Tom Holland Attacked For Romeo & Juliet Performance

By Nina Phillips | Published

With the release of James Lloyd Company’s Romeo & Juliet cast a week ago, many people have grown angry at the casting for one of the leading roles. While Tom Holland (Spider-Man: Homecoming) has turned many eyes to the theater world now that he’ll be playing Romeo, his co-star is gaining attention in a much more negative way. Francesca Amewudah-Rivers (Bad Education) will be playing Juliet, and people have much to say about that.

Online Backlash At Francesca Amewudah-Rivers Casting

Tom Holland faced some abuse from keyboard warriors, but most of the hate was targeted at his co-star. Francesca ended up dealing with a barrage of racist comments and remarks after the full cast was announced at the beginning of April. Tom Holland’s part in Romeo & Juliet was announced in February, but the actress to play the role of Juliet was announced with the rest of the cast in April, which is when the harassment started.

Additional actors include Freema Agyeman (Doctor Who), Michael Balogun (War of the Worlds), Tomiwa Edun (What Happened to Monday), and Joshua-Alexander Williams (Prompt Date).

The Theater Responds

The Jamie Lloyd Company, the producer of Tom Holland’s Romeo & Juliet, isn’t taking well to the abuse either. They’ve released a statement about the barrage and their team. “This must stop. We are working with a remarkable group of artists. We insist that they are free to create work without facing online harassment. We will continue to support and protect everyone in our company at all costs. Any abuse will not be tolerated and will be reported. Bullying and harassment have no place online, in our industry or in our wider communities.”

Racial Issues In The World Of Acting

actors strike

Unfortunately, racism is still a huge part of today’s world, and it’s not limited to theater plays like the case with this Tom Holland Romeo & Juliet production. Based on a survey in 2021 titled Race Between the Lines: Actors’ Experience of Race and Racism in Britain’s Audition and Casting Process and on Set, it was found that 64 percent of those who responded to the survey experienced racism and faced stereotypes during auditions, and 79 percent felt roles they were chosen for stereotyped their ethnicities. 55 percent of respondents mentioned that they experience racist behavior in the workplace.

Tom Holland’s Stage Career

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Even with the negative feedback, the cast and crew are very excited. Though Tom Holland has performed in several TV shows and movies, including The Crowded Room, and Spider-Man, and has become a very popular young actor, his career started on the stage. It makes sense that he’d want to go back to participating in plays at some point. This will be his first role on a live stage since Billy Elliot: The Musical.

As for Tom Holland’s costar, while she’s been in several movies and TV series, this will be Amewudah-Rivers’ West End debut. She does have experience with other theater roles, such as Macbeth at Shakespeare’s Globe, but Romeo & Juliet is set to be her biggest to date.

Tom Holland’s Romeo & Juliet Production Is Sold Out

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Despite the criticisms, tickets for the play sold out quickly, with thousands waiting in the online queue as soon as the pre-sale went live. It will play at London’s Duke of York’s Theatre between May 23 and August 3 of 2024, and the run is already sold out.