Spider-Man: No Way Home did an admirable job juggling its huge cast of characters. Despite featuring three Spider-Men, five supervillains, the Spidey supporting cast, and Doctor Strange, the film never felt crowded. But with that many pieces in play, some of the visiting characters had more minimal roles, like The Amazing Spider-Man‘s Lizard and Spider-Man 3‘s Sandman.
Sandman staying in his transformed state meant that Thomas Haden Church actually never set foot on set. The brief glimpse of Sandman after he was cured was realized through old footage from Spider-Man 3, with him providing voice work only.
This meant the person actually ‘playing’ Sandman while shooting wasn’t who you’d expect. Digital Domain’s Scott Edelstein spilled the beans in an interview with Comicbook.com:
“Starting from set, when they’re shooting, they have a stand-in that is there for eyelines, for the camera blocking, all that kind of stuff. But his actual facial performance, his body performance isn’t necessarily what they’re going to keep. So most of the time what we’re going to do is paint him out of the plate, if he’s there at all. And then we have multiple different things after that show us what Sandman could potentially be. Sometimes it’s the director himself. Jon Watts actually shot reference of himself doing the body performances, and the kind of facial like performance that he wanted the character to have. And so we would have that reference.”
I very much hope footage of Watts on set as Sandman makes it into the special features on the home release. Despite being seriously hard work, stuff like this also indicates that making these movies can also be a bunch of fun. I mean, who wouldn’t want to stomp around pretending to be a grumpy sand dude?
Edelstein went on to say a lot of the time Watts’ performance was simply a reference, as mo-cap wasn’t used that much. He goes on to confirm that much of the character was realized through good old-fashioned keyframe animation, though with some nifty sand particle effects layered on top.
We may get some more insights when the home release lands in late March. This will include a featurette titled ‘Multiverse of Miscreants’, which sounds as if it’ll take us through the design and VFX processes needed to bring No Way Home‘s villains to life.
Spider-Man: No Way Home will land digitally on March 22 and 4K UHD Blu-ray on April 4.