He's the Real Maguire

He's the real Maguire

Cider House Rules star perched on the edge of fame


NEW YORK -- Mention his buddy Leonardo DiCaprio, and Tobey Maguire gets a little tongue-tied. Maguire isn't shy, just reserved about his opinions on how fame affects his friend and himself. "I'm not, uh, in a hurry to be, uh, y'know, famous," Maguire says in a shy stammer at a mid-Manhattan hotel. "I'm only 24. I'm not worrying about it."

He might be pacing himself, but the rush is on to anoint Maguire as one of film's hot new stars. With the new millennium dawning today, Maguire stands out among the many candidates in the entertainment world on the verge of global fame. If you don't recognize him instantly now, odds are you will soon. That's thanks to his recent roles in The Ice Storm and Pleasantville, his featured role in October's Ride With The Devil, and now the lead in the film version of John Irving's The Cider House Rules, now playing in theatres.

In Cider House, Maguire plays Homer, the orphan child who becomes the man in search of his identity. Also starring are Michael Caine, Delroy Lindo, Charlize Theron and Paul Rudd. Typically, Maguire's 1930s period-piece portrayal is so subtle it almost disappears from the screen. "I told Lasse," he says of Cider House director Lasse Hallstrom, "I wanted to do this really small, and he let me." By all accounts, the low-key approach worked well. One of Maguire's fans is the veteran Caine, who plays a doctor and surrogate father to Homer in the picture. "Tobey is such a good actor, you can't see him doing it," reports Caine, who has written a few books on acting and is critical of the brash method school. "You just cannot see the machinery."

Caine's assessment comes as a major compliment to the L.A.-born actor, who debuted in a small role in 1993's This Boy's Life, which starred Robert De Niro and DiCaprio. A few misfires and missed opportunities followed. So did a mental slump when he turned 19. In 1997, the teenaged outsider role in The Ice Storm put him on the personal and professional recovery path, and on the must-get map for the "quietly nuanced, coming-of-age" portrayals. "But I'm open to any kind of part," Maguire says, "and I definitely want to challenge myself. "And, sure, that has been the perception, the subtle approach. My age has something to do with it. Some of it is coincidence, and perhaps some of it is how some people want to see me." He shrugs it off, then smiles as if he's reminded of something that applies.

"It's funny. Some of the Cider House studio people kept saying to Lasse, 'Do you think he's doing enough?' when they looked at the dailies. But that's how I want to bring people in." Maguire, in fact, likes things subdued in every way, professional and personal. "It's true," he says. "I really wouldn't want as much attention as Leo. I'd like to be famous for a couple of days then anonymous for the rest of the year."

He chuckles, raising both hands in the air, doing a mock surrender. "I know that's not how it works." In fact, Maguire keeps getting huge hints that show business tends to be a little higher-profile than he wants it to be. Like just the other day, when things got out of hand. He mentioned to his agent that he might want to do some theatre work, if the timing was right. He couldn't believe the reaction. " 'Oh well, then,' my agent said all excited, 'let's set up a Broadway run for you.' " Maguire shakes his head, recalling the over-reaction.

"I said, 'No. No. No. I was thinking Tulsa, Oklahoma -- for a few weeks.' "

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