Tobey Maguire smokes a cigar
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By Jamie Allen
TORONTO (CNN) -- For the first half of the 1999 Toronto International Film Festival, "Tobey Maguire" and "festival it boy" were interchangeable terms.
The 24-year-old American actor stars in two large-scale productions that played at the fest -- "Ride With the Devil," directed by Ang Lee, and "The Cider House Rules," Lasse Hallström's adaptation of the John Irving 1985 bestseller (Irving also wrote the screenplay). The films are to be released in the fall, meaning that Maguire's popularity should outlive the festival, which closes Saturday.
Maguire's latest roles are both coming-of-age tales, with his characters struggling to take -- and eventually win -- control of their lives despite unusual challenges. In "Cider House," Maguire plays orphan Homer Wells, the lead character in Irving's sweeping novel which touches on life and death, love and betrayal, abortion and incest.
Set in 1930s and '40s Maine, Wells sets out from the orphanage that raised him to find his own life at an apple plantation. While living with workers in a clapboard cider house, he's challenged by real-world possibilities and traumas, eventually accepting his existence. Maguire is joined in the film by Charlize Theron, Delroy Lindo, Michael Caine and Paul Rudd.
In Lee's Civil War drama "Ride With the Devil," he plays a young Missouri bushwhacker fighting for the South. Skeet Ulrich, Jeffrey Wright and singer-actress Jewel also star. But it's Maguire's character who confronts issues of racism and slavery, befriending a black man who's fighting for "the cause" out of loyalty to his former master.
Both Lee and Hallström praise Maguire's work.
"Tobey's a dream," says Lee, who also directed Maguire in 1997's "The Ice Storm." "He's a very talented actor, a rare talent, I would say."
"His ability to really stay low-key with his performance and just trust instincts of staying emotionally in the moment," says Hallström, "you'd think a young actor like him would want to show off a little. I admire and respect his trust throughout the shooting of 'Cider House.'"
Maguire sat down at the Toronto festival for an interview in a suite at the Park Hyatt Hotel. With steady rain falling against an open window of the room, Maguire -- wearing a white T-shirt and black pants -- smoked a Cuban cigar and talked about his upcoming films, fame and how he's often not what he appears to be.
CNN: Cigar smoker, huh?
Maguire: One or two a year.
CNN: But you won't be on the cover of Cigar Aficionado ... although they'd probably love to have you ...
Maguire: I'm sure, why not?
CNN: ... now that your career is taking off.
(Maguire re-lights his cigar.)
CNN: I spoke with you yesterday in a "Ride With the Devil" roundtable and we kidded you about being the festival "it boy," and you kind of rolled your eyes. It doesn't seem like this whole fame game is something you take too seriously. Is that right?
Maguire: I don't know. I just show up to support the movie. And you know -- I mean people create labels or say things that really have nothing to do with anything that's necessarily in reality. It's just people's assessments or judgments or catch phrases and it's fine. It doesn't really bother me. I'm just here to support the films, something that is totally different from what my reality is.
CNN: Talk a little about the production of "Cider House Rules" -- you said you were happy to get away from the demanding production of "Ride With the Devil," and then you went to film "Cider House." It was a different experience?
Maguire: I was just exhausted on "Ride With the Devil." I didn't even want to work at all, but Lasse is so unbelievable a filmmaker and when we hooked up and talked about the character and the movie he got me so excited about it that I had to do it. We shot in Massachusetts and Vermont and Maine. You know, it was a movie set.
CNN: Gorgeous country.
CNN: My family used to go to Maine during the summer. Watching the film made me want to go back.
(Maguire pours water.)
CNN: What was it like working with ("Cider House" co-star and former supermodel) Charlize Theron?
Maguire: It was great. I had known Charlize a few years. And you know, she's cool, man. She's funny and professional and a great sense of humor. So, it's nice.
CNN: Lasse said that you had pushed to get Delroy Lindo to be in the role as Mr. Rose.
Maguire: Yeah, they were already interested in him. Obviously he's a fantastic actor. As far as I saw, he's the only person for Mr. Rose. You know, I think he's such a great actor, and I was very excited to work with him, and I definitely said to them, "Do whatever you can to convince him to do the movie."
CNN: You had just seen his work, but never met him?
CNN: What was it like first meeting him, after enjoying his work for so long?
Maguire: It was fine. I just met him, you know. I was excited to get to work. He's phenomenal, such a hard worker, classy guy, so much power as an actor.
CNN: His face ... it's very expressive.
(Maguire blows smoke from his cigar.)
CNN: Do you agree?
Maguire: Yeah, I don't know what you're saying exactly. I mean he's a very interesting-looking guy.
CNN: Is there one story from the production that was funny or ridiculous? For instance, with "Ride With the Devil," you told us how sick you were during the filming of one scene. You were riding a horse, and as soon as you got off camera you'd lie down on the ground. Was there anything like that from "Cider House"?
