Director Marc Webb Interview For ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ – Talks Andrew Garfield, 3D, The Lizard….
One of the world’s most popular characters is back on the big screen as a new chapter in the Spider-Man legacy is revealed in ‘The Amazing Spider-Man.’ Focusing on an untold story that tells a different side of the Peter Parker story, the film stars Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Campbell Scott, Irrfan Khan, with Martin Sheen and Sally Field. The film is directed by Marc Webb from a screenplay written by James Vanderbilt, based on the Marvel Comic Book by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. ’The Amazing Spider-Man’ is the story of Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield), an outcast high schooler who was abandoned by his parents as a boy, leaving him to be raised by his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field). Like most teenagers, Peter is trying to figure out who he is and how he got to be the person he is today. Peter is also finding his way with his first high school crush, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), and together, they struggle with love, commitment, and secrets. As Peter discovers a mysterious briefcase that belonged to his father, he begins a quest to understand his parents’ disappearance – leading him directly to Oscorp and the lab of Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), his father’s former partner. As Spider-Man is set on a collision course with Connors’ alter-ego, The Lizard, Peter will make life-altering choices to use his powers and shape his destiny to become a hero. ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ will be swinging onto the big screen July 3rd in the US and July 4th in the UK.
Can you talk a little about this incarnation of the Peter Parker/Spider-Man story? In this, there’s a number of things from the Spider-Man universe that we haven’t seen outside of the comics.
Marc Webb: Yeah. I think there’s a lot of things in the comics that haven’t been explored cinematically before. First and foremost we have the story of Peter Parker’s parents. When I was thinking about the character, I was really curious about what happened to him when he was a young kid. He was raised by his aunt and uncle, but we had never met his parents. So I wanted to know the mystery and the story behind that. That’s the beginning of the untold story, it starts off with Peter Parker’s parents. And also, of course, there’s the Gwen Stacy saga, which if you’re familiar with the comics is a really fascinating, ultimately tragic, but interesting storyline that is at times controversial but always interesting. So I wanted to explore that. Then of course there’s the villain, Dr. Curt Connors, otherwise known as The Lizard. Which was one of my favourite villains from the comics and I thought it would be fun to give life to that.
Working on music videos and commercials for a number of years and then the success of ’500 Days of Summer,’ how was the challenge of moving onto this huge, tentpole movie, with such recognisable characters?
Marc Webb: It was fun. With ‘500 Days of Summer’ it was a movie about the small moments in-between two people. Maximising the impact of these little private moments that happened between people. I think that in ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ there’s a lot of that as well. That’s the foundation which the entire film is built. And then there’s the action sequences….I had done music videos and commercials for ten years before I did ’500 Days of Summer,’ and there was a lot of technical processes of making that film that was really fun to explore. But as a fan of action movies and a fan of movies with a lot of scope, it was a great adventure. And like with anything, it was about putting the time in, orchestrating those sequences. In a real way, that was one of the most fun parts about the experience on ‘The Amazing Spider-Man,’ developing and working on the action. Ultimately it’s about the time you have to spend on it. And when you think about action sequences too, ultimately you’ve got to look at them as scenes, there’s an emotional drive and impact. Characters are usually a bit different at the beginning of them than they are at the end of them. That was something that was fun to explore.
In presenting the movie in 3D, I can image that had a number of unique challenges and things to think about as well?
Marc Webb: Oh yeah. When the idea of presenting ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ in 3D came up, I was concerned how we were going to do the 3D. I wanted to make sure that if it was going to be in 3D, then we wanted it to be the most authentic, realistic, and best quality 3D that there could be. So I decided to shoot the movie in stereo, that means you have camera’s that are a little bit bigger, you’re sitting there with two cameras at all times in order to create a legitimate, smooth three-dimensional experience. I didn’t want to convert, we wanted to shoot authentically in stereo. But that demanded a certain sort of protocol – a lot more crew to work with you on the set (laughs). But I think, ultimately, it creates a seamless 3D experience.
Beyond that I wanted to design sequences with 3D in mind, to exploit the assets of 3D filmmaking, specifically for ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ I call it the “3 V’s of 3D”, there’s vertigo, volume and velocity. When you’re creating a sense of volume, you’re getting a sense of space. With rain or with ash….and there’s a couple sequences in the movie where we had some debris floating in the air to give you a sense of space. Or if there’s stuff underwater with floating debris, you feel like you’re inside of an environment. Then in terms of velocity, when Spider-Man is swinging through an alley near the end of the movie, or going through an enclosed space, you sense that drive and sense that speed. I think that when you’re in an IMAX, or a big theatrical experience, that is heightened. Then of course there’s vertigo. For example, at the end of the movie, there’s a tower falling and you’re looking down to the streets when he’s swinging on the cranes. I wanted to create that sensation that you were with Spider-Man at that moment. You were feeling what he’s feeling, sensing that feeling of vertigo that you really want to get out of Spider-Man.
The dynamic between Dr. Curt Connors/The Lizard and Peter Parker/Spider-Man is really interesting, especially thematically….?
Marc Webb: Dr. Curt Connors is one of the literal embodiments in the film, which is that we all have a missing piece. Peter Parker is missing his parents, he goes out in search of that. Dr. Curt Connors is missing an arm, and he’s in search of that. How we choice to fill that void is how we define ourselves. That is something that Peter Parker does and ultimately becomes a better person for it. Curt’s character weaknesses, or flaws, or desperation is exaggerated and he becomes a villain. It’s an interesting dilemma for Peter Parker because he both cares about this guy, and he has to stop him. He’s both a mentor and an adversary in a very real way. Dr. Curt Connors gets this feeling of power and the sensation of this majestic notion about himself and decides to act upon that. I think it’s interesting because he believes he’s doing the right thing, which all great villains do of course, and I think that was a fun thing to play,
Andrew Garfield is fantastic as Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Speaking to the producers they said it was an instantaneous choice to cast him?
Marc Webb: Sure. Andrew Garfield is just an extraordinary actor who can handle both the emotional gravitas that is required of a tragic figure like Peter Parker, but he’s also got humour and levity. Which is another really important part of the Spider-Man character that’s baked into his DNA. He can also respond to the physical demands that a role like Spider-Man requires in a really great way. All that wrapped up into somebody who can convincingly play a teenager was a difficult thing to find. When he walked through the door it was a pretty easy choice, a very easy choice (laughs).
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