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Sunday, May 2, 2004


SAN FRANCISCO -- "Do you think I'd miss this?"

Spider-Man 2 star Tobey Maguire wasn't feeling well, but put on a good show at WonderCon on Saturday in his only convention appearance to promote the film.

As promised, Maguire brought along a clip that hasn't been shown in public before. It was an extended view of the scene between Peter and Mary Jane in the diner that's been shown in both trailers.

After the clip, Maguire deftly answered questions from fans, including adoring teenage girls, 5-year-olds and acting wannabes. He then autographed posters for 75 winners of a lottery on the convention floor.

Following is an edited transcription of the question-and-answer session:

Question: I know you're a vegetarian. How did you bulk up for Spider-Man? Did you eat lots of peanuts?

Maguire: I do love nuts. In fact my friends have a joke, "Tobey loves nuts." I ate a lot of soy protein and nuts and this and that. Nothing too exciting really.

Question: Was it harder establishing the character of Peter Parker in the first movie or continuing it in the second?

Maguire: It was more work in the first movie because I had to learn about it. As I said in interviews from the first movie, I hadn't read Spider-Man comics. I mean, I was familiar with Spider-Man and the Peter Parker character, but I didn't know it. So, for the first movie, I read the first four years of the comic book and did all the research on the characters and the relationships and the villains and all that stuff. So there was a lot more preparation getting to know the story and the people for the first movie. And it was much easier going into the second film.

Question: If you could have one of the powers of Spider-Man, which one would it be and why?

Maguire: I don't know. I think the webs are cool, but if you don't have the super-strength to deal with them, then I'd just be a weakling swining on a rope. I won't be able to hang on, so it's a complicated question. (Laughs) So I think you're going to have to take the strength. Without the strength, you got nothing else. So if I could jump high, big deal. You know what I mean. If I could swing, be deal. If I don't have the strength, I couldn't use that stuff.

Question: What type of regimen do you go through to change your body from Seabiscuit to Spider-Man?

Maguire: For the first Spider-Man, I was all gung-ho about this stuff. And I was doing six days a week, three or four hours a day, working out and on a very strict diet, which I had to continue for Seabiscuit and Spider-Man 2, but in different ways.

On the Spider-Man movies, I was eating about 2,800 calories per day. And on Seabiscuit, I was eating 1,400 calories a day. And this all gets very technical and boring.

And I was all gung-ho on the first movie, like, "I'm going to prove this to everybody and I'm going to prove this to myself. And I feel good and I'm in shape." And this and that.

And halfway through Seabiscuit, I'm like, "Just give me some donuts. I'm over it." And Spider-Man 2 rolls around and I'm like, "Do I really have to do this again? This sucks."

But it's fun to be in the movies and it's required for the movies. I'm not complaining about it. Just three or four hours a day working out is not what I like to do.

Question: You've done a few productions, where you've produced. Are there future projects where you might be producing?

Maguire: I have a few things in developments, things that were books that we have screenwriters developing. And other things that didn't come from books that I'm working on. I probably have five of six things I'm working on. Nothing that's ready to go yet. It's a long process. It's a tough process developing material. I think my other job is easier.

Question: Peter Parker seems to be a conflicted character. Is it hard to develop all that emotional turmoil on the set and then let it go of it at the end of the day?

Maguire: It is difficult sometimes to get into the head space of the character and to build up the conflict of what's going on for him. I don't, like, carry it home with me or anything like that.

I am constantly involved, though. When I start working on a movie like this, you can't help but think about it all the time when you go home. But it's not like I'm trapped in his conflicts. I'm just thinking about the relationships or what can I do and make it better.

The trick is to stay relaxed and energized throughout a work day so those emotionals can be accessible to you when you're called upon. Because so much of the time you're just sitting around waiting, and the hardest part is just to stay open and ready at any time. They go, "OK, Tobey, we need you. Here's your closeup. Now's the important moment of the movie. Go!"

And Sam (Raimi, director) will do that stuff to me, too. Sam is awesome. He'll say like, "OK, I hope you're prepared to be better than you've ever been in your life." But he does that almost every scene.

Question:In the comics, he has more of a humorous side. In part two, is he a little more funny?

Maguire: When Peter Parker is Spider-Man, you mean, with the little quips and stuff?

We may be dabbling in that a little bit more this time. We may be expanding that a little bit more.

"(In the comics), he's funny and kind of cocky and has all his quips and smart witty remarks. We're getting into that. We just don't want to overdo and make it cheesey. It's a little cheesier in a movie than in a comic book. We want to try to keep it real and have some respect for what we're putting out there. But we're trying to develop that side of his character a little bit more.

Question: And talk between you and Sam about part three?

Maguire: Yeah. I think we're doing it. I've actually seen a graph of the timeline of when we're supposedly have to have everything -- the script being written at this time, pre-production, production and release date. They already have it all planned out.

And Sam has given me a version of what he is thinking for the third movie. And I can tell you guys the whole storyline now. (laughs). Who's the villain? I won't say anything.

