Amazing Spider-Man Interview: Webb and Stone (Mania.com)
By:Robert T. Trate
Date: Monday, July 02, 2012
Sony Pictures gave Mania the great privilege of sitting down and chatting with The Amazing Spider-Man’s director, Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer) and his leading lady, Emma Stone (The Help, Zombieland), about the Spider-Man reboot. Rest assured there are no spoilers here.
Mania: Has the cast and crew been able to feel the excitement for this film grow over the past few weeks?
Marc Webb: There is something liberating, that Spider-Man is so much bigger than any one of us.
Emma Stone: We are like cogs in a really big machine. Which is nice because it does take off the pressure, well maybe not for me.
Webb: It has been really fun. There has been a real sense of enthusiasm and curiosity, which is fun. You have to honor the iconic moments of Spider-Man. It has been fun to put ourselves in... in a new way.
Mania: How do you honor that but still make it your own movie?
Webb: I think there are elements of Spider-Man that are just universal. He shoots webs and soars through the sky and he is a little guy who fights for the little guy. I think that is a really important thing. For me, there were a few things from the Spider-Man comics that were really interesting. There is this story about Peter’s parents and where he came from. I thought it was really interesting to explore the emotional consequence of someone who’s parents left him at a really early age. I like this Peter Parker who has a bit of a chip on his shoulder. In Amazing Spider-Man 8 there is this moment where Flash [Thompson] and Peter are going at each other in a boxing match. You sort of hear what Peter is saying and he gets surly. I like that and their attitude, this punk rock humor and trickster quality. I think this comes from someone who is distrustful of the world sometimes. In order for someone like that to become a hero, I think that is a really interesting story. That was something fun to explore. Of course we have the Gwen Stacey Saga and the Lizard, but I think we tried to find something that was emotionally grounded and very real.
Mania: What were the day to day fun moments of filming The Amazing Spider-Man?
Stone: There were fun elements like swinging and reacting to something that wasn’t there, which was interesting. The greatest take away was realizing that everything is so grounded in reality. It doesn’t matter how big the world is around you or how big the blue screens are in the background. You are doing a scene between two people and it’s human, it’s reality. Which is comforting when you are in something that is seemingly daunting. It’s nice to know that at the end of the day you are just acting as you would be in any circumstance.
Mania: Are you nervous at all about living up to hard core fans who just love Spider-Man?
Stone: Initially, but then you realize there is just so much material when it comes to Spider-Man. I had done The Help right before and that was a book which is kind of the same, but 1 book. This is 50 years of comic book material. There are multiple incarnations of Gwen and I realized I can’t please everybody. You were cast because they are hoping you can bring your character to life the best way that you know how. At the end of the day I hope people are satisfied. I know not everybody will be. That’s one of the trials of being human, I guess (laughs). Hopefully, people will be happy with my incarnation.
Mania: What are you looking to explore in the Peter and Gwen relationship in the film?
Webb: The way I see it is that Peter Parker eventually learns about sacrifice through Gwen Stacy. To learn that lesson we need to adequately feel that strong bond. Something for me in terms of what we set out to do with this relationship between Peter and Gwen was... remember the first time you met a girl in high school? You get to share something with that person that you might not have shared with other people. Well, that creates a bond and an intensity that has a lot of currency. So when you get the opportunity to be open and honest with somebody, for the first time, that is really exhilarating and that is what I think people will be able to identify with. That was fun about the relationship. In terms of Gwen as a character, she is really smart, she is in the weird situation and stuck in a strange position between the men in her life. A great source of drama in the film is a competing idea of what is good. All these people have their hearts in the right place but they execute their plans in different ways. That goes for the Lizard/ Curt Connors, as well. Gwen in particular is stuck between Captain Stacy (her father) and Peter Parker/ Spider-Man who have different ways about finding justice. I think that is something fun to explore in the movie.
Mania: With the relationship being so essential to the story, how did you (both of you) find the chemistry for the characters?
Webb: What I think was great was that Emma brought a level of humor and levity that Andrew [Garfield] really responded to. There was an immediate sense of likeness in their interaction, which attracts beautifully on screen. When you have that, you just wanna spend time with them. There was a lot of spontaneity on set. Had you done a lot of improve (to Emma)?
Webb: They were just firing it off and it was really cool to have at the heart of a really big movie with a lot of visual effects, a lot of pressure and a lot of days. Here we had this wistful spirits they were just really snappy; it was a real joy to watch.
Mania: With 50 years of Spider-Man stories, why explore this origin story again so soon.
Webb: We’re telling a story in a different way. I think it’s really important when you are redefining a character to have the audience experience things they haven’t experienced from the ground up. I want to build the character. I feel that point of view is a really crucial point to the story. You need to build up these emotional building blocks so that you can experience all the other emotions in a very specific way. Which is why at the beginning of the movie we have the story of his parents. With that being pulled from him you want to feel that sense of abandonment as an audience member. That way, you can appropriately identify with Peter. We’re also creating a different universe with different rules and a different tone. We were very careful to honor the iconography of Spider-Man, but we want to tell it in a different way.
Mania: Emma, what was your very first exposure to Spider-Man?
Stone: The Sam Raimi Trilogy. I didn’t read comics growing up. I watched a lot of movies; those were my comic books. My exposure increased with my affiliation with Spider-Man. When I knew I was auditioning for Gwen I looked into the Gwen Stacy story. I was so excited that it was Gwen, because if your only exposure is the Raimi Trilogy you know about Mary Jane. It was like I suddenly had some backstory to the Peter and Mary Jane relationship. He went through something so horribly traumatic in his life and had such a sense of guilt, it really added to the story. I am really excited to be a part of it.
Mania: Why was Andrew Garfield the perfect Spider-Man?
Webb: The perfect Spider-Man! I’ll take that. (pause) We looked at a lot of people, but there was this very specific moment for Andrew and he was eating a cheeseburger. It was a scene that really wasn’t int he movie and one we just used for screen tests. He moved in a way that felt adolescent and he flopped his elbows around. I don’t know what I was initially drawn to, but I kept watching the scene over and over and I thought it was so interesting. I was drawn to the layers of this performance and beyond that he is emphatic about finding authenticity in the emotional reality of a scene. He will not reach for jokes or any kind of emotion that does not feel real enough or authentic. That is an enormous gift. Actors are often asked to do things that are really crazy, like reacting to a Lizard that is nothing more than a tennis ball. He could do that in a way that felt real. Beyond that, he can do emotional depth, heart breaking scenes, he can do romance, and he can do humor. That is a very rare combination to find in an actor. He is an exceptional craftsmen.
The Amazing Spider-Man arrives in theaters July 3rd, 2012.