Talking (Spider) Sense with "Spider-Man 3" Actor Tobey Maguire

"Spider-Man" 3 opens nationwide on May 4th, and in anticipation of the event, CBR News will be in the coming days presenting a number of new special spider-features. Yesterday we talked to director Sam Raimi, and in this second of a series of interviews with the cast and crew of "Spider-Man 3," CBR News spoke with actor Tobey Maguire about the new film, his character, and his future with the franchise.

Did you ever think you were going to be an action figure growing up, and what does it mean to you?

I didn't think so and not much.

How much involvement did you have in the evolution of your character's arc in this movie?

Well, the basic storyline was laid out. For me it had to do with, "I'd like to see him go further in this direction, I'm not interested in that stuff as much." You know, getting into the specifics of it and adjusting the tone, but the basic story was there.

The funniest moment of this film is the swaggering down the street and looking at the girls and seeing their reactions. How much of that was scripted and how much was improvised?

I had a choreographer and a couple of people I worked with. For the walk, the general idea of it was choreographed and we riffed from there Sam would say, "Throw this out! Do this!" And then I would throw in some thoughts and ideas and just messed around with it.

What would it take to get you on board for a fourth film?

For me there would have to be a great screenplay, a great story, something really worth doing. Some new territory for us to go on with Peter Parker. Sam would have to be involved. The right cast would have to be in place. And then I would consider it. The studio will make more Spider-Man movies one way or another. You never know until you're there so it's hard to say what people's mind frames are like. You know, Warner Bros. with Superman and Batman. They can recast, they can bring in new people and re-conceive things and have a different take. Who knows whether we continue this story with this cast of people or not? You don't know until there's something in front of you.

Throughout this process, what has been the biggest surprise for you in terms of your own life and work?

I guess there are things that I didn't expect. I'm kind of like an easy-going person and take everything in stride. I've definitely had some moments where I think things are super cool and I've had a lot of fun with it, but to me it all is what it is and I just accept things and keep moving forward. I don't take a lot of time to reflect on this stuff, although I am very grateful and appreciative. Peter reacts very differently [to his fame] than I do. He is very reflective about it, soaking it in, but in a different way. He just loves it. It gets to his head and he becomes kind of arrogant and believes his own hype. He's got a big self-importance. I love the scenes where Peter Parker is trying to give Mary Jane advice. It's hilarious to me. Nobody really laughs at those scenes and I'm just sitting there cracking up because I just find them so funny. So, our experiences are different.

Can you talk about the challenges of being in these major action set pieces? They keep on getting bigger and bigger.

It's a lot of work. I mean, it's cool, the results are great and it's kind of like a means to the end and that's what helps sometimes with staying motivated through that stuff. You have so much downtime and then you've got to go and get yourself to the height of an action sequence and you shoot something and it's maybe one to six seconds of film. It can probably take a month for us to shoot a major action sequence and we still have to come back and shoot some more later. There are different elements that we're putting together to create it. Sam is a great visualist and does it with humor and is really great with the camera and has a great eye for that stuff. That's largely in his hands. I try to contribute and be supportive and participate in helping them as much as possible. Another thing that's interesting about our action sequences is we try to give them character, where they have meaning. It's not like you're taking a break from the story to go watch an action sequence.

Outside of this franchise, what is it that excites you as an actor?

I want to do everything. I love movies and I want to work in every genre. I just want to work with great filmmakers who I respect and admire. As an actor I want to do everything and challenge myself and stretch myself. I don't really have any set ideas about what I want to do.

What are you doing now?

Right now I'm promoting "Spider-Man 3."

Are you signed up for anything else? Have you shot anything else that hasn't come out yet?

I really wasn't being a smartass, I'm really just promoting "Spider-Man 3" right now.

Then what's the story with "Tokyo Sucker Punch?"