Maguire: I'm sure there is but I can never answer those kind of questions. It's just too much information for me to scroll through.
CNN: What do you do in your spare time?
Maguire: See movies, hang out with friends.
CNN: You have any hobbies?
Maguire: I like to play board games. Backgammon is a good game. I love to play basketball. Nothing too out of the ordinary.
CNN: Are you going to take a break from filmmaking?
Maguire: I'm going to take a little break. I did another film this year called "The Wonder Boys." Now I'm kicking back and I'll work when something great comes along.
CNN: You've been acting since you were 13?
Maguire: Thirteen, 14.
CNN: Is it nice to be at this point where you've made some strong films and now you can kind of pick and choose parts?
Maguire: I've always been pretty choosy. Regardless if I could or not, I've always felt like I could be or I would or whatever. You know, I don't know. That sort of is a strange question because I just live my life as a process and I'll talk to an interviewer and they come in on a certain moment or something. But I'm constantly living my life so I'm always either kicking back or picking and choosing or working or whatever. So yeah, it was nice now and it was nice four years ago. Someone asked me the same question four years ago. So, you know ... .
CNN: It must get old to go on all these junkets and to festivals and get asked the same questions.
Maguire: Well, I'll tell you, with these films I just think they're phenomenal movies and I'm glad to support them. I'm really behind them, and glad to be associated with them and the people involved. I'm happy to do whatever I can to support them.
CNN: That's part of the job, too.
Maguire: I guess so.
CNN: You were in "Pleasantville" last year -- any plans to work with director Gary Ross or Ang or Lasse again?
Maguire: I have no plans to work whatsoever.
CNN: What are you going to be doing when you're 40 years old -- have you ever thought about whether you might still be acting or writing or what?
Maguire: I have no idea. I think tomorrow I'm getting on a flight to leave Toronto, but that could change too.
CNN: Day to day.
Maguire: I could sit here and think about stuff like that, but surely it will change by the time I get there. So how much of my time do I want to occupy with those kind of thoughts? It would end up being sort of a waste.
CNN: It's interesting you say that, because there are some successful people who sit down and map out their career. And then there are guys like you who have, I guess it's natural talent that carries you and you don't really focus on a five-year plan or anything like that.
Maguire: Well, I have goals you know. I want to be able to work and have a wide variety of opportunities and it's important to me to work with good people and to have options. My point is just that I couldn't say what I'm going to be doing when I'm 40.
CNN: It's an easy question for a journalist to ask.
Maguire: I mean, if I'm still acting I would love to be in a position to work with the best people. I'm sure you could say what you would like if you continue in your field and if something else happens then it does.
CNN: What do you make of the whole cult of celebrity -- does it bother you? Are you recognized when you walk down the street?
Maguire: Not really ... you know, it's a strange thing. I just think it's strange. But it's nice to be associated with good projects and people are usually like, when they come to talk to me, they appreciate the films I've been in or something like that. It's nice in that way. Sometimes someone will interrupt me when I'm in the middle of a conversation or eating and that's kind of strange. I don't really like that. But whatever.
CNN: That's the price, huh?
Maguire: I suppose.
CNN (looking outside at the rainy weather): I think that's about all the questions I have. That is some crappy weather out there.
Maguire: I don't mind it, really.
CNN: No? You like rain?
CNN: You're cautious about your answers because if you say, 'Yes, I love rain,' then you're worried about me going and writing ...
Maguire: ... "Tobey loves the rain!" No, it's not that I love rain. It's just that when I was crossing the street from that hotel to this hotel it felt kind of nice. Because I hate to give statements like that because it's not necessarily true. I want to be honest and represent myself in a truthful way and journalists or reporters, it seems to me, like to grab little catch phrases or something or have their own idea where they're going and almost try to lead you there.
CNN: That can be true. I think it might have to do with the short time frame that we're sitting here with you. So you have to be cautious -- that's what you do?
Maguire: It's about me wanting to portray myself honestly, to be as truthful as possible.
CNN: And it's difficult to step out on a limb and say something slightly different, like, "I smoke cigars."
Maguire: What does that mean anyway? I happen to be smoking a cigar right now, but that doesn't mean I smoke cigars. I'm smoking a cigar right now. Maybe I never will again and maybe I've only had two cigars in the past year, which is about the case. You know, someone would put in the headline, "Tobey's a cigar smoker" and it totally misrepresents me.
CNN: Are you celebrating something?
Maguire: Someone gave the cigar to me and I'm leaving soon and it's a Cuban and I don't think I can take it into America, so ...
CNN: Well, cool. I appreciate your time. You've got two great films coming out.
Maguire: Thank you. Yeah, I'm excited man. I'm excited.
CNN: You're going to get a lot of attention.
Maguire: Yeah, we'll see.
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