Tobey Maguire’s legacy as Spider-man is a complicated web. His rise, fall, and resurgence have all been publicly documented and the story is marred by some ugly middle chapters before a beautiful career resurgence.
But that journey almost never started as the web-slinger had trouble getting off the ground. In an appearance on Howard Stern’s radio show back in 2002, Maguire detailed the dedication it took to play Spider-man. First, Tobey discussed how he packed on muscle for the role of the super arachnid.
“I worked out for five months, six days per week up to four hours per day…I have a nutritionist and I was eating four to six meals per day. Lots of protein.”
But Tobey wasn’t guaranteed the role. While director Sam Raimi wanted Maquire to play Spider-man from the start, Tobey’s resume wasn’t enough for the bigwigs over at Sony. Stern hinted at a rumor that Raimi filmed extra footage to help convince the studio executives that Tobey was the man for the job but the young actor revealed that the true story was a bit more complicated.
“First we did an audition on videotape in a little room and they got it. It took them a couple of weeks to see it–”
“Were you insulted?” Hern interrupted on his behalf.
Tobey replied that his ego was rubbed the wrong way before continuing the story. He had already appeared in movies like The Cider House Rules, Wonder Boys, and Pleasantville, so the auditions felt a bit redundant. The executives clarified that they already knew he could act but wanted to be sure the rising star could reflect Spider-man’s intense physicality. So Raimi and Tobey filmed an action scene for the second audition tape.
Tobey wanted to show off his physique so he took off the blue leotard to reveal his hard-earned physique below. The executives must have been impressed because Maguire ultimately got the part. The rest is history as Spider-man went on to be one of the biggest blockbusters of all time and Tobey remains the definitive Peter Parker.
The actor has recently enjoyed a comeback as he starred in Spider-man: No Way Home (2021) alongside fellow Spidermen Tom Holland and Andrew Garfield. His place in the hearts of millions was confirmed as his sudden appearance sent audiences into an uproar. Even his cringe-worthy portrayal in Spider-man 3 has turned into a positive in the form of Bully Maguire, an internet meme sensation.
It’s scary to think that a few extra donuts might have prevented us from having the legendary Spider-man film but luckily things played out the way they did. Today, Tobey seems to live a more humbled lifestyle befitting a superhero and hopefully he remembers that with great power comes great responsibility.