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THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2

About The Characters
Peter Parker / Spider-Man

Returning to the role of Peter Parker is Andrew Garfield, the BAFTA-winning actor who created a new vision for the role in The Amazing Spider-Man.

Producer Avi Arad says that the role is quite complicated. Spider-Man is capable of so much that Peter Parker couldn't do, but the heart of the character is always Peter. "Stan Lee and Steve Ditko created an incredibly complex character - the actor basically has to play two roles, Peter Parker and Spider-Man," says Arad. "But Andrew can do it all - he's the best actor I've seen in years. He has all of the humanity, he can create the conflict and the drama, he can even do all of the stunts that we'll let him do. He's such an amazing young man. To top it all off, Andrew has both a mental and a physical sense of humor, which is the true embodiment of Spider-Man."

Garfield was eager to return to the role for many reasons - not least of which is the fact that he's a huge fan of the character. "I know how important it is to be a fan. I know what Spider-Man can do for kids - and for people who aren't kids anymore," he says. "For anyone who encounters the character, who has an affinity for him, it's so reassuring when it's done right. No matter what problems you have in your life, Spider-Man is there as evidence that you can get through it - because Peter Parker has all the problems of a kid, and he's getting through it, too. He's reaching out his hand to tell you it'll be okay."

Garfield sees Spider-Man as the ultimate protector of the underdog. "He has an overdeveloped sense of responsibility and heroic impulse, but he has this deeply felt sense of justice," Garfield explains. "That's not something you can learn - you're born that way."

Garfield says that the filmmakers opened up the character much more in this film - harking back to the original characterization in the comic books. "Peter Parker trips over his own two feet, but Spider-Man can trip anybody up. He's a trickster," says Garfield. "One of the defining characteristics of the trickster is they turn their enemies' weaknesses against themselves - rather than throwing punches and kicks, they are making their opponents beat themselves."

To pull it off, Garfield trained and practiced and studied the masters. "Cal McCrystal was our 'Clown Deviser' - our name for a physical comedy consultant. There were certain scenes, certain ideas, that came directly out of conversations that I'd had with Cal. And I love Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton - I admire that skill. We had an opportunity to explore that as Spider-Man has the same kind of physical foolishness."

Still, even as Spider-Man has to face the prospect of multiple villains uniting against him, Peter is sorting out what he's going to do about the most important part of his life - Gwen Stacy. Peter hasn't forgotten the promise he made to Captain Stacy, but that's a promise he just can't keep. "Peter and Gwen are giving it a go," says Garfield. "For better or worse, Peter has an overdeveloped sense of responsibility. It's hard for him to live with himself by breaking that promise, but impossible for him to live without her. He's dealing with the guilt of a broken promise, but there's also a destiny between them that they can't deny. He's a torn, confused young man trying to figure out the best thing to do."

Gwen Stacy

Garfield was excited by the chance to re-team with Emma Stone, who reprises her role as Gwen Stacy. "She keeps you on your toes and makes sure you've done your homework so that you can keep up," says Garfield. "You can throw anything at her and she will move with it. She's the most talented actress I know."

Stone returns the compliment: "Before we shot the first movie, I hadn't seen much of his work. Now I know: he's capable of so much," she says. "It's an honor to work with an actor like that. I learn so much by working with him - he's incredibly prepared, meticulous, and really brave, all at the same time. He's able to bring so much depth to the character."

"Emma Stone is Gwen," says Arad. "The most amazing actress, who brings the movie charm, love, light, and a spirit of independence. She is the epitome of what we want our women to be: smart, ambitious, and loyal."

"Gwen is such a powerful woman, a powerful character in her own right," says Tolmach. "She is not waiting around for Peter Parker to decide whether he can or cannot be with her. Her dreams are every bit as significant as Peter's."

The film opens on graduation day, with Gwen taking her rightful place as the class valedictorian. "At the end of the first film, Gwen and Peter broke up - but it obviously didn't stick," says Stone. "She has a lot to figure out. She's set to go to Columbia, she's got this great opportunity to maybe go to Oxford, and she's trying to find her way with this boy who has a lot going on in his life."

