TV & Movies

Spider-Man Producers “Didn't Know” Zendaya At Her First Audition

“We found out she was a totally famous person.”

Zendaya in Marvel's 'Spider-Man'
Courtesy of Sony Pictures / 'Spider-Man'

If you can believe it, Spider-Man producers didn’t recognize Zendaya during her first audition.

Speaking recently to Vogue, Amy Pascal — who was a producer in Tom Holland’s Spider-Man trilogy — revealed that she and the Marvel Studios president “didn’t know” who Zendaya was when she originally tried out for the role of Michelle “MJ” Jones-Watson.

“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,’” Pascal recalled. “And then we found out she was a totally famous person, and felt really stupid.”

Obviously, Zendaya landed the role of MJ and reprised the character in 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Home and 2021’s Spider-Man: No Way Home. But before starring in the Marvel franchise, she’d already fronted the Disney Channel series Shake It Up, among other TV roles, and competed in Dancing with the Stars Season 16.

Spider-Man became a career milestone for both Zendaya and her now-boyfriend, Tom Holland. Speaking to Vogue, she said she admired how Holland dealt with overnight fame after first portraying the superhero in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War.

Spider-Man stars Tom Holland and Zendaya. Emma McIntyre/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

“We were both very, very young, but my career was already kind of going, and his changed overnight,” she said. “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.”

Since then, Zendaya’s landed lead roles in HBO’s Euphoria and Dune, and next up, she’ll star in the tennis drama Challengers opposite Josh O’Connor and Mike Faist.

Currently, her future in the Marvel franchise remains unclear. In May 2023, producer Pascal revealed to Variety that plans for another sequel had been halted due to the Writers Guild of America strike, which ended in September 2023. Meanwhile, lead star Holland told Collider last year that starring in a fourth film would “have to be worth the while of the character.”