When Tobey Maguire learned that he was about to become a web-swinging wonder loved the world over by comic book fans of all ages, one thing ran through his mind: get in shape!
"I was getting in shape prior to being cast because I knew I had a screen test coming up," says Maguire. "So I was in fairly good shape at that point. After I was cast, I trained for the role more specifically. For five months, six days a week, anywhere from an hour and a half to four hours a day, I was doing a combination of gymnastics, yoga, martial arts, weight training, high-end cardio, like cycling and running. I had a very specific diet; I worked with a nutritionist. That was to prepare for my specific work that got into wirework and working with the stunt man who was assigned to study the Spidey poses and stuff."
If this sounds like a man driven to prove himself worthy in the eyes of millions of critical fans, you'd be right. Maguire is out to show us all he's got the chops to face down the Green Goblin himself.
"The urge is pretty strong in me for many years so it's not something that could get much stronger," says Maguire. "Once again, hearing people question the idea of my casting in this film did help as far as getting motivated. As I was three and a half months in on my workout and I was a little tired and didn't feel like going to work out, I could think about how I had to do it to prove that I could. A lot of it is proving to myself too. I like to take on a challenge and succeed."
For the role of the freewheeling Spider-Man, Maguire needed to learn how to move like the amazing arachnid.
"I'd talked to [director] Sam [Raimi] about working out and getting in shape, not just aesthetically, but having the stamina and strength to do the things I had to do. The air sense and flexibility there was so much I needed to work on. I talked to Sam at the beginning and said I'm going to take care of it. That's the least of our worries."
Maguire also knows a thing or two about being a high-school outsider. Moving from school to school, Maguire never had much of a chance to fit in, just like a wallflower wall-crawler we know and love.
"I ended up taking my California High School Proficiency Examination," says Maguire. "Ninth grade I was a little bit of an outsider. I was already acting and working a little bit and it was a new school. I was kind of in and out of there. [In] eighth grade, I'd gone to a professional school where there were six students, so I was the sixth most popular kid in school [laughs]. Prior to that, I was a great student in all honors classes, getting basically straight 'A's, a very competitive little kid."
While his experience wasn't nearly the same as Peter Parker's, Maguire does feel he understands the arachnid's alter ego pretty well.
"I felt like I had a sense of that before I even read the comics because I'd read the script and talked to Sam a lot about the character and what it did for him. Going back and reading the comics was very enjoyable for me. I identified with Peter and Spider-Man. [He's] not the most social kid and then he gets in the suit and he feels a different freedom, and he can have his confidence and his humor, but then [he has to] go back to being one of us and dealing with money problems, girl problems. I think he's a great character."
And yes folks, though he had not read a single Spider-Man comic before taking the role, he's rectified that error since then.
"I wasn't a comic book fan when I was a kid," says Maguire. "I don't think I ever read a complete comic book until I was cast in the film. I've since read the first four years of Spider-Man."
Check back tomorrow for part two of our Tobey Maguire profile.