It's something I'm developing at my production company. Ed Solomon is writing the screenplay right now. It's based on a book by Isaac Adamson. It's a character, Billy Chaka, who lives in Cleveland and does this kind of manga thing. He uses a heightened version of himself in this thing and it's really a fantasy of who he is. Really, he's this small town kid in Cleveland who has a cult following and thinks he's more worldly than it is. He has to go to Japan because they've made a movie out of the Billy Chaka character. He goes to Japan to be a part of the thing. You know, reluctantly, he doesn't really want to go. So he ends up getting involved in a Billy Chaka kind of adventure in Tokyo. I'm very excited about it.

If they were going to make a superhero team up film, would you consider being a bit-player? Say an Avengers type of movie.

I don't know. It depends on what the movie was and who the filmmaker was. That would probably be pretty complicated in terms of just getting different studios to figure it out as they have the rights to those certain characters. It'd probably be pretty hard to figure out. But let's just say that in the fantasy world where all that is figured out, it would depend. If I could go in and it would be more of a fun little thing where I went and worked for a couple days. I probably wouldn't go and work for several months and be in an ensemble type of thing, no. You never know, but I really doubt it. Would I walk through a scene and have a little conversation as Peter Parker with a bit of red suit showing that was just kind of like a fun little moment with a director that I loved in a movie I thought was going to be great, then yeah I would consider that.

Was it nice after two movies getting to switch to the black suit?

It was fun. Just to have a different suit, sure, but also what it represented. How it allowed us to explore new ground for Peter Parker.

And the dance sequence?

It was fun, we had fun doing that. It was interesting and fun and I thought really helped define where he was at that time.

Did you take home any souvenirs from the movie?

I don't really take home souvenirs. I'm not a big stuff guy, which is really the answer to the first question about action figures. I'm just not into stuff like that. To have an action figure, it's kind of weird and interesting and fun the first time you see it, but to me stuff is almost like a burden.

Isn't your fiancé's jewelry in the movie?

Yeah. MJ's heart shaped locket is designed by Jen, my fiancé.

Did you like the challenges in this film with 3 villains?

Yeah, and I thought what was really impressive is how Sam wove all the stories together and didn't make it feel disjointed. It really came together under common themes. I feel like that was the greatest challenge, which wasn't really my job, but it's what I was most impressed with.

What's your favorite part of the movie?

I don't know. I probably had the most fun playing the darker side of Peter just because it was different, fun and kind of unexpected for the character.

Did you feel any challenges regarding expectations from the fans?

I don't really feel pressure in that way. We definitely are all working hard trying to make the best movie we can make. I have those kinds of standards for myself no matter what I'm doing. I feel like Avi Arad is very much involved and Sam Raimi's obviously helming the ship so they're much more tapped into like what's appropriate for the Spider-Man fans. That's more their responsibility. For me, I just show up and try to make the best movie I can make. Not to say I'm not aware of that, but I pass the buck over to them on that one.

It's got to be an appropriate movie for what it is. It's a big budget action adventure comic book movie. You have to deliver in all the ways you're supposed to deliver. It's got to be a thrill ride, you've got raise the bar. It's got to be fun and entertaining. We want it to be funny and emotional. I'm aware of everything I'm trying to do. I'm not thinking about anybody who's sitting there waiting for the movie while I'm on set every day. I'm just trying to make the best movie I can.

"Spider-Man" was your first major, big-budget film in this genre. What have you learned from this whole experience?

I'm not quite sure what I've learned, but I know I've learned a lot. It's been six years and I feel like I'm more at ease in general when working, which is great. One of the things I've gained is a great relationship with a lot of the crew and the cast and especially with Sam. I really love working with Sam. Such a pleasure, we have so much fun together. He's so collaborative. He's fun. He's funny. I go to set and I'm having a blast. I wake up in the morning and it's not a nightmare that I'm up at 5:30, 6:00 in the morning. I'm groggy, I gotta jump in the shower, but I'm excited to go off to work.


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