Tobey Maguire talks about playing Peter Parker, making Spider-Man 4, and the film he is developing titled Tokyo Suckerpunch

Tobey Maguire has, thus far, given Spider-Man fans the cinematic Peter Parker they always wanted. Now in Spider-Man 3, Maguire shows us the dark side of the character he helped bring to life.

In Spider-Man 3, Peter Parker has finally managed to strike a balance between his devotion to M.J. and his duties as a superhero. But there is a storm brewing on the horizon. As Spider-Man basks in the public's adulation for his accomplishments and he is pursued by Gwen Stacy (Bryce Dallas Howard), who rivals M.J. for his affections, Peter becomes overconfident and starts to neglect the people who care about him most. His newfound self-assuredness is jeopardized when he faces the battle of his life against two of the most feared villains ever (Thomas Haden Church, Topher Grace), whose unparalleled power and thirst for retribution threaten Peter and everyone he loves.

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When you were younger did you ever think you would have an action figure of you? And what does that mean to you?

Tobey Maguire: I didn't think so and not much.

How much involvement did you have in the arc of your character for this movie?

Tobey Maguire: Well, the basic storyline was laid out. For me it had to do with 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.

Some of the funniest moments are when your character is going through his dark period. When he's walking down the street... how much of that was improv? How much of it was choreographed?

Tobey Maguire: I had a choreographer. I had a couple of people I worked with... for the walk, basically, the general idea of it was choreographed and then we riffed from there. Sam would say, "Throw this out! Do this!" Then I would throw in some thoughts and ideas and... we kinda messed around with it.

What would it take to get you on board for a fourth film?

Tobey Maguire: For me there'd 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.

So the door is open for a fourth film?

Tobey Maguire: Yeah, there's no absolutes for me. You never know what happens, I guess.

According to the producers, they say that in the last 10 days the door as opened more to the idea of another film.

Tobey Maguire: The studio will make more Spider-Man movies; one way or the other. You never know until you're there. It's hard to say what people's mind-frames are like. Today might be one thing... there's a lot that has to happen. Warner Bros. with Superman and Batman, they can recast, they can bring in new people, they can reconceive things and 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.

What has been the biggest surprise for you out of this whole experience?

Tobey Maguire: I guess there are things that I didn't expect. I'm kind of like an easy going person and I kind of take everything in stride. I've definitely had some moments where I think things are super cool and I've had a lot of fun with it. To me it all is what is and you just kind of accept things and keep moving forward. I don't take a lot of time to reflect on this stuff although I am really grateful and appreciative.

Do you see a duality between how you take celebrity and how your character takes it?

Tobey Maguire: Peter reacts very differently than I do. He is much more reflective about it and kind of soaks it in in a different way. He loves it. He's bathing in it, he's swimming in it. 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 the scenes we're doing with Kirsten where Peter Parker's trying to give her advice. It's just hilarious to me. It's funny because nobody really laughs at those scenes and I'm just sitting there cracking up. I just find them so funny.

What's it like being in these action films like Spider-Man 3 that just seem to get bigger and bigger?

Tobey Maguire: It's a lot of work. The results are great. That's kinda like a means to the end. That's what helps sometimes with staying motivated through that stuff, because you have so much downtime. Then you have to go and get yourself to the height of an action sequence or something and its maybe one to six seconds of film. It takes a month for us to shoot a major action sequence, and then we have to come back and shoot some more later. There's more elements that we're putting together to create it. In terms of upping the ante and raising the bar, that's more the people who are conceiving them.

Sam has a great visual instinct and he does it with humor, the camera and he has great style for that stuff. That's largely in his hands. I try and contribute and be supportive and participate in helping him as much as possible. The other thing I think is interesting about action sequences is we try and give them character. Where they have meaning, it's not like you're taking a break from the story to go watch an action sequence.

Can you talk about Tokyo Suckerpunch?

