Tom Holland redefined what singing in the rain means — or at least lip-synching in the rain.
The Spider-Man: Homecoming star gave a showstopping performance of Rihanna’s 2007 pop hit “Umbrella” on an episode of Spike’s Lip Sync Battle in May, complete with elaborate choreography, pyrotechnics and stage precipitation.
“It was more nerve-wracking than Spider-Man,” Holland, 21, tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “That was so stressful; it was probably the biggest thing I’ve had to get over.”
Holland, who spent most of his early life as a talented young dancer, performed the song in a Rihanna-inspired getup. “I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t mind being in drag,” he says, but reveals he declined to dance in heels — a decision he now regrets.
“I said, ‘You want me to dance in the rain and do a front flip? I can’t do that in heels,’ ” he says. “I wish I had now. That would have shut things down.”
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Since songs aren’t confirmed for the show until hours before filming, Holland had a backup plan that involved a little Britney Spears just in case.
“I didn’t have approval on ‘Umbrella’ until like five hours before we did the show,” he says. “There’s the contingency of, ‘If you don’t do this, then you’ll be doing Britney and we’ll teach you a new dance.’ “
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His episode, which first aired on MTV in May ahead of the MTV Movie & TV Awards, pit him against his Spider-Man costar Zendaya, who performed “24K Magic” in full Bruno Mars regalia.
“Zendaya got sent flowers from Bruno Mars and I keep saying [Rihanna’s] new song is about me as a joke,” Holland says. “But I haven’t heard from her.”