Though it is evident that Tobey Maguire does not exactly relish publicity, the still neatly attired and often introspective star of the franchise that launched him, was both quiet and amusing, as he greeted the press for the umpteenth time on his whirlwind tour spreading the news that Spider-Man 3 may not necessarily be the end of the actor’s involvement with the franchise. He talked to Paul Fischer.
Question: Did you ever think that you were going to be an action figure when you were growing up? What does it mean to you?
Maguire: Uh, I didn’t think so, and not much.
Question: When you were getting ready to do this movie it’s been said that Sam was particularly collaborative in getting you guys involved pretty early on as to how the characters were going to be arced in this movie?
Question: How much involvement did you have in that?
Maguire: Well, the basic storyline was laid out and for me it had to do with, you know, I’d like to see him go further in this direction, I’m not interested in that stuff as much. Kind of getting into the specifics of it and adjusting the tone. But the basic story was there.
Question: The dark side of you in this movie, and the funniest moment in this movie, are the swaggering down the street and seeing all the girls and getting a reaction. How much of that was improve-ed, and how much of that was your involvement?
Maguire: Uh, you gave me like a multiple choice, it was like the same choice. Was it A or A? I’m like, it was A. Uh–
Question: I mean how much of it was scripted and how much of it was you?
Maguire: Yeah, no, I get it, I get it. You know, it’s hard, I do all these interviews and pretty soon I just answer how people ask. I’m not trying to think for myself anymore. but it was, I had a choreographer, or I had a couple of people I worked with for the walk. Basically the general idea of it was choreographed and then, you know, we riffed from there, and Sam would say throw this out, do this, and then I would throw in some thoughts and ideas and you know, just kind of messed around with it.
Question: I apologize for asking this question, because I know everybody asks it, about the 4th film.
Question: I talked with Sam about it and he said he wouldn’t do it unless you were onboard. I asked Sam what it would take to get him onboard, and now I’m going to ask you what it would take for you?
Maguire: What did Sam say it would take to get him onboard?
Question: He said he would have to see a deficit in the character of Peter Parker that still needed to be addressed.
Maguire: That’s a good answer. Mine won’t be as interesting or as well thought, but, for me there would have to be a great screenplay, a great story, something really worth telling. Some new territory for us to go on with Peter Parker. Sam would have to be involved, the right cast would have to be in place, and then I would consider it.
Question: At one point you said that the third one would probably be your last one. Are you now, so the door is just a little bit more ajar than before?
Maguire: Yeah, I mean, I just, there’s no absolutes for me, so you never know what happens, I guess.
Question: The producers said during this junket that in the last ten days everything is a little bit wider open in that people have changed their minds a little bit. Are they just being producers or is that true?
Maguire: Well, I mean, they, the studio will make more Spiderman movies one way or another and you know, you never know until you’re there, so it’s hard to say what people’s mind frames are. Today it might be one thing–there’s a lot that has to happen, and like I said, they’ll figure out how to make them one way or another. You know, Warner Brothers with Superman and Batman, it’s like, they can recast, they can bring in new people and they can reconceive things and come at it from, have a different take. Who knows? Whether we continue this story with this cast of people or not, we’ll see, and how open people are, I don’t really know. You don’t know until there’s something in front of you.
Question: Throughout this process, what has been the biggest surprise to you in terms of your own life and work if there are any?
Maguire: I mean, I guess there are things that I didn’t expect. I’m not, I’m kind of like an easy going person and take everything in stride, you know, so things that are like, I’ve definitely had some moments where I think things are super cool and I’ve had a lot of fun with it, but to me it all is what it is, and I just kind of accept things and keep moving forward. I don’t really take a lot of time to reflect on this stuff, although I am really grateful and appreciative of–
Question: Could you identify then with Peter’s view of celebrity? Because there’s an interesting duality there.
Maguire: I mean, Peter reacts very differently than I do. He is much more reflective about it and kind of soaking it in a different way. He loves it, he bathes in it, he’s swimming in it, he’s like oh, they love me. He just loves it, and it gets to his head and he’s becoming kind of arrogant and believes his own hype. He’s got a real self-importance and I love it, the scenes we’re doing with Kirsten where I’m like, where Peter Parker’s trying to give her advice, it’s just hilarious to me. And you know, it’s funny, because nobody really laughs at those scenes, but I’m just sitting there cracking up. I just find them so funny. But, so, our experiences are different. I understand what you’re saying, but we just react differently.