Tobey Maguire: It's something I'm developing at my production company. I'm developing it with Doug Wick and Lucy Fisher's production company. Ed Solomon's writing the screenplay right now. It's based on this book by Isaac Adamson called Tokyo Suckerpunch. It's about this character Billy Chaka who lives in Cleveland and he does this Manga-thing, that he uses a heightened version of himself, Billy Chaka, in this thing. It really is a fantasy of who he is. Really, he's this small town kid in Cleveland. He has this cult following and I think he thinks he's more worldly than he is. They've made a movie out of the Billy Chaka character and he has to go to Japan to be a part of the thing. Reluctantly, he doesn't really want to go and he ends up getting involved in a Billy Chaka-type of adventure in Tokyo.

Will you star in that?

Tobey Maguire: I'm developing it with that idea, yes.

If they ever did a superhero team up film, lets say your character was just a bit player, would you consider doing that?

Tobey Maguire: I don't know. It depends, I guess. It depends on what the movie was, who the filmmaker was. That would be probably pretty complicated in terms of getting different studios to figure out, as they have the rights to certain characters, it would probably be pretty hard to figure out. Lets just say that in the fantasy world it was all figured out, it depends. If there was a filmmaker I loved and I could go in and it would be more of a fun little thing, where I went and worked for a couple of days? I probably wouldn't go and work for several months in an ensemble-type of thing, no. You never know 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? This is kind of like a fun little moment with a director that I loved, in a movie that I thought was gonna be great? Yeah, maybe I would consider that.

What was it like wearing the black Spider-Man suit?

Tobey Maguire: It was fun. Getting to have a different suit, sure. Also what it represented and how it allowed us to explore new ground for Peter Parker.

How about the dance sequence in the club?

Tobey Maguire: It was fun. It was interesting and fun doing that and I thought really helped define where he was at.

Did you take home any souvenirs from this movie?

Tobey Maguire: I don't really take home souvenirs. I'm not a big stuff guy. I'm not into stuff like that. To have an action figure it's kind of weird and interesting. It's fun in a way, the first time you see it, it's like, "Oh wow, there's an action figure." To me stuff is almost like a burden.

Is there something you could see yourself doing outside of acting?

Tobey Maguire: I'm not sure. I'm interested in a lot of things. I don't know what.

What did you think of having two villains in this movie instead of just the one?

Tobey Maguire: What I think is really impressive is how Sam wove all the stories together and didn't make it feel disjointed. Like there was a bunch of separate storylines. It really came together under common themes. 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.

What was your favorite part of doing Spider-Man 3?

Tobey Maguire: I probably had the most fun doing the darker side of Peter. Just because it was different and fun and kind of unexpected, I feel, for the character.

What were the challenges in making the Spider-Man movies? The fans expectations...?

Tobey Maguire: I don't really feel pressure in that way. We definitely are all working hard trying to make the best movie we can make. I have those kind of standards for myself no matter what I'm doing. I feel like Avi Arad is very much involved, Sam Raimi, obviously. They're much more tapped into what's appropriate for the Spider-Man fans, the comic book fans, that's more their responsibility. For me, I show up and just try and make the best movie I can make. Not to say I'm unaware of that but I'll pass the buck over to them on that one.

It's gotta be an appropriate movie for what it is. It's a big budget, action, adventure, comic book movie you have to deliver in all the ways you're supposed to deliver. It's gotta be a thrill-ride, you gotta raise the bar, it's gotta be fun and entertaining. We want it to be funny and emotional, 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.

What do you think you've learned about yourself from the Spider-Man movies?

Tobey Maguire: I'm not quite sure what I've learned. I know I've learned a lot. It's been six years and I feel like I'm 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 the cast and especially with Sam. I really love working with Sam. It's such a pleasure, we have so much fun together, he's so collaborative. I don't feel like it's a nightmare that I'm up at 5 or 6 in the morning. It's like, "Okay, cool." I'm groggy, I've gotta jump in the shower but I'm excited to go off to work.

Spider-Man 3 swings into conventional theaters and IMAX on May 4 from Columbia Pictures.

Evan Jacobs