Rhys Ifans Interview For ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’
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.
To start with, Dr. Curt Connors’ research is potentially a force for good. But then as the story moves along, there’s a lot of similiraties between what he goes through as The Lizard and hard drug addiction….?
Rhys Ifans: Yeah. Dr. Curt Connors and Richard Parker, they lead the early advancements in cross-species genetics. Peter Parker’s father was working with arachnids, spiders. And I was working with reptiles. Given the fact that I’m limbless and reptiles have the ability to re-grow a limb, that is potentially a force for good – given the amount of military and landmine victims, civilians, all over the world. It could be a good thing. The drug addiction, that was something in my mind. It was very clear, you know? He injects himself and develops the strength of ten men, he thinks he’s godlike. What he doesn’t reckon with is of course the advancement with science will re-grow his arm. But also he acquires reptilian, cold blooded traits.
What was the most interesting part of transforming into The Lizard?
Rhys Ifans: There were moments where I’m turning from a human into a reptile, and then turning back from a reptile into a human. Those for me were the most interesting parts to play. I was like, “OK, how much Lizard am I? How much human am I?” (Laughs) They’re really kind of brutalising, emotional, transitional points. And I guess again, the drug addict thing, the anticipation and the rush of the becoming. Then there’s the awful comedown of becoming human again, with all its frailties and insecurities and doubts and weaknesses – as The Lizard would see them. The CGI, obviously I left to a lot of clever people with computers (laughs), but then the transitional stuff I was in the hands of these incredible makeup artists for up to, at its worse, seven hours with four people working on me. Which I was very nervous about, because I’m not very good at sitting still for any length of time. But these people are so amazing at what they do, I was kind of transfixed by just watching four great artists create there work on my face (laughs). It was kinda cool.
Spider-Man and his world have been around for decades now. What do you think is the appeal of the character? He’s had so many incarnations in comic books, cartoons, musicals, movies….
Rhys Ifans: I was obviously aware of Spider-Man, like everyone is. I wasn’t a comic book boffin by any stretch, but when I got the part I got all these flashes of when I was very young and there was certainly a year or two in my early life where I kind of ran around the house being Spider-Man (laughs). I do remember cutting out a Spider-Man mask from the back of one of the comics and tying a bit of thread around it and colouring it in (laughs). I think that’s one of the enduring powers about Spider-Man, that he’s not an aloof millionaire like Batman who lives in a mountain. Or he’s not a god-like entity like Superman. He’s a kid who goes to school, who’s going through puberty, who’s bullied, who feels ostracised. That’s something we can all relate to, and I guess, why we revisit this story so often.
What do you think made Marc Webb the right person to direct ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’?
Rhys Ifans: I can see why Marc Webb is a great choice for this because it’s different to the other Spider-Man movies, I think, in that it’s very much to do with much more human relationships. Although we have plenty of crash-bang-wallop spectacle. There’s something very human about this film. I guess, essentially, ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ is about bullying. Marc Webb is obviously visually adept, but he’s also very forensic when it comes to the emotional world of the characters. I just thinks there’s a much more emotional baseline to this. IN that Peter Parker needs to know what happened to his dad.
The production design in ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ looks great, I can imagine that informing you performance?
Rhys Ifans: Oh definitely. It’s amazing to walk onto a set, this is how good the sets were, to walk onto a set and to leave the set and forget you were actually in a studio. Usually you’re amazed when you walk through a studio door and onto a set. But the sets on ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ are so good, you’re stunned when you go off the set (laughs), you’re like, “Oh my God, it’s in an iron box.” They’re incredible, the loving attention to detail. That does really inform the microcosms of your emotional world, you know? Knowing that everything around you is absolutely real, it just allows you to do your thing.
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