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Maguire Figuring Out Spider-Man's Future

"Spider-Man 3" stars Tobey Maguire, right, and Kirsten Dunst smile upon their arrival at the film's world premiere in Tokyo Monday, April 16, 2007. The will make its U.S. premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 30, sparking a week of celebrations in the New York City borough of Queens - the hometown of Spider-Man. (Photo: AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)
AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi
Tobey Maguire says he and his big-screen alter-ego, Spider-Man, "have very different lives."

Still, both are caught in the same web of uncertainty: What next?

The upcoming release of "Spider-Man 3" raises as many questions as it answers for the web-slinging hero and the actor behind him.

Is the Spidey franchise finished? Will Maguire sign on for a fourth installment? Will Peter Parker propose to Mary Jane? How will fatherhood and marriage affect Maguire's future? What roles lie ahead after superhero success?


Photos: "Spidey" In U.K.
"Everything's in transition for me," says the actor, sitting in a plush suite at Beverly Hills' Four Seasons Hotel. "My friendships, where I want to live."

And his work. After playing "Spider-Man" for six years, and fitting in "Seabiscuit" and "The Good German" in between, the 31-year-old star is looking at a wide-open calendar. His top priority is spending time with his fiancé, Jennifer Meyer, and their 5-month-old daughter, Ruby Sweetheart. But workwise?

"I don't have any specific ideas," he says, looking sharp in a gray suit, white shirt and Hollywood stubble. "I want to work in all types of movies. I don't care the size of the movie. I want to work in different genres and different types of films. It just all depends on scripts and directors."

He's not ruling out another adventure with Spider-Man and its three-time director, Sam Raimi. But he's not ruling it in, either.

"If there's a script I love, if the character goes in directions that I think would be great, and if Sam's involved and the right cast is there, then I would consider it at that point," Maguire says, adding that it could take years to develop a script for "Spider-Man 4."

"I think they would love for Sam to do it, so we'll just see."

As far as Raimi is concerned, there is no other Peter Parker besides Maguire. He cast the actor after seeing him in "The Cider House Rules."

"What I saw within his performance was a sensitivity and a vulnerability that I felt the character had to have," Raimi recalls. "There was an outcry at the time that he was wrong, that he was never going to be Peter Parker. But I was never bothered by that. Because although I'm a very insecure person, I was very confident I knew the character, knew who he was, and that these people were thinking of some hero called Spider-Man. And that the real heart of Spider-Man was this kid behind the mask. That's what I was going to make this movie about."

Laura Ziskin, one of the film's producers, says she had some initial reservations about Maguire's superhero qualities — until she saw his screen test.

"We cast him immediately," she says. "When we finished the movie, you know you cast something right when you can't imagine anybody else doing the part."

Maguire manages to capture Peter Parker's low-profile nature as well as Spider-Man's over-the-top heroics, says co-star Bryce Dallas Howard, who plays affection-object Gwen Stacy in "Spider-Man 3."

"I understand why he got cast as this character and why he's so beloved as this character: because he's not so different," she says. "He's a good, good man ... and he goes to great lengths to help people around him."

Still, Maguire says he doesn't feel he owns the role.

"I don't go to bed at night thinking, `Ah, I'm Spider-Man,"' he says. "These are properties for these studios and ... I won't be doing them forever whether I do another one or not."

Meanwhile, he's enjoying the accomplishment of finishing a six-year project. He celebrated with some time off before jumping into the movie's marketing madness, which included a trip to Tokyo and a jaunt to New York City. He likes "being part of the event" of "Spider-Man 3," he says, but his measured speech gives the impression that he might prefer privacy.

Maguire says he's "proud" of his work on the three Spider-Man films: "I feel like this version of it is ours." Now he's looking forward to free time and figuring out fatherhood.

"It kind of changes everything when you're a dad," he says. "You don't have the same time to hang out with your friends. You don't have the same time to do other stuff that, for me, I used to do. But you're trading it up for something that's better, which is getting to hang out with my daughter, and that's amazing."

By Sandy Cohen, AP Entertainment Writer