Then & Now: The Casts of Spider-Man & The Amazing Spider-Man Answer the Same Questions, 10 Years Apart
It seems like only yesterday comic book fans were all excited about the very first Spider-Man movie — Sam Raimi's 2002 take on the webslinging superhero, starring Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst. With Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone stepping in to lead Marc Webb's high school-set The Amazing Spider-Man, a lot of people are wondering if the reboot is any different at all. Time will tell if fans decide Amazing is better or worse, or maybe just the same as Raimi's Spider-Man — but looking back on interviews from 2002's Spider-Man junket, it turned out some of the exact same questions were asked of both sets of directors and stars.
If you’re not sure whether The Amazing Spider-Man is a fresh take on the Marvel superhero tale you've seen before, see if the filmmakers’ answers to the same questions convince you. (Boy, Kirsten Dunst sounded so young back then!)
Sam Raimi: It’s just like if you go to tell a joke that you heard or if you read 40 years of Spider-Man comic books and now it’s your turn to tell the Spider-Man origin story, if you said, “Well, there was this radioactive spider that bit this kid,” if that’s how you chose to tell it, you’d be telling it a very different way than I would tell it. I would have to start with who the kid was, what his problems are and what things meant to him. So, I understood what the transformation meant to him. I think everybody just tells it differently and I didn’t have a good plan for how I was going to tell it. I just told it the way I saw it.
Marc Webb: That’s something from the comics that I’ve always been really a fan of. Humor is a tricky thing because it’s very subjective. The first domino is Peter Parker getting left behind by his parents. I thought to myself, “What does that do to someone? How does that change your view of the world?” To me, it creates a little bit of a level of distrust. There is a sarcasm that comes from that and the quipiness, like in the car thief scene where that attitude comes out. That generates from this chip on his shoulder. It’s a little bit mean and he’s a little bit snarky, but that’s an attitude that we can all understand and relate to.
Both Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield were asked: What was your physical training to bulk up?
Tobey Maguire: I worked very hard. I trained for a little while before I even screen tested, or before I got the role because I knew the screen test was coming up, so I just went on a little bit of a training routine and a diet myself. Then I was cast and worked out for five months, six days a week, anywhere from an hour and a half to four hours a day, a combination of gymnastics, martial arts, yoga, weight lifting, high end cardio like cycling and running, and I had a very specific diet, worked with a nutritionist. I did do some protein shakes, but no weight gain power. I had to eat a lot of food. I’m a vegetarian so I did have to concentrate on eating enough protein and I would get that through soy and nuts and beans and shakes. A lot of the protein powders are made from animal products, so that was kind of tricky for me too.
Andrew Garfield: The training is horrible, like the physical training changed my body because I'm a lazy guy. I'm vain, but I'm not vain enough to care about the gym. And Armando Alarcon was my trainer and he's a fantastic trainer and a terrible person. [Laughs] I have very confused feelings about Armando. Wherever he is, he knows that. He's hiding from me because he will be murdered one day. No, but we had a great time. I was thankful for him. He kept me on an even keel all the way through, and that combined with the whole stunt team was a pretty awesome experience.
Both Kirsten Dunst and Emma Stone were asked: How did it feel to change your hair color?
Kristen Dunst: You know, my hair wasn't completely red. It was only red in the front. So it kinda just looked like punk rockish or something. It was cool, I liked it. It's just like the red streak. People were like, 'Why do you have a red streak in your hair?' I said, 'Well, I'm doing the movie Spider-Man and my hair is too short to dye all my hair so I have wear a wig.' Nothing major.
Emma Stone: I'll tell you. I dyed my hair brown when I was 15 and I was first auditioning in LA. I sounded pretty much like I do now and my personality was pretty much the same, which was a little bit weird for parts for 15-year-olds. So a lot of the time it was during pilot season and I was going out for a lot of Disney Channel and stuff, and I don't know if I exactly fit into the mold. So I dyed my hair brown and a week later I got my first role, which actually worked out so it was kind of cool. And then a couple of years went by and I was cast in Superbad. I was at the camera test for that movie and Martha MacIsaac, who played Becca in the movie, had brown hair. Judd Apatow I just remember walked in and said, “Make it red” to the hair person. So they took me to the hair salon the next day and they dyed my hair red. My mom is a redhead naturally, so I guess I have the skin tone for a redhead. So they made my hair red and I'm telling you, for five years I tried to get it back to blonde but for every role people would be like, “Oh, we want it red. We want it strawberry blonde. We need a shade of red, just something red.” So I stayed red. I love having red hair so I'm sure it'll happen again someday.
Both Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield were asked: Did you have any difficulties with the costume?
Tobey Maguire: In the beginning I did a cast of my entire body, which was not fun because I had to stand there for a couple hours and then the stuff stuck to the hair on my body and they ripped it off. It was extremely painful. The suit was fine and by the time I got to wearing it on the set, I was fine, especially if you’re moving around and doing the action. You don’t even think about it and it would give me a freedom that I didn’t otherwise feel. I mean, if I was moving around the way Spider-Man moves without that suit on, I think I’d probably feel a little silly. If I started crawling across this table with my clothes on, I’d probably be a little embarrassed about it.
Andrew Garfield: You know, I had many issues with that costume. But every actor who plays a superhero is like, 'The costume sucked.” Like, we should just get together to talk about it because it's so inappropriate to talk about in public. It's like, how dare we complain? We're the ones that get to wear it! It's the dream. But, it was so terrible. Let me just put it this way: the fantasy of wearing those costumes is really awesome. Just enjoy that.
