Topher Grace plays Eddie Brock, a brash newcomer who tries to take over Peter Parker's job as the photographer for The Daily Bugle in Spider-Man 3, potentially the final film of the series for Spider-Man veterans Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, and writer/director Sam Raimi. Grace knows his Spider-Man comics and after years of competing for roles with Maguire, the former star of That '70s Show was thrilled to play an important role in the third Spider-Man movie.
Topher Grace = Huge Spider-Man Fan: “Oh yeah. I was not just a huge fan of the first two films. I told Sam when we got together I thought there were only two films, two franchises, where the sequel's been better than the first one. And it's Aliens and Godfather - and the New Testament (laughing), so I was a huge fan of his films. I thought he was a great director beforehand. The comic book I was an even bigger fan of, in the late 80s. Ironically it was when Venom, the character I play, was being born by the great Todd McFarland who kind of revolutionized comics at that time. I felt like when he offered me the role, I had this inside track. I kind of had to sit on my hands and not say yes too quickly, because I hadn't negotiated my deal yet. But I wanted to say, ‘I'll pay you to do it!’”
Grace shared an interesting tidbit, just to show how much of a fan he was coming into Spider-Man 3. “[Todd McFarland] illustrated the Amazing Spider-Man, which is the main Spider-Man comic book. But then he had his own title - just to let you know I’m legit - he had his own title which was just Spider-Man and he did the first 17 issues or so of it. I bought the first issue and he signed it for me when I was younger at some mall signing or something. I don’t know if he knows that so write about that because he’ll probably look in the paper and go, ‘What?!’”
Getting the Character Right: Grace knew this character well and was allowed to contribute a little to the story. “Well, the evil Doppelganger idea came from Alvin Sargent, the writer, but the script wasn't done when I signed on so there was kind of like places open for ideas, in terms of how that could play out. Something I was nervous about, because I was such a huge fan of the comic book, was that Eddie Brock was much older than me and really muscle bound. Even though I worked out for like six months, I could never get to where he was. But Sam kind of put my mind at ease by saying, ‘Don't worry, we’ve got a really cool idea for the origin.’
There's a retelling of the Spider-Man story in a comic book called Ultimate Spider-Man. It's kind of taken from that comic book, a little bit too. It's kind of a case study in that somebody had received kind of very similar powers to Spider-Man, but didn't have a great father figure like Uncle Ben telling him, ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’ He probably would use it for evil. Even Peter kind of used it for personal gain when he first got the power.
I thought, ‘This is neat,’ because I know I'm like Tobey. I've lost roles to him before and we work at the same place in the film and we're after spoiler deleted. Something I loved about it was that they gave Eddie the edge at the beginning, which is weird. Everything is kind of rolling his way. He's a better photographer. He dresses better; he’s got more of a flourish. But then as is so often the case, if someone's got it all going on in the exterior, it's probably hiding a very shallow interior. And although Peter might not have as polished an exterior as Eddie, he has a very solid core. It was great because it showed two people who are very similar and who ultimately are totally opposite.”
Getting Prepared Physically for Spider-Man 3: Asked if he normally works out, Grace laughed and replied, “You know it, big time. No, it might surprise you all to learn that I had never actually worked out before. The minute the film wrapped I quit. They told me at the first meeting that it’s going to be really intense. The suit’s going to be intense and the fangs, and they’re going to put you up on wires. Six months before, I hit the gym with this guy named Duffy who trains Brad Pitt and also helped train Tobey on the first one. It was two hours a day, six days a week. It was crazy. But what really surprised me was that wasn’t so hard. He’s a nice guy and it was kind of fun.
But the eating really… First of all, I thought, ‘Gain weight? All right, Krispy Kreme.’ You have to gain a specific kind of weight so it’s really kind of boring, protein-filled meals and shakes, and it’s eating past the point of being full. That part for me was really hard and just something to get used to. I’m actually glad I started it well before the film so I could just concentrate on that, and then it was kind of second nature when I was doing the film.”
Joining an Established Cast: Grace had briefly met Maguire years ago, but once he signed on to Spider-Man 3 he was amazed how quickly Maguire reached out to the Spider-Man newbie. “When I got this film, I saw him in the parking lot at Sony like a couple of days later. I’d just been meeting with Sam and he walked right up to me and said, 'Hey, if you have any questions or you need anything, here's my phone number. I'm so excited that…’ These guys - James [Franco] and Tobey and Kirsten [Dunst] and Sam - have the biggest movie of all time, like twice, so I was nervous to come in like the new kid, and he couldn't have been more warm and open.
The thing a lot of people don't know about Tobey is that he's really, really funny. Both him and Sam are very quiet and reserved, but they're wickedly funny. So it's weird because even though it's such a dark film, a lot of my memories are us - me and Sam and Tobey, because I worked with them the most - just kind of cracking up all the time and making each other laugh.”