“Homecoming’s producers were unaware of Zendaya’s fame when she attended the audition for the role of MJ!”:Kevin Feige and Amy Pascal Felt Stupid After Auditioning Zendaya For Spider-Man-HO



Zendaya has dominated both the small and big screens in recent years. Her portrayal of Rue in HBO Max’s “Euphoria” not only elevated the show to fan-favorite status but also earned her the distinction of being the youngest woman to win an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress.

The 27-year-old actress has landed several significant roles in films, including Chani in “Dune” and Anne Wheeler in “The Greatest Showman.” However, even before tackling those roles, she made her mark in the superhero genre by portraying Michelle Jones, also known as ‘MJ’, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s “Spider-Man” films. In fact, her debut in a major motion picture came in 2017 with “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” and she continued to star in its subsequent installments.

Zendaya and Tom Holland in Spider-Man: No Way HomeZendaya and Tom Holland in Spider-Man: No Way Home

However, when the actress showed up for her audition, producer Amy Pascal claimed that neither she nor Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige had any idea who Zendaya was. Did we mention that the actress walked into the audition room looking fresh-faced and confident, with no mascara or lipstick—in fact, no makeup at all?

Zendaya’s Makeup-Free Audition For Spider-Man: Homecoming

When Zendaya was cast as MJ in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming” (2017), she was already a well-known figure. By that time, she had amassed a considerable fan base through her roles in the Disney Channel hits “Shake It Up” and “K.C. Undercover.” However, this pre-existing popularity seemed to have gone unnoticed by “Spider-Man: Homecoming” producer Amy Pascal.

Pascal, 66, recently admitted to Vogue:

“To be honest with you, neither [Marvel Studios president] Kevin Feige nor I knew who she was. She was wearing no makeup and she was just dressed like a regular girl, and we were like, ‘Oh my God, she’s amazing. She has to be in the movie.’ And then we found out she was a totally famous person, and felt really stupid.”

Zendaya in Spider-Man: Homecoming

Zendaya in Spider-Man: Homecoming
In the 2017 film directed by Jon Watts, Tom Holland stars alongside Zendaya as the film’s protagonist. In the Vogue interview, the Dune actress discussed the influence Spider-Man: Homecoming had on her and Holland’s careers.
“We were both very, very young, but my career was already kind of going, and his changed overnight. One day you’re a kid and you’re at the pub with your friends, and then the next day you’re Spider-Man. I definitely watched his life kind of change in front of him. But he handled it really beautifully.”

Zendaya Didn’t Know of Her Role in Jon Watts’ 2017 Flick?

Zendaya and Tom Holland in Spider-Man: No Way HomeZendaya and Tom Holland in Spider-Man: No Way Home
In an interview with GQ, Zendaya disclosed that during her Spider-Man: Homecoming audition, she was not aware that she was vying for a significant role. The California-born actress was not even informed that the script she was given was for Spider-Man; fortunately, her representatives were able to ascertain this for her. In her words:

“We weren’t supposed to know that the script pages that we were reading were for Spider-man, but I did find out that it was for Spider-man cause I have good agents. But I didn’t know what role I was auditioning for. I just thought it was ‘girl in Spider-man movie.’ I didn’t really know what character, or what kind of character, they would be. Right before the screen test, they were kind of saying okay these are the characters that we’re reading for, MJ being one of them and I was like “oh that would be so cool!”

So, what about the next Spider-Man endeavor? In February 2023, Kevin Feige gave Entertainment Weekly confirmation that the script for Tom Holland’s fourth Spider-Man film was being written:

“All I will say is that we have the story. We have big ideas for that, and our writers are just putting pen to paper now.”

Holland told Variety in June of last year that the WGA strike had put a halt to writing on the script:

“We’ve put the meetings on pause in solidarity with the writers. There’s been multiple conversations had, but at this point it’s very, very early stages.”

Zendaya’s next project is a romantic sports comedy-drama titled “Challengers,” directed by Luca Guadagnino. In the film, Zendaya portrays the character Tashi Duncan. Co-starring alongside her are Josh O’Connor and Mike Faist. “Challengers” is set to be released on April 26, 2024.

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