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INT: Tobey Maguire

This Wednesday, Tobey Maguire returns to the role that made him a superstar as he once again web-slings across the Manhattan skyline in SPIDER-MAN 2. Two years ago his return wasn’t so certain, as rumors of a debilitating back injury almost kept him out of the sequel. A concerned Sam Raimi even went so far as to contact Jake Gyllenhaal to see if the DONNIE DARKO star might be able to fill in.  Fortunately, rumors of Tobey’s demise were greatly exaggerated, and he was more than able to execute many arduous maneuvers that this film’s complicated action sequences required. Last week, the acclaimed actor (and charter member of Leonardo DiCaprio’s “Pussy Posse”) stopped by the Culver Studios in L.A. to talk about his experience making the second chapter on the Spider-Man saga.

TOBEY MAGUIRE

Prior to the start of filming, there was a lot of speculation about your back injury. How worried were you that you might not be able to make this film?

How long do you want the answer to be? This is what we’re really interested in, so this one can take up some time. First of all, this is a back condition I’ve had for three years or four years, on and off. Sometimes it doesn’t  really bother me at all. Sometimes it bothers me a little. Sometimes it bothers me a lot. Coming off of Seabiscuit it was bugging me a lot, not because of Seabiscuit. I did not injure my back on Seabiscuit. That was a false report. But it was bugging me quite a bit. I saw the animatics and the storyboards of the stunts I was to do on this movie and I was a little concerned about it. I felt it was my responsibility to disclose my back discomfort to the studio, to the insurance company and to the filmmakers, which I did. They were understandably concerned. Any of their actions that resulted in that report did not offend me or bother me in any way.

I understood that they have a multi-multi-million dollar investment that they had a start date for and an entire crew hired for, and everything was rushing towards a date five weeks away, to start this picture. We were all concerned about it. Then I went in with the stunt guys and worked on a few of the stunts to see how I was going to do. After I reported the stuff to them and told them about my condition my back started getting better. I told them about it and within about a week my back got better than it had been in three years or so. So it was much ado about nothing at that point. But it was what it was. I went in and did some of the work with the stunt guys. I was fine. I felt good. I told them I felt good.

There was other stuff involved just because there were insurance companies involved and whatnot. And then we were good to go. I did the film and it didn’t bother me throughout the whole filming. As a matter of fact it was easier than Seabiscuit and it was easier than Spider-Man 1. Why? Well, I think because having had the experience of doing it before made it easier for me and the harnesses that I wore were better and  the wire rigs were easier for me, for some reason. And my back just wasn’t bothering me.

Did you feel a lot of pressure following up such a huge hit?

No trepidation. It was a pleasure for me. None of my feelings had to do with the success of the first movie, in terms of making the second movie. That just had nothing to do with it. What it has to do with is that I really love working with Sam Raimi. He is a lot of fun. He’s a funny guy. I just get along with him very well. His sense of humor and mine kind of work together. Also, he’s very collaborative and very open to me contributing my ideas, which I love and makes me feel like a greater part of the filmmaking process. I like working with all the other people on the show, too, like Kirsten, James and Rosemary  and Laura (Ziskin) and Avi (Arad) and Bill Pope was great, Bob the editor. I like everybody. It was a good show and it feels like a family situation. There’s not six of us or nine of us who all have the same tattoo or whatever, but I really like working with these people.

How have both you and Peter Parker changed since the first film?

I’m not sure how I’ve changed. I’m a few years older and I think I’ve changed a little bit, as one would. I haven’t really thought about it. Peter Parker is just in a different place in his life. I think it’s wearing on him. It’s wearing on him, being Spider-Man and not having a life of his own. I always thought it was peculiar to me how this kid couldn’t see how he could just have a little balance in his life and things would be a little better for him. But there are complications to that, which I understand. He doesn’t want to put his loved ones in danger and also, just being honest with people, at first causes him pain. Just being around Aunt May at first is a painful experience because he’s constantly wracked with guilt and feelings of responsibility for all the bad things that happened. He faced that situation and it helped their relationship. It helped set him free in their relationship. So I think that stuff is just wearing on him. He wants a life of his own. He wants to have some kind of balance in his life, but he also has these gifts and wants to use them responsibly.

There’s a point in Spider-Man 2 where he begins losing his powers. Why do you think it happens?

