Tom Holland stars opposite Naomi Watts in "The Impossible," based on the real-life story of a family separated by the deadly tsunami that hit Southeast Asia eight years ago.
His role of Lucas is a physically demanding one, which was not a problem for Holland, who played "Billy Elliot" on stage in London for almost two years.
"The kid that was going to play Lucas was also going to have a huge amount of pressure. So I guess 'Billy' showed that I can deal with pressure and stuff like that," Holland said.
Holland says he was ready for the role, but he still had to convince the director. During his audition, Holland was asked to do improvisation: He was asked to write a letter to his mother.
"I wrote this letter in my head, and when I said it, I started crying, and you could see (the director), and he's starting to tear, and you could see him sort of getting all emotional, which was an indicator that I was doing a good job," he said.
Another big "plus" for Holland was starring opposite Watts as his mother.
"She's so generous and so giving with her work. She taught me so much," Holland said. "She was able to just open up and give me all of her experiences and really, really help me and shape me as an actor."
Holland calls the filming of "The Impossible" emotionally grueling, but says "Billy Elliot" was tougher physically. Still, this was no walk in the park.
"I got hurt a lot, quite a bit, actually," Holland said. "You get home and like rubbing off the cuts that you had made on you and realizing that some of them were real."