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GRACE, TOPHER – SPIDER-MAN 3

PLAY ACTING
Acting in front of a green screen encourages the child in you to engage your imagination as if you were playing, Topher Grace explains to Andrew L. Urban, as he enjoys spruiking his latest two-faced role as Eddie/Venom in Spider-Man 3.


Unlike most actors, Topher Grace finds it easier to perform for the cameras in front of a blue screen, as he had to do in his latest role in Spider-Man 3, the blockbusting new comic book action adventure. He plays Eddie, a friend’s of Peter Parker’s, who is turned into Peter’s super-powerful enemy, Venom, when some dark alien substance invades him – after it had attacked Spider-Man.

"sheer imagination"

“On the first day of shooting,” he recalls during his promotional visit to Sydney last week, “we were shooting against the blue screen and Sam [Raimi, director] was telling me to imagine the black goo dropping onto my arm … and there I was squirming and jiggling with imaginary goo … and I heard sniggering from the crew, ‘cause it does look very funny. But it was just like when you play as a kid … pure pretend. And it gets you to the root of acting; sheer imagination. Then of course they’ll make everything in my imagination come true with effects. It was great to have to bring myself back to kids’ age …”

And Topher is still having fun, at the end of a 22 day, 9-country promotional tour. “It’s not like we’re digging holes in the road,” he says, sitting back comfortably in a swish hotel suite overlooking the Sydney Opera House.

Topher was christened Christopher, “but in the US kids like to shorten your name to single syllables, so I’d be greeted with Hi, Chris – and I’d add …topher. Pretty soon they were calling me Topher, or even Toph …” His mum still prefers Christopher …

Made famous as the gangly and funny teen, Eric Forman, in That 70s Show (which actually ran from 1998), Topher had several opportunities to make a so called ‘hiatus movie’ during the summer breaks of the series, but he could never find a script he wanted to take on. “I might even like to watch some of them, but to spend three months making them …” he shrugs. He was fussy. That is until he was offered the role of Seth Abrahms in Steven Soderbergh’s world wide hit, Traffic (2000). In the following three years he made Mona Lisa Smile, Win a Date with Tad Hamilton and In Good Company, which earned him the National Board of Review’s Breakthrough Performance by an Actor Award (2004).

Spider-Man gave him an opportunity to connect with his childhood in a direct way. It was comic book master illustrator Todd McFarlane who had engaged Topher’s imagination as a kid growing up around New York. “Oh yeah… I was Super Christopher a lot of the time…. When I was asked about this role in Spider-Man I said yes – which I shouldn’t have as it was even before we’d negotiated my salary. But the truth is, I’d have paid Sam Raimi to be in the movie,” he says with a grin.

"satisfaction and enjoyment"

But then came the hard work: nine months of training to get in physical shape for the character, and daily four hours in make up. “The satisfaction and enjoyment came later,” he says, “like at the world premiere in Japan, when I was watching it with Tobey Maguire … we were high fiving each other. It doesn’t get more fun than this.”

Published May 17, 2007
 

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Topher Grace

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Topher Grace... in Spider-man 3







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