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Zendaya Recalls Her Concerns About Her And Tom Holland’s Height Difference During Spider-Man: Homecoming Auditions

Zendaya and Tom Holland as MJ and Spider-Man
(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Among the many odd societal norms that have existed for as long as we can remember is the idea of height difference between a couple. There’s a belief often perpetuated that the guy in the relationship needs to be taller than the girl. This becomes unfair for taller than average women or shorter than average men, which applies to the stars of Spider-Man: No Way Home, Tom Holland and Zendaya. And the latter has now revealed the initial height-related concerns she had while auditioning for 2017's Homecoming.

When it comes to the odd norm, movies play a part, too. How often do you see a romantic comedy where the woman in the relationship is looking down at the leading man? Never. So it would make sense that Zendaya was concerned about getting the role of MJ alongside Tom Holland (who is 5’8"). As the actress shared to Entertainment Weekly

I guess when I first met [Tom Holland], like I said, I was worried I was going to be too tall for the role. I thought that I was just going to look ridiculous. But then, there were chairs. … I didn’t tell them my height, you know. So it’s not like I was like, ‘Hey, I’m Zendaya, I’m 5’10”.’ I just came in, and I was like, ‘Oh, shit.’ But, it ended up working out and I think our height difference is one of the cool things about Peter and MJ.

While talking about her first meeting with her co-star, she admits to being “worried” that she would lose the role due to her height. But thankfully, the Marvel casting directors saw through it. The decision has allowed for the actors to explore a height dynamic we don’t typically see on the big screen, and it’s super refreshing. 

After Zendaya shared that she thinks their height difference is one of the best things about the on-screen couple, Tom Holland added, “I absolutely love it.” This isn’t the first time the actors have spoken to this and throughout their press tour for No Way Home. The topic has come up multiple times, especially now that they're dating in real life

During an interview with Sirius XM, the conversation came up, leading Tom Holland to share that it may have been an intentional decision by director Jon Watts to begin with. In his words: 

It's a stupid assumption. It's ridiculous. I remember when we were doing the Spider-Man screen tests, I mean, you'd have to ask [director] Jon Watts this question, but every girl we tested for both roles was taller than me. And I wonder whether that was a decision Jon had made, there was no-one who tested that was shorter than I was. To be fair, I am quite short. So maybe that's a decision Jon Watts made, and something he was aware of, and he wanted to break the stereotype.

Their co-star, Jacob Batalon, also chimed in the discussion, sharing that it’s “not weird for women to be tall.” This brings up a great discussion about how this norm sees taller than average women. It perpetuates that a tall man is more valuable than a short man because height makes someone more of a man, whereas women are devalued for being tall because women are inherently supposed to be shorter than men? This is a great time for us to reevaluate this! And at the end of the day, Tom Holland and Zendaya’s Peter and MJ are super cute, and many fans wouldn’t want it any other way. 

Sarah El-Mahmoud

YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.