Question: What are the challenges of being in these major action set pieces and how do you have to get ready? They keep on getting bigger and bigger.
Maguire: Yeah, they do.
Question: Just as an actor, you’re on these for many months.
Maguire: Yeah. It’s a lot of work. I mean, it’s cool, the results are great and you know, that’s kind of like it’s the means to the end, and that’s what helps sometimes with you know, staying motivated through that stuff, because you have so much down time and then you’ve got to go and get yourself to the height of an action sequence, and you shoot something and it’s maybe one to six seconds of film, and it takes months, well, you know, probably like a month for us to shoot a major action sequence. And then we would have to come back and shoot some more later, and there’s different elements we’re putting together to create it. And you know, it’s, in terms of just uping the ante and raising the bar, that’s more the people who are conceiving them. So Sam, who I think is a great visualist and does it with humor and is really great with the camera and has a great style with that stuff, that’s largely in his hands. I try to contribute and be supportive and participate in helping them as much as possible. And I think the other thing that’s interesting about our action sequences is that we try to give them character, where they have meaning, you know. It’s not like you’re taking a break from the story to go watch an action sequence.
Question: What challenges are there for you as an actor outside of this franchise? What are you looking for that you find challenging?
Maguire: Uh, I want to do everything. You know, I love movies, and I want to work in every genre and I just want to work with great filmmakers that I respect and admire. As an actor, I just want to do everything. I do want to challenge myself and stretch myself and, I don’t really have any set ideas about what I want to do.
Question: What are you doing now?
Maguire: Right now I’m promoting Spiderman 3.
Question: Are you signed on for anything else?
Question: Have you shot anything since that perhaps hasn’t come out?
Maguire: I wasn’t being a smart ass, I’m really just promoting Spiderman 3 right now.
Question: Tokyo Sucker Punch. What’s the story with that?
Maguire: It’s something I’m developing in my production company.
Question: That’s a really interesting title, can you–
Maguire: It’s a great title. Um, it’s something I’m developing. Um, with Doug Wick and Lucy Fisher’s company, and Ed Solomon’s writing the screenplay right now. It’s based on this book by Isaac Sin, called Tokyo Sucker Punch, and it’s the character, Billy Chaka, who lives in Cleveland and he does this kind of manga thing, that he, that has, he uses his own character, or a heightened version of himself, Billy Chaka, in this thing, and it’s really a fantasy of who he is. And really he’s this small town kid in Cleveland who thinks he’s like, you know, he does have like a cult following and I think he thinks he’s more worldly than he is, and he has to go to Japan for–they’ve made a movie out of the Billy Chaka character, so he goes to Japan to like, you know, go be part of the thing, and, you know, reluctantly. He doesn’t really want to go. And he ends up getting involved in a Billy Chaka type of adventure in Tokyo. It’s really cool and I’m excited about it, so, we’ll see. We’re developing it right now.
Question: You would star in it?
Maguire: I’m developing it for, with that idea, yeah.
Question: When you were in Tokyo promoting the film, did you do any sightseeing for the film?
Maguire: Any Billy Chaka location scouting? Any Tokyo Sucker Punch research? You know, I didn’t have time.
Question: If they were to ever make a superhero team up film for Spiderman 4, would you consider being a bit player, say Spiderman in an Avengers type movie?
Maguire: I don’t know. It depends, I guess. It depends on what the movie was or who the filmmaker was, I mean, that would probably be pretty complicated in terms of just getting different studios to figure out with, as they have the rights to those certain characters, it would probably be pretty hard to figure out. But let’s just say in the fantasy world that it was all figured out, it depends. If there was a filmmaker I loved and my part, you know, I could go in and it would be more of a fun little thing where I worked for a couple of days, I wouldn’t–I probably wouldn’t go and work for several months and be in an ensemble type of thing, no. I mean, you never no, but I really doubt it. Would I walk through a scene and have a little conversation as Peter Parker with a little red suit showing that was just a fun little moment with a director that I loved in a movie that I thought would be great? Yeah, maybe I would consider that.
