Spiderman 2 : An Interview with Tobey Maguire
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By Wilson Morales
Spiderman 2 : An Interview with Tobey Maguire
Tobey Maguire happens to be a very good actor. For as many movies he has done these last few years, he hasn't been stuck to one character that would be his long lasting calling card, not even Spiderman. He's the sort of person that can bring believability to the character. After riding "Seabiscuit" to critical acclaim and many Oscar nominations, Tobey is back again wearing the red and black outfit in the sequel "Spiderman 2". In an interview with blackfilm.com while promoting the film in LA, Tobey spoke about the back injury that almost prevented him from taking on the role again as well as getting back in shape for the role.
HOW'S YOUR BACK AND WHAT KIND OF PUNISHMENT DID YOU TAKE ON THIS FILM?
MAGUIRE: My back is good, thank you. And the punishment wasn't so bad. Peter took a lot more punishment than I did. Going into the movie I was definitely concerned because I saw the stunts that I was going to have to do and the degree of difficulty looked much greater than the first film. I was a little concerned about that. But in actuality, the stunts were easier for me. My back was fine the whole way through.
MAGUIRE: I think that the harnesses and the wire rigs and stuff were better somehow. I don't know what made them better, but I was more comfortable in them with certain stunts. The aerial stuff was easier.
WHAT KIND OF PROGRAM DO YOU HAVE IN TERMS OF GETTING PHYSICALLY FIT DO YOU HAVE IN GETTING READY FOR A FILM LIKE THIS?
MAGUIRE: Well, I go on a diet where I'm on it six days a week and on the seventh day, I give myself a free day. The same goes with my workouts. My workouts vary pretty greatly, but I spend anywhere from two to four hours in the gym per day, six days a week. It's a combination of strength training and cardiovascular stuff as well as stretching stuff, or whatever else. Whatever I feel like doing. WHEN YOU DO THE 'SPIDER-MAN' POSTURES OR POSES, DID YOU COME UP WITH THOSE OR
WERE THOSE GIVEN TO YOU?
MAGUIRE: I understand what you're asking. A little bit of both. Chris Daniels our stunt guy is one of the guys who was appointed to study all of the poses of 'Spider-Man.' I'm also pretty familiar with Spider-Man's poses and movements and whatnot. So it's a combination of those things. I'm free to do whatever I want. Then Sam will say, 'No, not quite. Try this. Try something different.' If I'm at a loss or want a little help, I'll say, 'Hey Chris, what do you think of this? Give me an idea,' or whatever. It's a collaborative effort.
WAS IT HARD GOING INTO THIS FILM KNOWING WHAT WAS RIDING ON IT AND THAT THE FIRST ONE WAS SUCH A SUCCESS?
MAGUIRE: Well, there's a big difference, but for me in terms of preparation and just in terms of my experience working as an actor, in terms of the way that you posed the question which seemed to do with pressure in terms of it's success or whatever, I don't really care about that stuff. I mean, not that I don't care at all, but that's not what I'm thinking about it.
WHAT ABOUT THE PRESSURE OF JUST PLAYING THE CHARACTER THAT EVERYONE WANTS TO SEE?
MAGUIRE: Yeah. No real pressure there either. Going into the second one was pretty easy for me because I have all the back history of doing the first one and I know the back story of all the character and the relationships. So I'm very comfortable with the character and like I said, going into it was pretty easy and the working relationships are good. I like working with Sam. So it was pretty easy for me. In terms of pressure of it's success or how people view Spider-Man the character and all of that stuff, I wasn't concerned with it on this one or the first one or any of it. I mean I want to do a good job, and I want people to enjoy the film. So I do the best that I can.
WHAT'S IT LIKE WATCHING THE FILM WITH YOUR BUDDIES?
MAGUIRE: I'm just watching the film. I'm well past wondering what other people experiences are especially when I'm going to see it for the first time. I just want to see the film. And I enjoyed it. I liked the film. I guess that I'll probably go sneak into a theater or two opening weekend just to see how the general public, the audience is responding to the movie. So in that case, I'll be looking for people's reaction, but last night I was just going to see the movie.
DO YOU EVER SEE YOURSELF TAKING A PART TO CHEW THE SCENERY OR DO SOMETHING WHACKY OR WILL YOU?
MAGUIRE: Well, I think that even if I did something that was broader or a more extroverted character, you know, or a tone of a film that was different, that required something like that, I would still be taking it seriously. Big comedy is very serious. No matter what, I would approach it from the same standpoint. I'm hoping to do something that is definitely not, or won't allow me to be that internal. Also, someone like Gary Oldman who is a bigger actor, but very believable and I love his acting and his acting style, I just think that I'm not that kind of an actor, but I love watching that stuff.
ARE YOU 'SPIDER-MAN' SAVVY?
