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Interview with Topher Grace, Thomas Haden Church and Bryce Dallas Howard

Sandman, Venom and Gwen Stacy Talk About 'Spider-Man 3'

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Thomas Haden Church photo from Spider-Man 3

Thomas Haden Church as Flint Marko in Spider-Man 3.

© Columbia Pictures
Three of the newcomers to the Spider-Man movie franchise – Topher Grace (Venom), Thomas Haden Church (Sandman) and Bryce Dallas Howard (Gwen Stacy) – put in a surprise appearance at the 2006 San Diego Comic Con.

Along with Sam Raimi, Kirsten Dunst, and Tobey Maguire, the three were in San Diego to show off clips from the film and answer questions. But getting any juicy Spidey tidbits from the Spider-Man 3 newbies wasn’t going to happen. The threesome were under strict orders not to reveal any details on the plot or how their characters interact. Neverless, in the mini-press conference prior to wowing the standing room only Comic Con crowd, Grace, Haden Church, and Howard tried their best to give interesting answers to probing questions.

What can you say about Gwen Stacy?

Bryce Dallas Howard: “I play Gwen Stacy and she’s a part of a love triangle between Peter Parker and Mary Jane, and that’s all I’m going to say about it.”

Are you a redhead in the movie?

Bryce Dallas Howard: “No, no, no - I’m a blonde.”

So the blonde [Kirsten Dunst] is playing the redhead and the redhead is playing the blonde?

Bryce Dallas Howard: “Yes, it’s ironic.”

Sam Raimi verified that Venom is in Spider-Man 3 so what can you tell us about your character?

Topher Grace: “It’s great; he’s a great character to play. Unlike most bad guys, he truly loves being evil, so I mean, he really comes to grips with it and enjoys it. It was fun to play someone that finds their way to that place. It’s a fun thing to play as an actor.”

Bryce Dallas Howard: “And Topher was able to call upon his own personal life where he loves being evil.”

Topher Grace: “Yeah, before the role, I went out and killed a hobo with a hammer. And it worked. All of a sudden it was like people were treating me differently.”

Thomas Haden Church: “Especially hobos. ‘Stay away from That 70’s Show guy!’”

Was there ever any trepidation about doing a comic book movie?

Topher Grace: “Let’s ask the guy who’s been nominated for an Oscar.”

Thomas Haden Church: “I wouldn’t say there was trepidation. But, you know, you have a tradition with a comic book and you have to honor that. Then you look at the requisite storytelling that went on with the first two movies. I just wanted to do my part. I really just wanted to like get in the game, be in for one minute, not fumble the ball in the end zone. I just wanted to be able to do what was asked of me. Sam is such – he’s a real actor’s director. I refer to him as Elia Kazan trapped inside this Motor City Madman action picture director body. …He just has a great specificity. I think that’s part of the allure of the movies is to create people who that are very accessible and to hire actors that are very accessible and identifiable to the audience.”

Do the villains fight each other or work together?

Topher Grace: “I think that’s something we can’t comment on.”

Thomas Haden Church: “I’m actually not even sure I’m in the movie, so, no. How vague can you get? I may or may not be in Spider-Man 3. No, we can’t [comment].”

Were you prepared for the technical, special effects aspect of working on Spider-Man 3? Was it an eye-opening experience?

Thomas Haden Church: “I just wanted to see Topher naked.”

Topher Grace: “Mission accomplished (laughing).”

Bryce Dallas Howard: “Sam really carries you through that and explains everything with such detail that he brings you into the moment. You forget that you’re standing there naked with Topher.”

Topher Grace: “That’s only for my off-camera work (laughing).”

Were you familiar with the characters from the comics before signing on to Spider-Man 3?

Topher Grace: “Yeah, I got into it when Todd McFarland was illustrating the comic in the late 80’s, which fortunately was right when my character was coming into existence. What I love is how when kids get cast in these movies, they’re like, ‘You know, I’ve never even seen Star Wars before.’ I mean, I was like such a big fan of Peter Parker and a lot work Tom McFarland had done, so I’m probably the geekiest guy ever to be cast in a geek film.”

Bryce Dallas Howard: “I can confirm that. One of my friends was saying today. He’s like, because he’s such a huge, huge fan of the comic book, he’s like, ‘I’m so glad that Topher is here because he’s like really representing.’”

Topher Grace: “The first day I was on the set was in the Bugle and just as a fan of the first two movies to be like… You know like those theme parks that are like, ‘We’ll put you in the movie,’ and the guy is there with the cigar? It was tough because I had to be angry, and I was just smiling ear to ear.”

Is there a dichotomy between Eddie Brock and Peter Parker?

Topher Grace: “There is. That’s what I liked about the character the most. He’s kind of a case study in if someone had the same job and kind of maybe the same taste in women and got the same powers, but had a really bad upbringing. So I used to say on set to Sam, ‘It’s like with great power comes great fun.’”

Page 2: The Love Triangle and Action Figures

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