Let’s talk about the casting of the film. Obviously a lot of actors auditioned for the role of Peter Parker. What made you decide to go with Tobey Maguire, who up until now has shown little range as an action/superhero-type star? ^ I had been interviewing a lot of different actors for the role of Peter Parker. All the kids in America grew up reading Spider-Man so a lot of the young kids were interested– all the young actors you could think of. The studio had been sending me tapes starring all these young actors, and Cider House Rules was one of them. My wife saw it and said, ‘you’ve got to see this guy — he’s brilliant.’ So I saw it and I thought he was brilliant — very real, very powerful in that performance. I thought, ‘this guy is just great’ and it looked like he could play 17-years-old, which that in itself — that first criteria — limits the available actors we are all aware of down to 5% of what you might think. Cause even if they are a young guy, if you really sit down and think about it you may say, ‘he couldn’t really play someone younger than 21. He couldn’t play 17 — that would be very tough.’ So I then met with Tobey and he seemed very personable, intelligent, had a charisma and we could communicate very well. We then met again and the communication was very important to me. This is somebody who we were going to have the audiences absolutely identify with. They were going to take this journey of becoming a hero through him, so he had to be my vessel in many respects. I had to be able to think his thoughts and he had to be able to think mine. We had to communicate and collaborate in a very intimate basis– more so than sometimes your lover or your wife because you are with this person every minute and you are talking about how you feel about everything– how you really feel — and if it was true or false… you’ve got to be honest with each other. You can’t really get a sense of someone in two days and know if you can work in that rather intense way, but the best that I could guess was I really liked Tobey and he had a sense of humor, which told me a lot about that we could work together. So that’s when, in answer to your question, I felt that it was it. Watching his performance in the movie was most of it, but knowing that he was intelligent and communicative was the rest of it.
Obviously Maguire had to go through some sort of routine to get in shape for a role that’s this physically demanding. How did he change physically during the making of the film? ^ Physically, he could answer this question better, but we got him a trainer for his body to keep him slim but make him tight– we didn’t want a muscle man. We wanted a live body of an acrobat. I had my stunt coordinator work with him on a daily basis on wire training, to get familiar with these harnesses that he’d be flying in quite a bit. We also got him a dance trainer to work on his rhythm and movement cause Spider-Man is really a dancer of the skies. Tobey would know the rest better, but he got himself in shape.
How much of this did you personally require? ^ I was insisting on all of these things. I needed to get him in shape. I wanted to make him move gracefully so that I could meet the audience’s expectations of how Spider-Man should move. I think we all know from looking at these still pictures of him, from 40 years in the comics, that he is live and has great flexibility and agility — great grace. So Tobey tried to learn this as much as a human being can learn such a thing in the six months that he had to prepare for it.
Was it harder to direct Maguire when he was playing the superhero, given the fans’ obsession with what Spider-Man should look and act like? ^ No. For me Spider-Man doesn’t even exist — it’s always Peter Parker. And I always try to direct the scenes like Peter Parker is in the scene, just with more freedom since he’s wearing a mask and losing his sense of identity just a bit. I actually only tried to direct Spider-Man as though he was Peter — keep that character alive — because that’s what’s so different about Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s creation of Spider-Man in my opinion. That is that in the early ’60s they had the intelligence and the creativity to make a super hero that was a human being first and foremost. When you think about Superman, he only pretends to be that bumbling Clark Kent — Clark Kent doesn’t even exist. They took the opposite approach so I just directed everything I had toward that approach. Let’s make Peter Parker a real character. Let’s make Spider-Man not some invincible icon, but a flawed human being wearing this pretty colored outfit, doing the best that he can and just doing the right thing. And once he does the right thing, let him worry if he did the right thing or not. Superman is never caught awake in bed one night wondering, ‘hmm… should I have done something different?’ He’s always so certain that what he’s done is right and I’m never that way. Except when I was a bus boy. When I was a bus boy I knew — in fact, I prided myself on doing the best I could at these tables — that no one could ever be a better bus boy than me. I had done my job perfectly and I would sleep perfectly at night. But that time passed. Everything else in my life is filled with questions and self-doubt, and that’s why I like Spider-Man. He addresses that — he’s one of us. He questions the morality of his actions often.
Get the rest of the interview in part four of SPIDER-SAM: RAIMI BRINGS A COMIC BOOK LEGEND TO LIFE>>>
Posted on May 1, 2002 in Interviews by Heather Wadowski
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