I think it’s psychological and it starts to happen because he really doesn’t want it anymore. His system is rejecting it. It’s causing him so much personal inner turmoil and pain that his system is rejecting it. And then I think it becomes a conscious choice, and when it becomes a conscious choice the powers really start to go away. They really go away at that point.

Are you definitely set against doing a fourth Spider-Man movie?

I don’t know that I would make a statement like that, but I don’t anticipate doing a fourth movie. Look, I think that three is probably enough for me, but you never know. If they sent me a script that was better than any other script I’ve ever read and offered me a piece of Sony Corporation...never say never, you know? Sony is a big company.

What was it like working with Alfred Molina?

I thought Alfred did such a great job. I think that the character of Doc Ock is a more interesting character, cinematically, than Green Goblin was. I loved Willem (Dafoe) and I thought he did a great job, but I think that Doc Ock is one of the best movie villains ever. Alfred got to play that, which is cool, and he did it extremely well. You never really know what to expect from an actor. I’m a fan of his and I’d seen him in some movies. I think he’s a terrific actor. But it’s a very different kind of thing and I thought he did it very well. He gives you those delicious one-liners perfectly and he has the right humor and the right kind of sinister thing going on. And he’s also very human. You care about him. I think the character is also written that way. And then, cinematically, I think that Doc Ock is just way cooler than the Green Goblin..

What are the frustrations involved in making these big event films?

Talking to the media. Ha-ha-ha-ha. Just kidding. I don’t have any great frustrations, really. Yeah, I get overwhelmed. I have all kinds of regular feelings about stuff. But if I get perspective on it, my problems are quality problems, basically.

This film feels more like a throwback to Sam Raimi’s earlier films. How did the experience on the set compare to that of the first film?

In terms of the working experience it was very similar. You see it more in the work more than in actually working with him. I understand what you are saying, and I think that comes in a lot of ways. I think he got to have the experience of doing the first picture, which, even though he did a lot of crazy camera stuff in the EVIL DEAD movies and very complicated dramatic stuff in A SIMPLE PLAN or something like that, (Spider-Man 1) was a different film than he’d ever done. Even though he had the perfect training to do SPIDER-MAN, with everything he’d done, it was still different to take Spider-Man and animate him and get into his movements and try to perfect all that stuff. I think it was a learning experience.

I thought he got to use his learning experience from the first picture and apply it to this one, also having more freedom. I don’t know what means, because the studio was very supportive to Sam on the first picture. But however it was he seemed to have more freedom as a filmmaker on this one and seemed to carry out what he imagined with ease on this picture. When I saw this picture, my first reaction after I saw it was, “Whoo, Sam is a genius. I love how he made this movie. I love it. I told Sam this after I saw the film” and of course he just shrugs it off, but I said, “Not only is this better than the first movie, I think this is the best movie you’ve ever made.” The EVIL DEAD movies are different. Those are great movies, but this, in terms of being a complete movie, I think is the best movie he’s ever made.

Are you becoming more comfortable with celebrity?

I guess maybe I’m slightly more comfortable with it, but not much.. It just is what it is. I experienced some celebrity prior to Spider-Man, but after the release of Spider-Man 1, I was jarred by it for literally like two days. It was a little shocking, like “Oh my gosh, there are four or five cars following me around.” There have been a few moments like that, where it was a little jarring to me. Now I pretty much just try not to pay attention to it. I don’t particularly love all that side of it, but it just is what it is.

What kinds of roles are you looking for now?

I don’t know, really. There are so many things I enjoy watching, in terms of movies and different kinds of movies. I love scary movies. I really love them, thrillers, just scary movies, but not like horror films, although I’ll watch a horror film and like it. I like a MARATHON MAN kind of movie. I love THE SHINING. I like those kinds of films. I like comedies. I like romantic comedies. But I like the best of everything. I like a romantic comedy, but I like WHEN HARRY MET SALLY. I like a big epic kind of movie like DOCTOR ZHIVAGO.

So many people see Spidey unmasked in this film. How do you feel about it happening so soon within the series?

I can’t really put it in the context of the series because although I’ve heard a little bit about the third one I don’t know enough about it to know how that affects the third one. I think it’s significant to Peter and his relationships, and it definitely affects him in this one, with Mary Jane. I think his honesty with Aunt May, which is an unmasking of sorts, affects him greatly personally. I think he’s trying to learn how to live with it, which was something that was very difficult for him in the start of the picture.

Questions? Comments? Manifestos? Send them to me at [email protected].

Source: JoBlo.com

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