* Movie hits North American theaters on July 3
* Director Webb says movie about Peter Parker's origins
* Spider-Man was Garfield's favorite superhero growing up
By John McCrank
NEW YORK, June 10 Every young boy dreams of
growing up to be a superhero.
For Andrew Garfield, that dream becomes a reality in the new
movie, "The Amazing Spider-Man," one of this summer season's
most-anticipated blockbusters. And while swinging through the
streets of New York as a teenage crime fighter was an adrenaline
rush, donning Spidey's famous blue-and-red suit has been
nerve-racking for the film's 26-year-old star.
"I am terrified to take on this role because it means so
much to me, so I know how much it means to other people,"
Garfield told reporters on Saturday at a press conference
promoting the film.
"The Amazing Spider-Man," which begins to weave its sticky
web in North American theaters on July 3, reboots the modern
movie franchise that began with 2002's "Spider-Man" starring
Tobey Maguire as the comic book crime fighter.
Over three films, the franchise amassed around $2.5 billion
in ticket sales, and for the fourth movie, its makers decided to
take a fresh look at the series, bring in a new director and
hire Garfield to replace Maguire, 36.
"Amazing Spider-Man" is big on action. But it also delves
into the origins of teenager Peter Parker, a.k.a. Spider-Man,
and tells of the superhero that 17-year-old Parker eventually
becomes, director Mark Webb told reporters.
Known for the romantic comedy "500 Days of Summer," Webb
said he wanted to tell Parker's origin story because the
character is a regular kid with normal problems that everyone
can relate to, but is able to stand up bullies who taunt him.
Webb also wanted to explore Parker's background as a child
who is abandoned by his parents and raised by his aunt and uncle
to open up other Spider-Man stories for future movies
"Spider-Man is a perennial character," Webb said. "It's not
like Harry Potter who has a closed canon. There is a 50-year
canon of Spider-Man comics."
A NEW 'WEB' FOR GARFIELD
The director said he cast "The Social Network" star Garfield
in the lead role because of his "emotional gravitas," "whimsy,"
and "incredible physical stamina ... all embodied in somebody
who would convincingly act like a teenager."
"Amazing Spider-Man" is the first major action role for
Garfield, who was born in Los Angeles and raised in England, but
he has shown a wide range of acting skills already. He recently
wrapped his Tony-nominated role as Biff Loman in a Broadway
revival of Arthur Miller's classic play "Death of a Salesman."
To portray Parker, the actor turned to a book of photography
by Joseph Szabo, titled "Teenage," that illustrated the angst,
energy and need for expression he wanted to capture on film.
"It's tongue on tongue. It's just head out the window - that
need to express, that need to kick the walls down irrationally -
which when you combine that with being a superhero, that is kind
of exciting," Garfield said.
Emma Stone, 23, who has been linked romantically with
Garfield off-screen, portrays Parker's first love interest, Gwen
Stacy, in the movie. She said she tried to "unlearn" everything
she knows about love and relationships to prepare for her role.
"I wanted again to experience that feeling of first love,
before you know what it's like to get your heart completely
shattered," said Stone, whose previous movies include 2011
sensation "The Help" and comedy "Superbad."
Veteran actor, director and comedian Dennis Leary, who plays
Stacy's police captain father, said Garfield and Stone are "the
real deal" when it comes to their acting.
He recalled being pushed by Garfield in the first scene the
two filmed together, in which Captain Stacy is trying to
intimidate Peter Parker, to the point where director Webb
approached Leary with some candid advice.
"He just kneeled down next to me and he said, 'Hey, you
really have to step it up,'" Leary said.