Get caught in the web of Spider-Man
June 14, 2002
The film has already smashed box-office records across the pond, beating even the latest Star Wars epic into second place.
But leading man and lady Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst seemed pleasantly unfazed by their new star status when I met them in London after the British premiere.
Tobey plays shy student Peter Parker who gets a whole new personality after being bitten by a spider and Kirsten is his dream girl who he gets to rescue from the clutches of Spider-Man’s arch-enemy the Green Goblin.
In fact Tobey says he saw Peter and his spidery alter ego as being two sides of the same character.
He said: “I never read comic books so I was a little sceptical about doing the film which I thought would be a typical Hollywood product in which I would have little input creatively.
“But it turned out to be a great experience because the director Sam Raimi was so generous and encouraging and helped me to fill out the details of the character”.
Tobey added: “Unlike Superman, who even as Clark Kent is still acting a part, Peter really grows as a human being in the course of the picture.”
He worked out for five months before shooting started and his regime included yoga, gymnastics, martial arts, wire-work and ‘a scientific diet’.
In real life Tobey feels quite comfortable with spiders – “I give them the run of the house,” he laughed.
Kirsten thinks that her character Mary Jane Watson is a real role model for girls.
She explained: “She has her own journey to go on in the movie and doesn’t just wait around for Spider-man to help her.”
Both Tobey and Kirsten have earned respect for their performances in previous films but they are adamant that their new high profile from the success of Spider-Man hasn’t changed their long-term aims.
Tobey said: “I will still do low-budget pictures if the scripts appeal to me.”
And Kirsten added: “Being in Spider-man will actually help us to get smaller films off the ground.”
They are both scheduled for the Spider-Man sequel, which is already in the works although we probably won’t see it until 2004.
But producer Laura Ziskin would not speculate on whether the character would become a long-term franchise.
She said: “We will take it one film at a time because we are only interested in having good stories to tell – and the audience will make it clear when they have had enough of Spider-Man.”
The high-leaping web-spinner made his Marvel Comics’ debut 40 years ago but his movie incarnation has been delayed for years because of legal problems.
But executive producer Avi Arad, who heads the company which brings Marvel characters to the screen, said it had actually been an advantage to wait until the technology could create a convincing screen Spider-Man.
The character’s octogenarian creator Stan Lee, who has a producing credit on the film, says he thinks the reason for Spider-Man’s universal appeal is his completely enclosed costume – “so everyone can put their own features on him”.