MAGUIRE: Am I 'Spider-Man' savvy? How much do I know about the comic books?
COMPARED TO SOMEONE LIKE SAM RAIMI?
MAGUIRE: Well, I'm not sure. I know that Sam read the comic books as a kid. I read the first four years of the comic book a couple of years ago when we did the first film. I'm pretty knowledgeable about the character and the different character within the comic book. I'd probably do pretty well. I'm not an expert.
ANY CHANCE THAT YOU'D DO 'SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE' AGAIN IN THE NEAR FUTURE?
MAGUIRE: Well not in the near future. I had a good time. I enjoyed doing it. So I would do it again if they asked me and I wanted to at the time.
DO YOU WANT TO DO MORE COMEDIC ROLES?
WAS THERE A CHALLENGE TO DO A SEQUEL AND IT'S THE FIRST ONE YOU'VE EVER DONE?
MAGUIRE: Well, he's at a different place in his life. It's a different movie to me. It's the same character and the same relationships, but he's in a different place. It's different. It was easy for me to step into it. It's an easy working relationship and I'm getting more and more comfortable just working in general. But yeah it's challenging. Everything is challenging when you go into a day of work. It's always challenging. I don't know. It wasn't hard work in terms of preparation.
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT 'SEABISCUIT' AND THE CONCEPT OF A HERO WHICH IS CENTRAL TO THIS STORY, IS THAT IMPORTANT TO HAVE IN OUR TIME?
MAGUIRE: I'm not sure. I don't really think about it like that. I think that what's interesting about this character and this movie and the choices that he has and he has to go through aren't so much the extraordinary circumstances of him being Spider-Man and how that affects his personal life and I appreciate that, but what I like about that is that it parallels kind of a normal kid growing up and a kid's choices in terms of becoming an adult and how to live one's life and what choices to make and responsibility. Yes, being a giving person or contributing to society and really he's dealing with how to live a balanced life, how to live a life for himself as well as do for others. I think that his is a dramatic, conflicted path, but pretty basic.
WAS THE SUIT MORE COMFORTABLE THIS TIME AROUND?
MAGUIRE: It was the same from the first one to the second one. I don't know if that's an adequate assessment. I guess that it was maybe a little more comfortable in the second one. Not because it actually was, but just because I got used to it. I don't complain about it anymore because who cares, you're just learning the thing. It's not terrible. It's just a little uncomfortable. It's just more comfortable to be in regular clothes.
WAS IT ITCHY?
MAGUIRE: It's not itchy at all. No.
DOES IT RIDE UP IN THE CROTCH?
MAGUIRE: It can a little bit. Yeah. It can. It's not really the outerwear of the suit though. It's the inner-wear of the suit that rides up.
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE CHALLENGE OF BEING A ROLE MODEL AND AVOIDING STEREOTYPES AS AN ACTOR, DO YOU WORRY ABOUT THOSE THING?
MAGUIRE: I'm not really that concerned about either of those things.
MAGUIRE: I know that people think of me as Spider-Man and I know that most of the people who have seen me in movies, a big part of those people have only seen me in 'Spider-Man.' But I'm just not worried about it. I never think about it. Only when the press asks me those questions, that's the only time I think about it.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE WHEN SAM CAME TO YOU AND TOLD YOU THAT YOU WEREN'T GOING TO BE PLAYING SPIDER-MAN?
MAGUIRE: In your question, you made a statement that never happened. Sam never came to me and said, 'You're not going to be playing Spider-Man.' He never came to me and said that I wasn't going to be playing Spider-Man. So that never happened.
HE DID EXPRESS A CONCERN THAT YOU WEREN'T GOING TO BE DOING IT AGAIN. DID YOU WANT TO DO IT AGAIN?
MAGUIRE: I really did want to do this again. Whatever happened outside of me in terms of your comments about Sam saying this or that, I wasn't involved in that aspect of it. So I don't know about that. From my perspective, if you want to know my experience rather than presuming things and making statements of which you have no idea, if you'd like to know what actually happened from my side, I'll tell you.
MAGUIRE: Thank you. [Sigh] The press. My back coming out of 'Seabiscuit' was not great and not because of 'Seabiscuit.' The reports of this happening on 'Seabiscuit' were absolutely false. It's a condition that I've had for several years through 'Spider-Man 1.' Before 'Spider-Man 1,' through 'Spider-Man 1', and all the way until right now. It's a condition that I've had that goes up and down. Sometimes it irritates me more than other times. Coming out of 'Seabiscuit,' it was really bugging me more than it ever had which I think was for several reasons. Some of the workouts I was doing were not good. I was compressing my back a lot and doing a lot of squats and stuff like that as well as a lot of pounding exercises like running for example or basketball. Those kinds of things don't help. It was all these little things adding up that put pressure on it as well as riding a horse. That's probably not the best thing, but that did not injure my back. Also, I was working fourteen hours a day and not getting a great amount of sleep and starting to not be able to stretch as much and do certain core exercises that help protect my back. So my back was in the worst place that it had been in a few years and then I saw the animatics and the storyboards of the different stunts. It was three times, I thought or whatever, what it was on the first movie. I was just going, 'Wow, this is a lot of stuff. I think that the responsible thing to do is disclose my back condition to the insurance company because this is an X hundred million dollar film and it would be irresponsible not to disclose that and something happen to me in the middle of the movie and screw the studio over and the insurance company be pissed and maybe screw up my career.' So I disclosed my condition.
