Tuesday, June 29, 2004
SPIDER-MAN 2'S TOBEY MAGUIRE
CULVER CITY, Calif. -- The Continuum today continues it series of question-and-answer interviews from the Spider-Man 2 press junket with Tobey Maguire, who returns as Peter Parker/Spider-Man.
Following is an edited transcription of a roundtable interview conducted recently on the Sony lot.
Question: Can you talk a little bit about your back problems? Were you really worried you might not be able to do the picture?
Maguire: How long do you want the answer to be? This is the one we're really interested in, so this one could 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 bother me really at all, sometimes it might bothers me a little and sometimes 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 that I was to do on this movie. And I was a little concerned about it and felt it was my responsibility to disclose my back discomfort to the studio, to the insurance company and the filmmakers, which I did. They were unstandably concerned. Any of their actions that resulted in that report did not offend me or bother me in anyway. I understood 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. And we were all concerned about it.
Then I went in and 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 conditions, 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 kind of like much ado about nothing at that point. But it was what it was. I was 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 because there was insurances companies involved and whatnot. And then we were good to go.
And 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? I think because having had the experience of doing it before made it easier for me. And the harnesses were better than I wore and the wire rigs were easier for me for some reason, and, I don't know, my back just wasn't bothering me.
Question: With all the pressures, was it a pleasure? Or was there trepidation trying to follow it up?
Maguire: No trepdiation. And 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. It just has nothing to do with it.
What it has to 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. And, also, he's very collaborative and very open to me contributing my ideas, which I love and makes me feel like I'm a greater part of the filmmaking process. I like working with all the other people on the show, too, like Kirsten (Dunst) and James (Franco) and Rosemary (Harris) and Laura (Ziskin) and Avi (Arad). And Bill Pope was great.
I like everybody. It's a good show and it feels like a family situation. There's not like six of us, or nine of us, that all have the same tattoo, but I really like working with these people. (laughs)_
Question: How do you find that you've changed and what does that bring to Peter Parker?
Maguire: 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 don't really know; I haven't thought about it.
Peter Parker is just in a different place in his life. 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 he also, just being honest with people, at first just causes him pain. Just being around Aunt May is a painful experience because he's constantly racked with guilt and feelings of responsibility for all the bad things that have happened. He faced that situation and it helped their relationship.
Stuff is just wearing on him and he just 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 responsibility.
Question: Can you identify with him?
Maguire: I guess. It's a bit of a stretch. I get really busy and can feel somewhat overwhelmed at time. But my life is not at all like his. I mean, I have friends and family that I am close to. I am an actor.
Question: What's your take on him losing his powers?
Maguire: It's psychological and I think it starts to happen because he really doesn't want it any more. His system's rejecting it. It's casuing him so much personal inner turmoil and pain that his system is just rejecting it. And then I think it becomes a conscious choice, and when it becomes a conscious choice, then the powers really go away at that point.
Question: Wire services are reporting that you've said trailers are giving too much away.
Maguire I don't think I've ever said that. Do I want to say it?
Question: OK, in general are trailers giving away too much of movies? Do you think the trailer for this gave too much away?
Maguire: I don't think that this trailer gives away too much. I think it teases you with a couple of things. You see the thing in the alley and he says, "Spider-Man, no more." That's a big plot point that it implies, but there's no context to it. You don't really know what's going on, you don't know what that means. I think it's a good tease.
Then when Harry says, "Let's see who's beind the mask," that's another big (gasp). But you don't even know if that's me there. You don't know anything about that. I've had people ask me, "Is that you? Does he see you?" So I think it's a good teasy thing. It hints to some plot points and it teases. And I've had the right questions from people that I would imagine the people who made the trailer wanted people asking.
Question: Kirsten said she definitely does not want to make a fourth movie. Are you dead set against a fourth movie?
Maguire: I don't know if I would make a statement like that, but I don't anticipate doing a fourth movie.
...I think three's 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. (laughs). Never say never. Sony's a big company.
Question: There have been reports that in addition to your back it was a money issue and you were renegotiating your contract and you felt it was unfair that that producer got more money than you. What about those reports?
Maguire: That stuff wasn't true. We were renegotiating, but that stuff was settled before any of the back stuff came up. We were done with that at that point, as far as I remember. Maybe some of the finer points of the deal, but the bigger issues were done. The negotiations were fine. They were negotiations. I was asking for his, they wanted to give me that. Then we finally met somewhere. Normal negations.
Question: Do you find you have paparrazzi and media attention now because of Spider-Man?
Maguire: Yeah, it certainly happens a lot more to the guy who plays Peter Parker/Spider-Man than the guy who plays Homer Wells or whatever. It's just part of the territory, I guess.
Question: Can you talk a little about Alfred Molina as a foe for Spider-Man?
Maguire: I thought that Alfred did such a great job. I think that the character Doc Ock is a more interesting character cinematically than Green Goblin was. I love Willem (Dafoe) and think he did a great job. But I think 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 know what to expect from an actor. I'm a fan of his and I've seen him in some movies, and I think he's a terrific actor. But it's a very different kind of thing, and I think he did it very well. He gives you those delicision kind of one-liners perfectly and has the right humor and the right kind of sinister thing going on. And he's also very human and you care about him. And I think that the character is also written that way. And I think that cinematically Doc Ock is just way cooler than the Green Goblin.
Question: Sam said the movie was about the characters. Do you agree and is that why people respond?
Maguire: From my standpoint, it's all about character. The characters and the relationships, it's all I think about or all I come to work to do. I think there's a lot to this movie. I think that it's very well balanced with character and relationship and action and excitement and all that stuff. I don't know what attracts somebody to a movie or why you versus you would go see a movie. If you want to see Spider-Man action, or you go to see a love story or you like a little bit of all of it, I don't what attracts any individual to the film exactly, but it has a great mix and balance of all that stuff, and I think it appeals to a lot of people.
Question: Peter is very frustated in the movie. What are you frustrations?
Maguire: Talking to the media. (laughs) Just kidding. I don't have any great frustrations, really.
Question: What was your sense of Sam on this one? It seemed much more like a Sam Raimi movie.
Maguire: In terms of the working experience, it was very similar. You see it more in the work than in working with him. I understand what you're saying and I think that comes in a lot of ways. He got the experience of doing the first pictures. And even though he got to do a lot of crazy camera stuff in the Evil Deads and very complicated dramatic stuff in A Simple Plan or something like that, this was a different film than he had ever done. Even though he had the perfect training to do the first movie with everything he had done, it was still different. And to take Spider-Man and animate him and get into his movements and try to perfect all that stuff, I think was a learning experience. And he got to use his learning experience from the first picture, apply it to this one, also having more freedom as a filmmaker. He seemed to carry out whatever he imagined with ease.
When I saw this picture, my first reaction after I saw the picture was just, "Sam is a genius!" I love how he makes this movie. I love it. And I told Sam this after I saw the film and he just shrugs it off or whatever.
I said, "Not only is this better than the first movie. This is the best film you've ever made." Evil Deads movies are different; they're great movies. But I think this, in terms of being a complete movie, is the best movie he's ever made.
Question: There were a lot of complicated action scenes. Can you recall one scene that was tough for you?
Maguire: The whole train sequence was pretty difficult. The process of shooting that, and I don't even know how they put it together exactly. I know they started in Chicago, shooting plate shots of the train and that was a few months before we started shooting the picture; we didn't even have a final draft of the script. But they went all of that stuff and then we finally got to it, I don't even know how long we shot the train sequence for. It seemed like forever.
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