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Tom Holland may only be 16 years old, but he's already friends with Angelina Jolie.
OK, they're not like besties, but the two met and chatted for a couple of hours when Jolie recently hosted a London screening of Holland's riveting new Oscar-buzzy drama, The Impossible.
"I was sort of nervous meeting her because obviously she's Angelina Jolie, but she's really really lovely," Holland tells me. "It was a privilege to see how normal she is. She's stunning, but also just a normal person."
Jolie offered him some advice. "She said things about keeping a level head and making sure everything doesn't get to you," Holland said. "She said, 'Remain the same person.'"
The Impossible (in theaters Dec. 21) is based on the harrowing real-life survival story of a married couple (Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts) who were on Christmas vacation in Thailand with their young sons (Holland, Samuel Joslin and Oaklee Pendergrast) when the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami struck and killed about 300,000 people.
Director Juan Antonio Bayona made sure Watts and Holland developed the strong mother-son relationship they needed to portray in the film.
"Me and Naomi basically had like four weeks of bonding sessions," Holland remembered. "He made us do some crazy exercises, like making us sit in front of each other and stare at each other for a good five or 10 minutes. Then he made us start drawing each other and I can't draw. I was really nervous, and then suddenly he spun us around and we had to continue drawing."
Holland is also still pinching himself over working with McGregor.
"Ewan McGregor was Obi-Wan Kenobi and he was my hero growing up," Holland said. "I had the outfit. I had the lightsaber. I was properly obsessed…It did hit me in the face when he walked in, like I immediately did see Obi-Wan Kenobi."