Tom Holland‘s Peter Parker was fifteen years old when he made his Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, even though the actor himself was less than a month shy of his 20th birthday when the movie hit theaters. While Hollywood has a long and often unconvincing history when it comes to casting people to play teenagers, if Holland had appeared as Spider-Man at the age of fifteen, then we would have been in for an entirely different experience.
In what was the first big screen role of his career, the fifteen year-old stage performer played a twelve year-old kid in true-life disaster drama The Impossible, which is headed to Hulu in just a few weeks. Director J.A. Bayona applied the skills he’d picked up in the horror genre to a real tale of terror in the loose adaptation of one family’s experience during the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that ultimately left over a quarter of a million dead.
Tackling that sort of harrowing material could have been viewed as a cynical and insensitive exploitation of a real tragedy, but Bayona handled the story fantastically and used his experience in other genres to present the tsunami as a monster in and of itself, backed by phenomenal performances from both the inexperienced and veteran members of the cast, with Naomi Watts picking up Best Actress nominations at the Academy Awards and Golden Globes
The Impossible is far from an easy watch, but it proved to be a decent-sized hit at the box office after bringing in almost $200 million globally on a $45 million budget while also winning widespread praise from audiences, critics and survivors of the tsunami. And if you can handle the nail-biting tension, then the movie is well worth checking out when it lands on Hulu next month, on September 1st.