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Maguire unsure for 'Spider-Man' sequel

Actor suffering from bad back

Maguire as Spidey
Tobey Maguire might not be able to do the "Spider-Man" sequel.

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LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters) -- He may still have radioactive blood at the box office, but a bad back could end up derailing Tobey Maguire's return as "Spider-Man."

Maguire, who became a Hollywood titan starring in last year's top-grossing movie as the web-slinging Marvel Comics superhero, may be replaced in the "Spider-Man" sequel by the real-life boyfriend of his on-screen love interest, Kirsten Dunst, Daily Variety reported in its Tuesday editions.

Maguire's spokeswoman told the entertainment trade paper the actor is still healing from "mild discomfort in his back" brought on by physically demanding roles in his last two films.

Maguire finished production on the original stunt-heavy "Spider-Man" in April 2001, then went to work 18 months later on "Seabiscuit," portraying jockey Red Pollard. That four-month shoot wrapped last month, Variety said.

The question now is whether he will be well enough to reprise his role as the teenage geek transformed by the bite of a radioactive spider in time to begin production on "The Amazing Spider-Man" sequel project.

"With an April 12 start date around the corner, everyone involved wants to be certain he is able to do the intense stunts," his spokeswoman said in a statement.

In line to don Peter Parker's red-and-blue tights if Maguire isn't fit to swing from skyscrapers again is actor Jake Gyllenhaal, who happens to be dating Dunst and who recently starred in the films "Moonlight Mile" and "The Good Girl."

Because of scheduling conflicts, it would be hard to delay production on the "Spider-Man" sequel to give Maguire more time to recover, Variety said.

The film originally was slated to begin shooting in January but was pushed to April so that Maguire could complete work on "Seabiscuit." In addition, Dunst, reprising her role as "Spider-Man" heroine Mary Jane Watson, is slated to begin production this summer on her next project, the tennis film "Wimbledon."

In any event, "The Amazing Spider-Man" remains on a tight schedule to make the May 7, 2004, release date set by distributor Columbia Pictures, a unit of Sony Corp., Variety said.

Questions about Maguire's fitness to return as Spider-Man for the sequel come only a month after his agents renegotiated a career-best $17 million salary for the actor, more than four times what he earned for the original "Spider-Man" film, Variety said. "Spider-Man" was the highest-grossing movie of 2002, generating worldwide ticket sales of $800 million, according to the entertainment trade paper.



Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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