Sam Raimi, Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Director Part One (

By:Arnold T. Blumberg
Date: Tuesday, April 30, 2002

Beginning an in-depth chat with SPIDER-MAN director Sam Raimi, CINESCAPE cuts directly to the chase and asks the question already burning in the minds of the web-slinger's legions of fans: What's going on with SPIDER-MAN 2?

"Sony has asked me to direct number two, and I've signed on to do it, but I'm not technically working on it yet," says Raimi. "[Executive producer] Avi Arad has put a page of ideas in front of me, but I honestly haven't read it through. I just feel scared again. I hope we can come up with a good story that is worthy of the fans' love for the character."

Tobey Maguire stars in Sam Raimi's SPIDER-MAN

If advance buzz is any indication, the first SPIDER-MAN may well prove itself quite worthy indeed. While Raimi worries about the reaction of fans, he too is a Spider-fan from way back, so he should know a thing or two about how to make a movie that captures the spirit of this worldwide icon. That said, his basic take on the character might surprise some.

"For me, Spider-Man doesn't even exist it's always Peter Parker," says Raimi. "I always try to direct the scenes like Peter Parker is in the scene, just with more freedom since he's wearing a mask and losing his sense of identity just a bit. That's what is so different in Stan Lee and Steve Ditko's creation of Spider-Man, in my opinion. They had the intelligence and the creativity to make a superhero that was a human being first and foremost. Superman only pretends to be that bumbling Clark Kent Clark Kent doesn't even exist.

"I just directed everything I had toward [making] Peter Parker a real character not some invincible icon, but a flawed human being wearing this pretty outfit, doing the best that he can," adds Raimi. "And once he does the right thing, let him worry if he did the right thing or not, because Superman is never caught awake in bed, wondering, 'Should I have done something different?' That's why I like Spider-Man. He's one of us. He questions the morality of his actions."

Sam Raimi directs Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst in SPIDER-MAN

The choice of indie film darling Tobey Maguire (THE CIDER HOUSE RULES) for the lead role may have been a bit controversial, but Maguire threw himself into training to prove naysayers wrong. Raimi was determined that his star would look the part of a superhero.

"We got him a trainer to keep him slim but make him tight," says Raimi. "We didn't want a muscle man. I had my stunt coordinator work with him on a daily basis on wire training to get familiar with these harnesses that he'd be flying in quite a bit. We got him a dance trainer to work on his rhythm and movement, because Spider-Man is really a dancer of the skies. I wanted to make him move gracefully so that I could meet the audience's expectations of how Spider-Man should move. I think we all know from looking at these still pictures of him, from 40 years in the comics, that he has great flexibility and agility and grace. So Tobey tried to learn this as much as a human being can learn such a thing in the six months that he had to prepare for it."

Raimi's choice was governed by the usual factors and that certain indefinable spark that distinguishes the right actor for the right role.

Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, SPIDER-MAN

"I had been interviewing a lot of different actors for the role of Peter Parker," says Raimi. "I thought [Maguire] was very powerful in CIDER HOUSE RULES, and it looked like he could play 17 years old. I then met with Tobey and he seemed very personable and we could communicate very well. This is somebody who the audiences absolutely identify with and they were going to take this journey of becoming a hero through him. I feel like he's not acting when I watch his performance. And of course he's just faking it, but I don't detect the artifice. Tobey has a very unique ability to hide within his character, and when he wants his charisma to come out, it can come out.

Be sure to check back for part two of CINESCAPE's profile on SPIDER-MAN director Sam Raimi, which chronicles the director's decisions involving Spidey's nemesis, the Green Goblin, and the casting of actress Kirsten Dunst as Peter's lady love, Mary Jane Watson.