Question: After wearing the red tights for two movies, was it nice getting to switch to the black for this?
Maguire: It was fun, I mean fun just to have a different suit, sure, and also just what it represented and you know, how it allowed us to explore new grounds for Peter Parker.
Question: And the dance sequence?
Maguire: It was fun. We had fun doing that. It was interesting and fun and I thought really helped define where he was at.
Question: Do you take home any souvenirs when you’re doing the movies, and if so what did you take from this one?
Maguire: I don’t really take home souvenirs. I’m not a big stuff guy. Which is really an answer to the first question about action figures. I’m just not into stuff like that. To have an action figure, it’s kind of weird and interesting, and fun in a way, like the first time you see it, you go wow, there’s an action figure. But as I said, to me stuff is almost like a burden. It’s just like–
Question: Isn’t your fiancée’s jewelry in the film?
Maguire: Yeah, Kirsten’s, MJ’s heart-shaped locket that she wears in the film is designed by Jen, my fiancée. Yeah.
Question: What happened to that?
Maguire: I don’t know.
Question: James Franco told me he’s going off to study and do things outside of acting. If you were to stop acting, is there anything else you have a burning desire to do, maybe haven’t had time to do?
Maguire: Well, first of all I doubt James is going to stop acting.
Question: No, no, he’s going to school, he’s going to study in London.
Maguire: Oh, he’s, he was going to school while shooting Spiderman. He was doing like multiple movies, going to school. He’s a real, God, he’s always got a lot on his plate. What would I do outside of acting? Is that the question? Uh, I’m not sure. I’m interested in a lot of things, but I don’t know what.
Question: Do you see yourself taking some time off?
Maguire: I’d like to get back to work fairly soon. It’s nice to have some time just at home with my family, but I love working, and I’d love to find something I want to do.
Question: Did you like the challenges of this film as opposed to the previous two?
Maguire: Yeah. and the thing I felt is really impressive is how Sam really wove all the stories together and didn’t make it feel disjointed like it was a bunch of separate storylines, but it really came together under common themes. So I was, I feel like that was the greatest challenge with that, which wasn’t really my job, but that’s what I was most impressed with regarding that.
Question: Did you have any challenges in the first one, second one, third one, from the expectations of the fans while making it? Was it helpful on the set?
Maguire: I don’t really feel pressure in that way. I’m, we definitely are all working hard, trying to make the best movie we can make, and I have those kind of standards for myself no matter what I’m doing. You know, and I feel like Avi Arad is very much involved, and Sam Raimi is obviously helming the ship, so they’re much more tapped into what’s appropriate for the Spiderman fans, the comic book fans. That’s more their responsibility, and for me I just show up and try to make the best movie I can make. I mean, not to say that I’m not aware of that, but I’m just saying I’ll pass the buck over to them on that one.
Question: They obviously know what the fans are saying–Sam feels a bit of pressure, obviously, to make that balance between the needs of the fans and the needs of himself as filmmaker.
Maguire: Well, I want it to be, it’s got to be an appropriate movie for what it is. It’s a big budget action adventure comic book movie, so you’ve got to deliver in all the ways that you’re supposed to deliver. It’s got to be a thrill ride, you’ve got to raise the bar, it’s got to be fun and entertaining, we want it to be funny and emotional and you know, so I’m aware of everything I’m trying to do. I’m not thinking about anybody who’s sitting there waiting for the movie while I’m on set day to day. I’m just trying to make the best movie I can.
Question: Spiderman was your first blockbuster, like in that genre. What have you learned from his whole experience as an actor?
Maguire: I’m not quite sure what I’ve learned, but I know I’ve learned a lot. It’s been six years and I feel like I’m just more at ease in general, working, which is great. One of the things I’ve really gained is a great relationship with a lot of the crew and cast but especially with Sam. I really love working with Sam, it’s such a pleasure, we have so much fun together, he’s so collaborative, he’s fun, it’s funny, really, I go to set and I’m having a blast. Like I wake up in the morning and it’s not like a nightmare that I’m up at 5:30, 6 in the morning, it’s like okay cool. I’m groggy, I’ve got to jump in the shower, but I’m excited to go off to work.