Stone says that she was excited to be returning to her role - one of the mythic, most powerful characters in the canon. "Gwen Stacy is such an important character in the Spider-Man world," she says. "The fate of her character is something everyone loves to talk about and Marc is really embracing the storyline and telling his version over the course of these movies. Before my audition for the first film, I read about her story, and the more I read, the more I wanted to play her."

Stone says that Gwen has a much different outlook on their relationship than Peter does - an empowered outlook. Gwen is a woman determined to make her own choices and does not feel the need to be protected by any man, even Spider-Man. "Peter had sworn to stay away from Gwen - which she knows - but she's more open to being with Peter anyway," Stone explains. "It's not just because they're in love. Her father died, but that's given her a huge awareness of time - that everything is fleeting. Peter is more conflicted about it, and there's a lot of tension between them throughout this movie."

At the same time, Webb says, there's a sense of trouble ahead in their relationship. "Gwen has her own life to lead," says the director. "She gets an opportunity to go study in England. She's going to be a doctor, she's going to save lives. There's such great possibility to her life. Peter wants to let her go - he's happy for her - but he can't, because he loves her and that's who he is - he's bound up in her soul, in only the way that teenage love can bind people."

Max Dillon / Electro

Set against this love story, of course, is Spider-Man's vow to protect New York. As the hero's greatest battle begins in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, it was important to the filmmakers to put in his way the toughest obstacle the hero has yet faced. At the same time, they wanted a villain deeply rooted in Spider-Man lore: a tragic figure, even sympathetic in some ways, but one who makes the wrong choices that lead him into evil and opposition against Spider-Man.

"Marvel villains are also victims of circumstance. They deal with their issues and pain by doing the wrong things, hence, becoming villains," says Arad. "Although they have their everyday problems like everybody else, unlike Spider-Man, they cannot tell right from wrong. Electro is a prime example. Max Dillon is an underdog, not a villain - you want to feel badly for him. He's a man who has been ignored his whole life. But when he becomes Electro, he wants recognition, at all costs. Electro, the villain, is taking out his frustration and anger on humanity, specifically targeting Spider-Man. No good deed goes unpunished."

"Spider-Man is the most visible person in New York - you pit that against Max Dillon, who is quite literally almost invisible," Kurtzman explains. "He says, 'I wish everybody could see me the way they see Spider-Man.' He fantasizes about Spider-Man - even thinking that they're best friends, based on one interaction. All he wants is to be recognized for what he does well - which is what we all want."

Max was once Spider-Man's greatest fan, but, as Electro, becomes his greatest foe. "No one remembers his name, no one cares if he comes to work, he has no family, no one to care about or to care about him," Arad continues. "He has one role model, one friend in his mind, and it's Spider-Man. But when he misinterprets one of Spider-Man's actions, he feels betrayed. It hardens him. Things fall apart. And he becomes Electro. Max was living in the dark, unnoticed; as Electro, he'll take away everyone's power, and they will know what it was like to live that way. That's a great villain."

"Max is a very, very smart guy, a guy who should be celebrated for building big things for Oscorp," explains Jamie Foxx, who takes on the role. "Max should be getting a company car and an expense account - and instead, he gets nothing. He resents it, but he doesn't know how to react. He's ready to lash out, but he doesn't know how."

Max finds a way to lash out - against the very person who was once his idol. "Spider-Man was the one person who did seem to notice Max, who said his name," Foxx points out. "As Max, he feels that Spider-Man was his friend. Actually, because of that, he becomes obsessed - pictures on his wall, that kind of thing. He takes it very seriously. But later, after Max gets his powers and comes to Times Square, Spider-Man tries to stop Max from hurting himself and innocent New Yorkers. Max feels betrayed by his hero. He tragically misinterprets what Spider-Man is trying to do. He sees Spider-Man getting all the glory, at his expense - even though it's not what Spider-Man intended. But it doesn't matter - to Max, that's a betrayal."