WHAT'S THE CONDITION CALLED?
MAGUIRE: I don't know exactly what it is, to be honest with you. It's like discomfort in my lower back. It's been fine actually since I did the 'Spider-Man' movie. So I went to doctors and made sure that people knew what was going on. I said, 'Look, I don't know how well I'll be able to do these stunts.' If at that time, in terms of someone's reaction to it, they went and did things that I'm not fully aware of, and maybe I hear rumors of it or whatever, but at that time, if people do things, that's fine and that's their business, and I take no offense to any of that. You're talking about a however many hundred millions dollar investment in this movie that they have a start date for and the whole crew is hired and they're all moving like a tidal wave to a start this movie. And we're talking about this six weeks prior to that start date. So we were in the eleventh hour at that point. I said that I was concerned and they were also then concerned for me and didn't want to hurt me and didn't want to screw up their movie. So I went in and worked with the stunt guys on two or three different days doing various stunts and testing my back out basically. I was fine. It was fine. My back had actually gotten a lot better over that week, two week period that I was so concerned about it sitting around doing nothing, not really working out or anything. My back got better than it had been in three years, and then all of a sudden there was all this hoopla and my back is better than it's been in three years. Now the press are presuming a lot of things without any real solid information as they do. I went, 'Boy, I'm going to have to answer questions about this for years.'
CAN'T YOU HAVE A STUNTMAN BECAUSE MOST OF THE TIME YOU'RE IN A MASK?
MAGUIRE: Most of the time when he's in a mask, you could use a stuntman, but in this movie, as you see the mask comes off a lot more. There are just certain things that I have to do, and I also want to do because you're bringing life into a character. I like to put enough of myself in there and so does Sam so that you can kind of feel me in there, do you know what I mean? So it's an active movie. It's a very physical movie. It's just what it is. I'm feeling okay now and so I'm not really worried about it.
WERE YOU WORRIED THAT SAM ABOUT EVERY TEN OR TWELVE MINUTES WOULD HAVE YOU SLAMMED INTO A WALL?
MAGUIRE: I loved it. I love how Sam loves Peter Parker and he loves to torture Peter Parker. I loved it. When I saw the film, the agony that Peter is going through, it's just like one thing after the other and nothing works for him and he's just always one step in the wrong direction. I really enjoy that personally.
WAS DR. OCT A GREATER CHALLENGE TO ACT AGAINST THAN THE GREEN GOBLIN?
MAGUIRE: Probably, it was more. Some of it was more physical and more physically damaging to me with Green Goblin just because the fight scene, the big fight scene we had was just a lot of straight punches and kicks and I took a lot of that stuff myself. The mechanical arms present a certain kind of challenge and you've got a bunch of puppeteers around Alfred [Molina]. We're acting in a scene and there's a bunch of dudes running around in weird black cloaks working the arms. So that can be a little strange. So some of it is CGI and so it's my imagination or whatever, but I love Dr. Oct as a villain. I mean, just cinematically he's a better villain. I thought that Willem [Dafoe] did a great job, but Dr. Oct was way cooler than Green Goblin.
WHEN THEY CAME TO YOU WITH THE FIRST MOVIE, WERE YOU SURPRISED BECAUSE YOU WEREN'T THAT BIG OF A STAR?
MAGUIRE: When they came to me with the first movie? I don't know. My perception of myself may different than that. I don't know. I thought that it was an interesting choice. Maybe not the obvious choice. I don't know. Not the obvious choice. I understand that concept, but I thought that it was an interesting choice and ultimately a good choice. Whenever someone chooses me, I think that it's a good choice.
HOW IS YOUR PRODUCING GOING?
MAGUIRE: I'm developing a few things. Nothing that I really want to talk about that right now.
DO YOU HAVE TIME TO DO THAT?
MAGUIRE: I have some time. It's hard. I'm always busy, always doing something.
WHAT'S IMPORTANT TO YOU OUTSIDE OF MOVIES?
MAGUIRE: Water is very important to me, a place to rest. I like to play videogames sometimes.
WHAT DO YOU PLAY?
MAGUIRE: All kinds of stuff.
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