Maguire's latest role reveals acting's newest
Updated 12:00 PM ET February 28, 2000
By Terry Tang
U. California-Los Angeles
(U-WIRE) LOS ANGELES -- Although author/professor
Grady Tripp, the fallible hero of Paramount Pictures' "Wonder
Boys," smokes pot, loves a woman who's not his wife and hasn't
published a bestseller in seven years, he is still the greatest
mentor young James Leer ever had.
In reality, rising actor Tobey Maguire, who plays the withdrawn
but precocious college student to Michael Douglas's professor,
also felt the time working with Douglas was well spent. Simply
going to the set with Douglas every day provided a challenge.
"He had so many ideas, idea after idea and it was all I could do
just to keep up," Maguire said in a telephone interview. "He also
made me have a lot of fun because he was very engaging. If I
was a little tired because I had a 6 a.m. call, he was there
on-time, prepared and would pull me out of my sleepiness. If I
was a little intimidated by a scene, he would just pick it up and
help me right along."
"The Wonder Boys" will surely remind moviegoers and critics
that Maguire is on his way to making Hollywood's A-list of
With choice roles in films such as Ang Lee's "The Ice Storm,"
Woody Allen's "Deconstructing Harry" and "Pleasantville," he
has achieved a wonder boy status of his own.
Maguire, however, shows no signs of slowing down. It also
helps that he's still onscreen as Homer Wells in "The Cider
House Rules," which is up for seven Academy Awards,
including Best Picture.
While Maguire is ecstatic about the film's acknowledgment, he
still isn't sure if he will hit the red carpet on Oscar night to cheer
for "Cider House."
"I haven't given that much thought. If I knew, I'd let you know,"
Besides Douglas, Maguire also gets to hold his own on the
screen with Robert Downey Jr., who has been called one of the
greatest actors of his generation.
Despite his personal struggles with drugs, Downey still maintains
a great rapport with his acting colleagues. "I love Robert. He's
fantastic, one of the quickest people. He's got a really sharp wit
and he's really giving," said Maguire, who tries to keep in touch
with Downey. "We'd hang out and play racquetball. I'd talk to
him about my life and he'd be very helpful. He's just a great guy."
For "Wonder Boys," the actor knew he wanted to be a part of
the movie as soon as he finished reading the character of James
"This script in particular was phenomenal. I think Steve Kloves
wrote such a great, delicate script. It's just layered and the
character was so attractive because he had so much stuff going
on," Maguire said. "I thought he would be fun to play. He's got a
lot of pain going on. I think he's a good kid."
While Maguire has made a career out of playing social misfits,
he sees himself as a lot more outgoing than his character.
"I suppose in certain situations, I can be guarded. James and I
are not that much alike though I relate to some of the things. He
has trust problems. I can relate to some of that stuff," Maguire
said. "He really has a tough time socially and really lives in his
own, sort of imaginary, dramatic world. So, we're quite a bit
At 24, Maguire has certainly come a long way from a little kid
who wanted to be either a cook, a fireman or a lawyer. He first
got bitten by the acting bug when at 16, while he was acting in a
school play and had gotten a part in a movie. "I was reading an
acting book or two at that time, and I just started getting excited
about it and saw that it was a place you could really learn for a
long time and not get bored and maybe do well," Maguire said.
"That's when I really made it my own."
Having the opportunity to interact with a diverse group of actors
and filmmakers is certainly one reason why Maguire doesn't rue
his decision to forego college. "I'm not gonna waste my time
regretting what I've done in my life. Because if I had gone to
college, I wouldn't have done other things with my life," Maguire
explained. "So, certainly sometimes I feel the lack of that kind of
formal education in my life. But I wouldn't trade what I've done
with my life for anything."
What the actor does have is a free schedule. Since wrapping
"Wonder Boys," Maguire hasn't read any scripts that have
stirred his interests. "I'm just kind of looking. I wanted a break.
So I consciously kind of took a break and I told my
agent-manager, 'Hey, let's try to keep me out of it for a little
while.' But I'm ready to go back to work now."
Finding more work shouldn't be a problem for this wonder boy.
(C) 2000 Daily Bruin via U-WIRE
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