Tolmach explains why Jamie Foxx was the actor that was ideal for the role. "The character called for someone who could break your heart - a guy who could be genuinely sympathetic and quiet, a guy you'd bump into on the street and pay no attention to - the guy who has so much inside but is overlooked by everybody," Tolmach explains. "But the character also called for someone who could embody this powerful force when everything goes terribly wrong - the alter ego of that quiet, sympathetic man - an extrovert, loud and bombastic. Jamie Foxx was perfect for that."

Continuing, Tolmach recalls Foxx's performance in the 2001 film Ali as part of the reason he was so sure that Foxx was the man for the job. "He played Bundini Brown, a beautifully soft-spoken, sympathetic, and vulnerable man," he says. "I always remembered that magical performance. We've all seen Jamie filled with bravado and his voice is so powerful, and he's unbelievably charismatic and funny, but that performance showed the other side. It's an incredibly rare combination of qualities."

Still, before taking the role, Foxx was counseled by one of his closest advisors about what would be in store for him as Electro. "When I told my daughter that I was going to be in a Spider-Man movie, she said, 'Who are you gonna play?' I said, 'Electro.' She said, 'Oh, Dad, you know you're gonna get beat up. You know that, right?'"

Harry Osborn / Green Goblin

Joining the cast in the pivotal role of Harry Osborn is Dane DeHaan, who has turned heads through his performances in such films as Chronicle, Lawless, Kill Your Darlings, and The Place Beyond the Pines.

In this vision for the character, Harry is Peter's long-lost friend. "Their fathers had been partners - but when everything went down between Norman Osborn and Richard Parker, and Richard disappeared, Peter and Harry were split. They haven't talked to each other in a very long time - until now," DeHaan explains.

After years at boarding school, Harry is called back to New York - to his father's deathbed. "He thinks his father is going to say 'I love you, goodbye,' but instead, it's very different. Harry finds out he has the same disease that is killing his father, and his father says, basically, 'Deal with it,'" DeHaan continues.

"That's when Peter comes back into Harry's life," says DeHaan. "At the heart of it, they remember the loving friendship they had as children."

Harry has grown to be a very different person than Peter has. "My take going in was that Harry was a trust fund baby - a hipster New York kid," says DeHaan. "That's a very specific place, a very specific type of person - right down to the way he looks. Harry latches on to his material possessions, because they are the only things that he's not afraid of showing - he can use this materialistic quality to hide what's on the inside. Marc was very responsive to that, and then, hearing my ideas, Marc guided me on a specific path to help create Harry."

That path takes Harry from privileged trust fund kid to the most menacing villain in New York. In taking the reins at Oscorp, Harry - like his father before him - marshals the vast resources of the company in an effort to save his own life. Through his discovery of Oscorp's secret lair of Special Projects, he comes to believe that Spider-Man's blood is the answer to all his prayers - and that belief becomes an obsession that eventually leads Harry on a transformation to becoming the Green Goblin.

"Harry Osborn represents a unique Peter Parker/Spider-Man classic conflict," says Arad. "Harry was his best friend, and again, due to circumstances, Harry becomes an enemy who sets out to destroy Spider-Man. What makes it most difficult is Spider-Man is feeling the need to help his friend and stop him from becoming this self-destructive villain."

"There have been many iterations of the Goblin within the Spider-Man canon," says DeHaan. "We did the research about how these characters have become the Goblin, what the Goblin was. We had a responsibility to honor the material and to make it our own. Even though we took some liberties, it was of utmost importance to honor the classic elements of the Green Goblin that everyone knows and loves."

Marc Webb says that in many ways, Peter and Harry face the same choices - only to have very different responses to those choices. "Harry is a foil for Peter," says Webb. "He's intelligent like Peter is. Peter and Harry were both abandoned by their fathers, though in different ways - one physically, and the other emotionally. But Harry didn't have a May and Ben in his life to comfort him and guide him, as Peter did. And because of that, he's developed a rasher, more abrasive quality. That's how he endures his life; he's become a little hardened. They start off as best friends, and end up as mortal enemies, driven apart by jealousy and rage."

