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Monday, 29 April, 2002, 12:18 GMT 13:18 UK
Maguire beefs up for Spider role
Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man
Maguire says being zipped into his suit took getting used to
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By Peter Bowes
BBC News in Hollywood

As the much-anticipated live action version of Spider-Man receives its US première on Monday, its star Tobey Maguire tells Peter Bowes the secrets of playing a comic book superhero with style.

American actor Tobey Maguire says playing the comic book superhero Spider-Man was the biggest challenge of his career.

The 26-year-old rising star, who featured opposite Sir Michael Caine in The Cider House Rules, says he had to commit to a gruelling work-out regime to beef up for the action role.

Tobey Maguire and Sir Michael Caine when they starred in The Cider House Rules
Tobey Maguire (right) gained fame in The Cider House Rules with Sir Michael Caine

He plays Peter Parker, a nerdy student who is turned into the wall-crawling wonder after being bitten by a genetically-modified spider.

Maguire says portraying the character's journey from being a kid into dealing with the first stages of being an adult was a particular challenge.

"There is the extreme circumstance of being bitten by the spider and getting superhuman powers.

"Then there is the aspect of how to communicate and keep the audience with this character while he is masked and you can not see his expression," he explains.

If you had to use the rest room, that would be a little bit of a process

Tobey Maguire

Maguire says the onus was on him to communicate through body language.

Getting into shape for the role propelled the young actor into a regime that even most professional athletes would find challenging.

"I worked out for five months, six days a week anywhere from an hour-and-a-half to four hours a day," he says.

"A combination of gymnastics, martial arts, yoga, weight-lifting, high-end cardio like cycling and running. I had a very specific diet. I became somewhat obsessive about it."


Maguire's almost obsessive approach to getting in shape, initially helped secure the role.

He says the director Sam Raimi and other studio executives, who had doubts that he had the figure for the role, were impressed by the look of his buffed-up body in the superhero's skin-tight costume.

The trademark red and blue outfit did, however, present Maguire with some problems on the set.

A scene from the movie Spider-Man
Getting intimate with Kirsten Dunst had its drawbacks

"Sometimes they would have to sew me into the suit because the zippers would break all the time," he explains.

"I was actually stitched into the thing. I would be harnessed up on a wire and sometimes I would get a little thirsty.

"And it would be like, all right, it is going to be 25 minutes before I can get a drink, at best."

He adds: "If you had to use the rest room, that would be a little bit of a process."


Maguire says he had to endure body casts, computer scans and more than 30 different designs before they found a suit that was perfect.

During the making of the film, four of the suits were stolen from the set.

I was hanging upside down, it was five in the morning roughly, there was rain pouring up or down my nose

Tobey Maguire on playing a scene from Spider-Man

However, filming was not delayed because the designers had created a large collection of costumes.

The action scenes in the movie where Spider-Man is discovering his powers were the most hair-raising to film, says Maguire.

Yet, he admits he enjoyed the thrill of the shoot.

"I am a fairly extreme person," he says.

"Some of it was fun and some of it was work. They had all kinds of rigs.

"It was mostly wires and harnesses. While debris was falling and all this action was going on I felt safe because we had good people working on the film."

Love scenes

In fact, Maguire says making the movie helped him fulfil a childhood fantasy.

"When I was a kid I used to get into fake fights and roll down flights of stairs and it felt like I wanted to be a stunt man."

Maguire also admits to getting a kick out of his scenes with co-star Kirsten Dunst.

He says the scene in which they kiss was particularly "interesting and challenging".

A scene from Spider-Man
Spider-Man allowed Maguire to fulfil his early ambition to be a stunt man

"I was hanging upside down, it was five in the morning roughly, there was rain pouring up or down my nose.

"I couldn't breath and I was gasping for breath out of the corner of Kirsten's mouth - poor girl I was giving her mouth to mouth rather than kissing her.

"But in the midst of that I was sneaking some pleasure out of it."


When the film opens in the US in May, Maguire says he plans to sneak into cinemas to "feel the energy and see people's reaction".

He adds: "I think that's one of the great things about movies.

"This is one of those films that is truly an event. I remember when I went to see The Fugitive on opening night and The Lord of the Rings on opening night.

"You go to those films and the energy of the audience is just unbelievable - people talking to the screen, people yelling and cheering - it's a lot of fun to be in the audience."

Spider-Man opens in the US on 3 May and in the UK on 14 June.

See also:

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Spider-Man escapes lawyers web
31 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Spider spins web for Maguire
01 Mar 00 | Entertainment
Superheroes serenade Stan Lee
06 Nov 98 | Americas
Batman creator dies at 83
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