They may play poor chaperones who tend to lose students — notably Spidey alter ego Peter Parker — but the antics of J.B. Smoove (Mr. Dell) and Martin Starr (returning as Mr. Harrington) provide plenty of comic relief in Spider Man: Far From Home.
The latest Spidey superhero flick is available now on digital and on 4K Ultra HD combo pack, Blu-ray combo pack and DVD Oct. 1 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
In playing the teacher/chaperones on a European trip with Parker and his friends, Smoove and Starr were encouraged to improvise and try alternate jokes.
“The writers were there as we were shooting it, so that there were a lot of things changing on the fly,” said Starr. “[Director] Jon Watts had a lot of ideas that he gave us to just play with, so we were given a fair amount of freedom to play.”
Smoove found comedy in playing it straight.
“Even when we had our arguments about everything that was going on — that he was messing up, losing tickets and didn’t have the hotel reservations right — I played it like I was mad as hell at this guy for not going his job,” Smoove noted.
One comic scene featuring the duo that ultimately didn’t make it into the film is included on the extras under “Teachers’ Travel Tips.”
“Jon Watts had an idea that, as we had gone on, Mr. Dell keeps thinking that I’m cursed, and it became like a running joke that we would throw into different scenes that Mr. Harrington is just cursed, so every hotel that he sets up, every city that they visit, every opportunity that they have for like going to the opera, everything becomes really just about me being cursed,” Starr said.
The duo played it as if the attack of the Elementals is part of that affliction.
“There’s a moment where [the curse] comes to a climax, where the Elementals are fighting in the river and I take responsibility, and I’m like, ‘Kids, go save yourselves. I’m the one they want,’” Starr said. “And then Mr. Dell leaves, too. And then I’m like screaming at the Elementals, ‘Take me! Take me!’ And I think it was the last thing to get cut.
“It was so close to being in the movie.”
As comic book fans themselves, both were thrilled to play supporting characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
“It was very cool,” Starr said. “Spider-Man was the only comic book that I had a subscription to. I’ve read a number of different comic books. X-Men and Spider-Man were the two that I read the most, but Spider-Man I had a subscription to, so it actually came to my house. This was very cool to become a part of this particular story.”
Smoove, too, relished comic books growing up.
“I would hop on the train in Mount Vernon and go to the Bronx,” he recalled. “They had this huge comic book store there. We would spend three or four hours there. Between buying stuff, and reading stuff until the guy told us to stop reading stuff and buy it, we would be there all day.”
He added, “I still have comic books somewhere in boxes in plastic. I might be sitting on a good hundred thousand dollars. If things go bad…”
Starr and Smoove Sept. 17 continued their chaperone duties by taking journalists and others on a “field trip” in Los Angeles to uncover some of the visual magic behind Spider-Man: Far From Home. The group visited The Third Floor Visualization, which created the pre-vis graphics for the film; Ironhead Studio, which designed costumes; and ended at The Magic Castle, where illusionist Jason Latimer used science to create illusions.