The sense of betrayal that Harry feels becomes very personal after Harry comes to think that Spider-Man's blood could provide the cure he's anxious to receive. "But Peter knows that Spider-Man's blood turned Dr. Curt Connors into the Lizard," says one of the screenwriters, Jeff Pinkner. "If he were to give Harry the same blood, it might do the same or worse to Harry. Peter desperately wants to do anything he can to help his best friend, but his blood might do something far worse than kill him. Of course, Peter can't explain all of that to Harry - and even if he could, it's not clear that Harry would accept that. It's a real problem for Peter, and ultimately, it leads Harry to unite with Electro."

"Harry and Electro form a deal over their mutual hatred of Spider-Man," says Kurtzman. "That's a great moment - two villains who hate the hero, but for different reasons. And it results in Harry turning the full resources of Oscorp against Spider-Man."

Tolmach says that when casting the role, DeHaan wasn't necessarily the first name that Webb and the producers dreamt up. "We'd seen Dane in a couple of movies, but we just didn't know the breadth of his work," says Tolmach. "But something magical happened. He was wholly original and unique and different. He forced us to see the character in a way we didn't before - an extraordinary way. We were mesmerized. There's something about his eyes; he has a searing intensity and there's enormous heart, but there's also a lot of pain and room for darkness. That's Harry Osborn."

"Dane is a fantastic actor. He looks like no one else," says Arad. "Those eyes are his. He's vulnerable; he can show you his journey, or awkwardness, or insanity, or whatever the scene calls for. And he's a perfect match for Marc Webb, who often directs his actors to let go and show him whatever comes to mind - Dane can go haywire and give you scenes that are very different."

"It was exciting to be cast as Harry, because it's such a full, dynamic, crazy arc of a character," DeHaan concludes. "I knew it was something I could really sink my teeth into."

DeHaan would spend four hours in makeup and wardrobe to transform into the villain. "The makeup designer, Sarah Rubano, and I developed together a whole evolution of the makeup," says DeHaan. "It starts from a pimple on my neck and starts to spread to his face - something Harry tries to hide but can't. And then, once he takes the spider venom in this desperate attempt to save himself, it accelerates the disease to an almost fatal stage - the same stage that Norman Osborn is at when he dies. I wore a few prosthetics - ears and a nose tip - but it was mostly individual sores and wounds that we fairly specifically chose. I also wore teeth and contacts - he has the Goblin's menacing smile and those big eyes. The shape of my hair pays homage to the purple hood that the Green Goblin wears in the comics."

Aleksei Sytsevich / The Rhino

As the enemies begin to unite in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, one enemy to join the sinister cause is the Russian gangster Aleksei Sytsevich. Stopped and sent packing by Spider-Man early in the film, he returns as a highly mechanized Oscorp invention - the Rhino.

The Rhino was in fact Paul Giamatti's favorite Marvel character when he was growing up. "He's just brute force, and a little kid loves that sort of thing," the actor says, describing the Rhino's appeal. "You can just destroy everything, go through a brick wall. The Rhino had that great mean face all the time and was cool-looking."

An appearance on Conan O'Brien's late night talk show in 2011 led to Giamatti being cast as the Rhino in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. "As a joke, Conan asked me if I could be in one of the Spider-Man movies, what would I want to play, and I said the Rhino," says Giamatti. "I guess Marc Webb saw it, and when they were coming around to do this one, I met him and he asked, 'Would you seriously want to play the Rhino?' It's such a weird fantasy thing - I feel like I'm seven!"

Aunt May

Two-time Oscar winner Sally Field reprises her role as Peter's Aunt May. "She's Peter's moral compass," says the actress. "She is the one who keeps things in perspective, but also understands what he's going through. She's his biggest supporter. But she also knows things he doesn't - secrets that she'll share when the time is right."

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