By Fred Topel | Image property of Columbia Pictures.
Spider-Man villains don't get to just put on costumes and scream at each other. There's always some complicated visual effect. Whether it's Green Goblin flying around, Dock Ock hovering with his tentacles or Sandman dissolving at will, it's as technical a job as it is emotional. Covered with a costume in addition to black goo flowing over him at will, Topher Grace had bring personality to the ultimate special effect.
Topher's Venomous Relationship in Spider-Man 3
"The best thing about what Sam [Raimi] does is he’s an actor’s director which is easier said than done in a huge budget movie like this," said Grace. "You would never know that you were in this huge blockbuster the way he directs you and I think he got a lot of it out of me. I was actually surprised when I was watching the film that it was so moving at certain points. Most of the time directors can’t wait to get to the big action scene but he’s just the opposite. Obviously he’s really good at those action scenes, but the way he works with his actors, he cares about every little nuance. It was an amazing experience working with someone who can balance those two things. I don’t know if I’ll ever be that lucky again."
Both for his physical presence and practical ability to handle the work, Grace had to bulk up to play Eddie Brock/Venom. "It might surprise you all to learn that I had never actually worked out before. The minute the film wrapped I quit. They told me at the first meeting that it’s going to be really intense, the suit’s going to be intense and the fangs and they’re going to put you up on wires. Six months before I hit the gym with this guy named Duffy who trains Brad Pitt and also helped train Tobey on the first one. It was two hours a day, six days a week. It was crazy."
That sounds about normal for Hollywood workouts. "But what really surprised me was that wasn’t so hard. He’s a nice guy and it was kind of fun. But the eating really, first of all, I thought gain weight, alright, Krispy Kreme. You have to gain a specific kind of weight so it’s really kind of boring, protein-filled meals and shakes and it’s eating past the point of being full. That part for me was really hard and just something to get used to. I’m actually glad I started it well before the film so I could just concentrate on that and then it was kind of second nature when I was doing the film."
Venom is kind of like the alternate Spidey, using the same powers for personal gain. Brock is a competing photographer at the Daily Bugle but he cheats to get ahead. In fact, you think he's Gwen Stacy's love interest but she doesn't even actually know him.
"That was a thing that came late to the film. I love that. You kind of plant all these seeds like ‘Oh, I guess they’re together’ and then like ‘They’re not. What’s going on?’ But I love that. Look, everyone will see the previews to these movies. You can’t avoid the previews, but if they didn’t see the previews, I think you might actually think I’m a good guy at the beginning which I love. I just love roles where you can play lots of different notes."