Thomas Haden Church did not shoot a scene for this sequel. However, it appears on the screen, created 100% digitally.
Kelly Port, responsible for overseeing the visual effects of Spider-Man: No Way Home, revealed in an interview with Before and Afters that the various teams dealing with VFX had been able to recreate L’Homme-Sable without ever recalling Thomas Haden Church, who played him in Sam Raimi’s third film, in 2007. The actor was therefore not present on the filming, while it is clearly visible on the screen. How is it possible ? Here are the details.
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Kelly Port reveals that three different companies were involved in recreating Flint Marko / Sandman: Digital Domain (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), Luma (Avengers, Loki…) and Imagework (already on the previous ones Spiderman by Jon Watts). “There are two versions of the character, she explains. One who is more humanoid and who talks, then when he’s in the Sanctum (from Doctor Strange, editor’s note). Digital Domain took care of much of this work. Luma did the scene called “from the hall”, where The Sandman is introduced, as well as when Electro arrives and they have a short fight before they all meet and are sent to the Sanctum. . In these scenes, electricity plays a big role, it looks really good in a good movie theater. For the big ending battle, Imageworks created this bigger Sandman. There was a lot to deal with in this sequence. (…) I also remember that when we started talking about bringing Sandman back, there were strong reactions from the people who had worked on his previous version. They were all traumatized! So I knew what to expect, that it would be a hell of a challenge in terms of technique and creativity, to bring him back and make him look cool, behave a certain way. I think we succeeded in that, in the end. He’s cool.” When the reporter asks her if they worked with Thomas Haden Church, she replies: “We had access to his voice. We didn’t get to use a lot of visuals of him, but we had access to his voice and scans of his face, previous textures, things like that.” Concretely, this means that they did not need to call on the actor.
If Jamie Foxx and Willem Dafoe have taken over the costumes of their respective villains, Electro and the Green Goblin, this is not the case of Thomas Haden Church, nor of Rhys Ifans, who played the Lizard in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014). Note that Kelly Port analyzes other visual effects of No Way Home during this interview, as the “mirrorverse” (when the city of New York turns on itself), or even the digital rejuvenation of Doc Ock (Alfred Molina).
Willem Dafoe agreed to return to Spider-Man on one condition