Both Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield were asked: How did you identify with Peter Parker?
Tobey Maguire: Quite a bit seeing as though I was playing him. I identified with the character very strongly in some ways reflecting back in my life and in some ways things that are currently going on for me. I think that he basically is dealing with becoming an adult with extreme circumstances that he has superhuman powers and that complicates things or makes him come to decisions quicker. I think he’s very relatable to everybody in that way, that it’s just like becoming an adult basically. With great power comes great responsibility and I think it’s a great power when you realize at some point that you have free will and you’ve got to make choices in how to live your life and what existence is to you and what kind of purpose do you have to your life and I think those are the things that Peter Parker struggles with, so I relate to that.
Andrew Garfield: I think it's important to me that he started with a heroic impulse, without the physical power to do anything with it. That was always how I felt growing up. You know, I felt like an underdog, and I was a skinny kid. Now, I'm not. Obviously, I'm a huge bruiser. [Joking] I got over that problem. Now I just realize that being skinny is okay. I always thought I should have been bigger for some reason because society tells you that. Everyone played rugby and I played rugby and I was good at it, but I got concussed all the time because I was a weakling. So that was something I always identified with for Peter. He always felt stronger on the inside than he did on the outside. And there's nothing better than seeing a skinny guy beat the crap out of big guys. That was important for me.
Both Kirsten Dunst and Emma Stone were asked: What attracted you to the role of Mary Jane/Gwen Stacy?
Kirsten Dunst: I think it was that I could make a superhero for the girls to look up to and she had a good journey of her own. I felt the romance is one of the core emotional drives of Spider-Man during the film. I really felt it was an important part and not just the girlie-girl flying around.
Emma Stone: At first I had met [Producer] Laura Ziskin really earn on, maybe two weeks after it was announced for Mary Jane. I'd always wanted to play Mary Jane. I thought Mary Jane was so great. And then a couple of months went by and they called me again and said, “We'd like you to audition, but the part's Gwen Stacy.” So I looked into the story of Gwen and I just feel in love with Gwen's story because it is so incredibly epic and tragic and incredible in the way that it affect Peter going forward with Mary Jane, who is another character that I love.
Both Sam Raimi and Marc Webb were asked why they cast Tobey Maguire/Andrew Garfield.
Sam Raimi: I was very luck to work with Tobey Maguire. I really think he’s a great Peter Parker because the strength of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s creation has always been that Spider-Man is one of us. I needed somebody that was identifiable to the audience, somebody whose ability to act was invisible, no artifice. Tobey’s smart. He has a high regard for the audience and the camera, and a great respect for the camera. I think he believes, without him saying so, that if he simply believes a thought or is in the moment, that the camera records it and the audience receives it.
Marc Webb: I had known his work from Boy A and Red Riding. If you look at Boy A, yes, there’s a childlike quality in the way he moves and behaves in that film is pretty extraordinary versus in Red Riding, he had this incredible intensity and focus. Very different kind of character. And then when he was auditioning and we were watching him, he had a rare combination. He can do the emotional gravitas that’s required. Peter Parker has a lot of tragedy in his life but he’s also got whimsy. He’s also funny and alive and light and sarcastic. Those are the kind of attributes that I really wanted to explore in the film. So you have that and then he has an incredible physical stamina. When you’re doing a movie that requires this level of physical intensity, we tried to especially at the beginning part of the movie, do a lot of the stunts a more practical way. That requires a very, very significant amount of effort on the part of the actor and for someone to have that kind of maturity and focus is really, really tricky. All abiding in somebody who can convincingly behave like a teenager.
Both Kirsten Dunst and Emma Stone were asked: Do you see yourself as a role model?
Kirsten Dunst: I do in a way. I see how much movies affect people or this or that. I do feel like I have some responsibility. Yeah, I do. I’m going to be myself and I’m not going to change for anybody. It’s worked so far and luckily I’m okay. I haven’t gone off track.
Emma Stone: I will say - and I've thought about this for a long time - I don't in any way, shape or form think that I am any type of a role model or anything like that. But for whatever reason when you're put in a public place, you have to figure out what that purpose is in your life, why that may have happened or what you can possibly do with something like that. There's something that came with getting a Revlon contract, actually. They approached me for the Revlon contract and I thought, “Why in the world would I be approached for a beauty campaign?” because I'd always been the funny girl. And that's not to put myself down, that was always the way that my brain worked. And then I thought about Diane Keaton for L'Oreal and Ellen Degeneres for Cover Girl and how sometimes real beauty gets to be celebrated, like what's inside is what counts. You can still feel beautiful or put makeup on because it makes you feel good and not for anybody else. And that was something that I was like, “Well, if I have an opportunity to possibly reach people or reach young girls in a way that makes them feel like what they are is enough and what the balance of their personality that set them apart and that made them original, if they feel good about that in any way, if that affects one person, then that's a game-changer.” That's something that I'm proud to be helpful in any way of looking real or being a real person. Yeah, I do feel a slight not responsibility but privilege to be able to speak to younger girls and hopefully make them feel like it's okay to be themselves.
Are the two Spideys so different? Did each set of filmmakers and stars come from similar places with their versions of the mythology? Which did you like better?