“Spider-Man” star Tobey Maguire has a pretty great working relationship with director Ang Lee – he caught his big break in Lee’s tremendous 1997 outing “The Ice Storm,” and, to a lesser degree, gave a fine performance in the filmmaker’s underrated Civil War-set 1999 film “Ride With The Devil” (which recently received a handsome release courtesy of the Criterion Collection). So news that Maguire was cut from Lee’s upcoming awards contender “Life of Pi,” led many to question how the pair would get along from here on out – we’re guessing things are going to be just fine.
Maguire had shot a small role for Lee’s adaptation of the bestselling novel by Yann Martel, in a part credited as “The Writer,” where he would be seen interviewing the lead protagonist Pi. Now, “Prometheus” actor Rafe Spall (weren’t we just saying what a commodity he’s becoming?) has taken over the role as THR reveals Lee didn’t think the performance was jiving well with the rest of the film. Now, a source close to the set reveals that Lee thought perhaps Maguire was too famous for the role, which we could totally see being distracting for an audience within a film containing many unfamiliar faces. While Spall isn’t exactly a complete unknown, he doesn’t have the baggage of three mega-grossing ‘Spider-Man’ movies, and an entire generation of folks who recognize him as such (despite Andrew Garfield’s best attempts).
Maguire seems pretty cool about the whole thing though, stating “I fully support Ang’s decision to go a different direction for this role in ‘Life of Pi.’ Ang shared a lot of the film with me, and what I saw was absolutely beautiful,” with Lee adding that “To be consistent with the other casting choices made for the film, I decided to go with an entirely international cast. I very much admire Tobey and look forward to working with him again in the future.” Regardless, we’re pretty sure Maguire probably took home a handsome paycheck and got to see a lot of cool stuff on set. Win?
The trades seem to be trying to spin this as an awkward riff in the relationship between Lee and Maguire, but honestly this is the sort of thing that happens all the time when people try to cast their buds in their films – and we can think of a handful of instances where it just didn’t work (Will Smith in “Jersey Girl” anyone?). Maguire isn’t slowing down as he has Jason Reitman’s “Labor Day” and “The Great Gatsby” coming up, and we doubt the two will stop being best bros because of this – so you can expect Maguire to be receiving an invite to the film’s red carpet premiere ahead of its November 21st release, and expect another big bump in the profile of Rafe Spall.