After making a splash with the indie hit (500) Days of Summer, Marc Webb took over the reboot of The Amazing Spider-Man and its follow-up. Both films star what even the harshest critics describe as ideal casting: Emma Stone as Gwen Stacey and Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker. The trio sat down for a lively and very energetic press conference for the film, demonstrating their terrific working chemistry and revealing how the second Amazing made it to screen.
Question: Emma, what’s it like to play a female scientist and to find a character who’s so strong, yet without any super powers?
Emma Stone: It was wonderful. I only have superlatives for it. I love Gwen Stacey so much, and it was so nice to modernize the character from the comic books, and bring her into the woman that she is in this movie. My aunt is a scientist, a brilliant scientist, and so I got to know that aspect of my family a little bit. It was really an honor to play such an important and iconic character.
Q: What does your aunt do?
ES: She works on vaccines. She worked on the chicken pox vaccine; she got the chicken pox vaccine to America. And she’s working on a MRSA vaccine now. She’s pretty bad-ass.
Q: Yeah, just drop the mike and walk away.
ES: She’s really incredible.
Q: Andrew, how closely did you identify with the character? The producers said that you basically were Peter Parker for all intents and purposes.
Andrew Garfield: That’s very kind of them to say so. I’ve felt a kinship to the character since I was about three. I think the beauty of the character is that he’s all of us. He’s an everyman, he’s very ordinary as Peter Parker, and he’s struggling with the same things we all struggle with. His love life. The quest for his own individuality. Having to make ends meet, moneywise. He’s definitely a working class kid. And then he receives this extraordinary gift, which I see as a metaphor for the gifts we all receive when we come into this world. Acting, journalism, painting, medicine, whatever it is we each have.
Q: Marc, how hard is it to keep secrets on a movie like this? And incidentally, anything you say can and will be used against you.
ES: There are no Miranda rights on the Internet.
Marc Webb: It’s tricky. We have to be very careful. This time, I think our crew did a good job keeping a lot of the secrets. There’s so much interest and so much enthusiasm for the character, and if we weren’t making the movie we’d probably be the same way. We’re careful to shoot certain specific scenes on stages and protect the evolutions of the characters as we’re shooting. Then, of course, the marketing department is trying to reveal those things as carefully as they can. But it’s tricky. We wanted to shoot in New York and capture the tone of New York, which is so important for this character. That means getting out there and integrating with the world around you, and that invites a certain amount of scrutiny. It’s tricky. But ultimately, the most important thing for us is to make the best movie possible. And that’s always the priority.
Q: How much do you leave open for improvisation? That off-the-cuff dialogue, and the scenes with Spidey interacting with the New Yorkers?
AG: We had a great script and very collaborative writers, so there was a lot that was very set before we got to working. There was no need to add anything. But Marc sets up an atmosphere where you have freedom to play, and see what works. He gives us time to make mistakes and fail, and occasionally, what will come out of that is something unexpected. My favorite parts of the film are Spidey interacting with these sad, troubled souls who need a little hope. That’s what sets him apart from other superheroes. Yes, he does have to save the city, but he’s also going to walk a bullied kid home. He’s going to walk an old lady across the street. He’s going to save a cat from a tree. Those are the working class hero moments that I think we all want to be.
Q: How would you say these movies set themselves apart from Sam Raimi’s trilogy?
MW: Well first and foremost, we’re covering the Gwen Stacey saga. The storyline in the comics is very specific, and it hasn’t been rendered before. That was intended from the get-go. Thematically, there are ideas and notions that hadn’t been explored before. Sam’s work was great and we probably couldn’t have done what we’re doing without him leading the way. Luckily, Spider-Man has such a rich mythology, I don’t think they’re ever going to run out of ideas for great films.
Q: Is there an advantage to having the continuity of the same director for both movies?
ES: It’s just comfortable. You go to these far-flung locations, and you meet these people, and it’s like summer camp and you become incredibly close to them. Then you’re ripped away, and everyone goes back to their families, and you never see the person again after having had such an intimate experience. It’s such a strange job because you’re being asked to be so vulnerable in front of people who you value and trust, and then you lose them as soon as the shoot’s over. This feels more like a family. We’ve been working on these two movies for like a year combined, and there’s been three or four years between that time, so it’s very close. And the new folks joined us really quickly. I think Andrew and Jamie [Foxx] really tore it up together. It was a real bromance there.
AG: Jamie’s a great actor, but he’s also a real fan of other people. He has a really soft heart down there, and he really cares a lot about other people.
Q: The Rhino was done a little differently than he is in the comics. Will any other Sinister Six characters have changes made like that?
MW: We’ll see. We’re still developing those costumes, and Drew Goddard – who I think is working in the Sinister Six as we speak – will have the answers to those questions. But we always try to stay true to the spirit of the characters, no matter what they may look like.