When I read the comics books, Doc Ock was always my favorite villain for the movies. I also like Sandman. I'd think he'd be a really cool villain.

Question: Is it really overwhelming to be Spider-Man?

Maguire: It's pretty weird, you know? It is weird. I'm just a kid running around. I'm just a kid who's an actor and trying to make a few bucks when I was 15, 16 years old. And I definitely had some dreams. And I'm very determined and focused. And I was working very hard, doing my art-house movies like The Ice Storm and Cider House Rules.

And then I heard about Spider-Man and I said, "Well, that's cool, but most movies in that genre -- meaning big, action effects movies -- aren't great." That genre isn't always great. Sometimes it's fun, but I was hesitant about it.

Then I met with Sam, and talking to him, his vision for the film was awesome and I thought he was going to bust this stuff open, kind of like he did with Evil Dead in his way then. And I think he's done that with the comic-book movie. I really think he's done an awesome job. I've really loved working with Sam and all credit to him for what he's created with these movies and what he's done with this character and I think he's really respected the character as well. It's been great and a lot of fun.

Question: Did you have Stan Lee advise you on the character?

Maguire: I've met Stan Lee, and he hasn't give me any personal advice. I think he probably felt like he gave me the bible, giving me the comic book, so I don't need anymore advice from him. It's all there, written down for me.

Like I said, I read the first four years of the comic book. And then just working from the script and with the director, Sam.

Question: Is Spider-Man the favorite movie that you've done?

Maguire: That's hard to say. I've loved doing most of the movies I've done, so it's hard to say it's my favorite. It was definitely a very unique experience. They're all very different. I'd say it's the most fun I've had on a movie.

I loved doing another movie that probably seven or eight people have seen called Ride with the Devil, which was a very different kind of experience. I was in Kansas City, stuck there for six months. We weren't near any trailers or sound stages. We were out in the middle of nowhere basically, and it was sweltering hot, but it was fun. It was roleplayer. It was Civil War and I was getting dressed up and we were riding horses. I really enjoyed that movie and researching that period. But it was different and more intense.

This movie's very dramatic -- as Sam likes to say, we're making our melodrama. But at the same time, it's a lot of fun. And I love working with the people.

And it's cool. Being a young man, when you're a boy, you're out playing cops and robbers and super-heroes. And then you find yourself at work and you go, "I'm getting paid to do this?"

Question: Does it get annoying wearing Spandex all the time?

Maguire: I do prefer jeans and a T-shirt. For a bathroom break, it's a half an hour. And the zipper's break and they have to sew me into the suit and then cut me out of it sometimes.

At first, it was a little strange walking around in a unitard basically. But you get used to it. I'm sitting there in my chair on the set and I'm talking to people like I'm normal.

It's OK. I do prefer jeans and a T-shirt.

Question: What was one of your favorite scenes?

Maguire: My favorite scene? I don't know. It's so hard. I guess one of the coolest parts of the job when I was first doing on the first movie when I was just getting to be on the wires and doing things that I didn't think I would get to do.

They put me in a harness and hooked me up to wires and said, "OK, now do a double back flip." And the first time I did it, I got a little cut on my hand -- which I still have a scar from -- because I had no idea what I was doing. And they basically didn't really care and said do it anyways. I tried to do a flip and my hands came out, and the wires cut my hand. Not that big of a deal, it didn't really hurt too much.

And I kept practicing doing that and now I'm pretty good at it, which is pretty cool. I can go on the set and I can pull a double back flip. Not that well, but I can do it. I can pull it off. So I like doing that stuff.

In terms of watching the movie, I enjoy in the first movie, one of the funnest parts is when I got to beat Flash up. That was pretty cool.

Question: Can you clear up the rumors about you doing the second film?

Maguire: Basically, coming out of Seabiscuit, and not because of Seabiscuit, I've been experience some discomfort in my back. And this is something that's been on and off for a few years.

And I saw the storyboards and animatics of the stunts I was going to have to do for Spider-Man 2. And I was a little concerned because it was much more complicated and difficult-looking than the first movie.

So I just brought it to their attention, "Hey, I have a little back discomfort and I'm a little nervous about it. I'm not sure about it."

And they, of course, did not want to hurt me and also wanted to make their movie. So I went down and worked with the stunt guys and got on the wires and did some of the stunts, just to feel it out and see how I felt. It was fine. I did two or three days of that down at the soundstages, and after that, it was all good.

Something happened. Somebody got some kind of weird story and the media just started going crazy with it. It was unbelievable.

But it was always all good. I guess there was a chance that if I couldn't do the stunts on those test days or if I didn't feel comfortable with it, I don't know what we would have done from that point. Luckily, we never had to get there.

Question: Did you ever think twice about taking the role of Spider-Man?

Maguire: I did think twice, not in terms of the stigma of it or being identified with Spider-Man. I thought twice because I'm careful with my decisions, not because I was worried about that sort of thing.

I enjoy doing the movies and I think it's fun, but I get to do other movies. This is cool. You can't get this doing Seabiscuit. It just doesn't happen, you know what I mean?

E-mail the Continuum at RobAlls@aol.com

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