That was exactly what happened both on and off-screen for Tom Holland and Spider-Man alums Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire in the making of the latest installment of the superhero franchise, Spider-Man: No Way Home. In a new interview with Variety, published on Jan. 26, director Jon Watts revealed that the three actors prepared for the epic crossover by having a heart-to-heart conversation about their respective approaches to playing Peter Parker.
"We sat on folding chairs in a circle and went through the script together," Watts recalled. "I had talked to everyone separately, but to have everyone together to talk about the story, how the pieces fit together and what Spider-Man meant to them—that was exciting for me. We had the only three actors to ever play Spider-Man in a film, and each had been through so much, on and off screen."
He added, "It was like a Spider-Man therapy session."
And because "we had done that work ahead of time," Watts said, seeing Holland, Garfield and Maguire share the screen as Spider-Man made it that much more special.
He explained, "You're capturing something more than a scene from a movie; you're watching a once-in-a-lifetime event."
Not only did No Way Home see past iterations of the beloved friendly neighborhood vigilante, but it also featured the return of villains Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina), Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe) and Electro (Jamie Foxx). For Watts, it was crucial to let the star-studded cast shine on its own.
"The only thing I was nervous about is that I'd miss something great," he said. "As a director, you always keep your eyes and ears open."
Garfield starred in the Amazing Spider-Man series from 2012 to 2014, while Maguire played the masked hero in movies from 2002 to 2007. Leading up to the release of No Way Home, the two stars kept very tight-lipped about their surprise cameos—with Garfield even lying to his former co-star Emma Stone about his involvement in the film.
"Emma kept on texting me," Garfield, who dated Stone for four years, recalled on a recent episode of Josh Horowitz's Happy Sad Confused podcast. "She was like, 'Are you in this new Spider-Man film?' And I was like, 'I don't know what you're talking about.'"