“The Amazing Spider-Man” swings into theaters in July 2012 and actor Rhys Ifans will play the film’s main menace, Dr. Curt Connors, a.k.a. the Lizard, a laboratory creation that is both scary and scaly. The 44-year-old native of Wales was in the news today: The Wrap reported that San Diego prosecutors won’t pursue a misdemeanor battery charge against him for allegedly shoving a guard just before his on-stage appearance at Comic-Con International (through a spokesman the actor has said he “deeply regretted” the incident). Our Geoff Boucher sat down with Ifans in San Diego (about an hour before the Comic-Con kerfuffle) and we’ll be posting parts of the interview in the weeks to come.
GB: Marc Webb was a surprise pick to direct this film — his only other feature was “(500) Days of Summer” — but he has some bold ideas for taking Spider-Man into new areas on screen. How was the shoot for you and working with Webb?
RI: The shoot was phenomenal. It was a dream come true really. A franchise that has such gravitas as this — it’s all eyes on you — and what Marc has done is very exciting. Not to be disparaging to the other movies at all but they were kind of going a certain way and Marc has rolled it back to its delicate, human domesticity. Spider-Man is a working-class hero. He’s an everyman. And I think Marc as a director and Andrew in his performances are doing special — we’re reclaiming the poetry of the hero and of the story.
GB: The best Marvel villains have shadings of tragedy to their story and persona. They’re not simple mustache-twirling bad guys. That’s reflected in this new version of the Lizard I would imagine…
RI: Absolutely, Curt Connors is by no stretch an evil villain. He’s not like the Batman villains, like the Joker, who are the embodiment of evil. Curtis Connors is a great man who makes a bad decision. That’s the whole magic of the Spider-Man idea. These people are the embodiment of our flaws and our desires that lead to tragedy. Curt Connors is a man with one arm and he wants to grow his arm back. He has access to a science that can enable that. But he has to make a moral decision, an ethical decision, to achieve that. In a story both he and Peter Parker are presented with these amazing abilities, and it’s about this gift that life gives us. More than any other super-hero, Spider-Man presents us with something very local in its ethics. It’s not messianic. It’s far more tangible. He is, again, a working-class hero.
GB: Beyond comics, your role would seem to tap into that grand tradition of characters who go too far to tamper with nature or science, such as Dr. Frankenstein or Dr. Jekyll…
RI: Absolutely. It’s the human condition in flux — in physical flux but in moral and emotional flux as well. The teenage state, interestingly, is a state of flux too, it’s riddled with hormones and change, and Spider-Man more than any other hero is a metaphor for puberty. I feel bad for him. I’d never want to get my first [erection] in that costume. But you have a hero and a villain in flux and not all of it is science fiction.
– Geoff Boucher
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