Why Spider-Man Star Marisa Tomei Regrets Playing Mom Roles Like Aunt May

Marisa Tomei as Aunt May in Spider-Man: Far From Home
(Image credit: (Marvel))

Remember when Marisa Tomei was cast as Aunt May for Spider-Man: Homecoming? It was a choice that caught fans off guard because Marisa Tomei had the opportunity to completely turn the archetype of the character on its head – and she did. Tomei had us completely shifting our perspective on the matriarch in Peter Parker’s life. But Tomei doesn’t like the idea of being known for her “mom roles.”

While talking about her latest role in the new Judd Apatow film The King of Staten Island (in which she also plays a mom), the actress got candid about her recent work. Tomei told Collider:

I really regret starting down this road and I really regret starting to do that. I was, you know, talked into it – not this, but I mean just that change – and I really always felt like, ‘Oh, I could play a lot of things.’ Honestly, it’s probably more of a stretch than other things. [Laughs] But, it’s – yeah, I guess I said it all.

The 55-year-old My Cousin Vinny actress is incredibly memorable as the "mom" in Spider-Man: Homecoming and The King of Staten Island. Marisa Tomei brings a unique quality to the “mom role” that is refreshing to see play out. But that must be a double-edged sword. Now that Tomei is famous for her Aunt May character, she’s getting offered more types of parts like it, and she doesn’t want to be boxed in.

Marisa Tomei showed interest in tackling the femme fatale in a noir or starring in a screwball rom-com. The point is she’s not content with being known as just the “mom type” on film. She continued with:

I think every actor and actress has a lot of dimensions to them and if the scope of what is being written and being made is narrow, and you want to keep working, you do what you can. I mean, I do. I tried it. It was maybe not the right road, but you know, I do try to make the most of it.

Tomei’s role in The King of Staten Island is a weighty one as she plays the widowed mother in Pete Davidson’s semi-biographical dramedy. Like his own dad, Davidson's character's father was killed in 9/11 while working as a firefighter when he was a young kid. In the movie, Scott is a 24-year-old stay-at-home burnout who aspires to become a tattoo artist. Check out the trailer below:

There is stil this looming expectation that female actresses often catch wind of when they pass their 30s that talents like Marisa Tomei find themselves fighting against. Reese Witherspoon recently recalled a time when her financial advisor told her to “start saving” when she hit 37 because she wasn’t “going to have much of a career” in her 40s.

That’s clearly not the case for the Big Little Lies, The Morning Show and Little Fires Everywhere actress/producer, and she ended up firing her team member for his comment. Marisa Tomei similarly pushes back against the idea that the possibilities for her career need to shift just because of her age. Just because many women her age are mothers, there should not be a ceiling for the Oscar winner.

The King of Staten Island has been welcomed with positive reception, with a 70% Rotten Tomatoes score and favorable review from CinemaBlend’s own Sean O’Connell. Judd Apatow’s latest film is available to rent on VOD now.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.