit of rest and recuperation — to the point where he’s taking a step back from acting for a year in the aftermath of the show’s strain. “I’ve always sort of lived by this idea that hard work is good work, and I really enjoyed it. But then again, the show did break me,” he says.

“There did come a time where I was sort of like, I need to have a break. I disappeared, I went to Mexico for a week and had some time on a beach, and lay low, and I’m now taking a year off, and that is a result of how difficult this show was.”

That said, Holland fans need not worry — his acting break is only temporary, and he’s scheduled to return to set next year to film the currently untitled Fred Astaire biopic. And of course, he’s still set to return as everybody’s favourite web-slinging superhero in another Spider-Man sequel in coming years, after Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige confirmed in February that writing had begun for the fourth instalment in the series.

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