Denis Leary never thought he would play a good guy, let alone a good guy in a Spider-Man movie. However, the comedian found himself a role in The Amazing Spider-Man as Captain George Stacy, the father of Gwen Stacy. As Stacy, Leary is also responsible for capturing Spider-Man, who he calls a masked vigilante. Leary was in town last month to promote the movie and I had the opportunity to participate in a roundtable with other writers in order to ask The Amazing Spider-Man co-star and comedian some questions.
How was the experience of the movie in general by being in this arena of Spider-Man, the history, Marvel and all this stuff?
Denis Leary: I love going to those types of movies. The problem with making action movies for the most part is that it is s–tload of work and not a lot of acting, but I spoke to Marc (Webb) before I read the script and he explained all about this character. I have seen his first movie (500) Days of Summer, so I was kind of interested about how this indie filmmaker guy is talking about this action thing like it was a character piece, than I read the script and I went “Oh, okay.” It was really like that every day, especially in the beginning because we had a week where we like rehearsed and went through the script with the four main characters. It really was like we were making a character piece that had a bunch of action in it in a certain point. Even in the final stuff in the movie, the big finale part, it took a long time to shoot. A big part of that were the emotions, the emotional arc and motivation and all this other stuff between me and Andrew. I thought it was great.
Have seen the other Spider-Man movies before?
Leary: Yeah. My wife is a huge fan of Spider-Man and my kids so I saw those. I’m more of a Batman guy myself so I seen them and I also the director of those, Sam Raimi, is an old, old friend of mine who was a friend of a guy I went to Emerson with. I kind of had a rooting interest in seeing a guy I knew do well, but I never thought about it. I am Batman guy. When I go to Batman movies, I always think “Man, I would like to be a bad guy in a Batman movie” especially as they got darker when they go to the Christian Bale era.
Did you ever try to audition for any of the Dark Knight movies?
No. I was so busy with Rescue Me for like 8 years. I couldn’t do anything else, but it was always in the back of my head that it would be a fun thing to do. I never thought “I would to be a good guy in a Spider-Man movie.” It’s not normally what I would cast as anyways. I’m more interested generally speaking in the bad guys to begin with. It was kind of weird that Marc called me about it.
You said you like Batman more than Spider-Man, but did you read Spider-Man as a kid?
Leary: No. Truly, I didn’t like Superman. I really like Batman. Not the TV show, but the dark Batman. I like Michael Keaton as Batman and now I really love the current iteration of it. That’s more my guy. Superman, I don’t know man. Yes he flies around and he’s the Man of Steel. Although, I have to say in this, I think it’s really interesting now seeing the way Garfield plays this guy like a real working class guy with some darker elements to it. He’s interesting because he’s the only guy is not a rich guy, he’s not a superhero, he’s like a normal guy.
You tend to play these characters like good guys, but they are really macho and tough. Do you feel like you identify more with these characters because you seem really happy and nice compared to characters you played.
Leary: I guess you get pigeon-holed in Hollywood, but I’m ok with that because I’ve been able to do a lot. I started in the theater then I went to stand-up comedy and then when I went into the movies to do comedy and drama and big movies and small movies. I loved it, but I was always attracted to the bad guy or the darker personalities anyways. The thing with Rescue Me was that for some people like Marc, it made them think I can play an authority figure. I don’t know man. To me, he’s a fireman, but we thought we were writing a show about an alcoholic, adrenaline-junkie. I know he is supposed to be a hero in his job, but he’s really a f—-d up guy. That’s just more fun to me. I don’t really have a lot of fun playing just straight good guys. It’s not my thing. It’s like Tom Hanks territory. I think Tom Hanks has done some great stuff and some of his best stuff is when he plays the really more f—-d-up dark stuff that he has done.
You have to be a gentle guy in the cramp scene.
Leary: Yes. I have a daughter who is almost the same age as Emma so that is like the powerlessness of being a father when you dealing with your daughter. You are completely at their mercy and that’s a universal fact, you know. (Emma) was great. A lot of that stuff was improvised. I come down the hallway and say something and she would come out and say something. It was early on. I have seen her in Zombieland and a couple of other things. (Emma and Andrew) are both unbelievably good and they are going to be around for a long time. They are not like shooting stars. They are really great actors. She was coming out of that room in character within what we were doing, not just to get laughs. I was like “F–k, I have to bring up my A game.” She is unbelievable.
You seemed generally uncomfortable.
Leary: It was completely unscripted because she gets to say whatever she wanted to when the door opened. I would come down and Marc would have an idea or I would have an idea about what I was going to say. The motivation was the same, but I wanted to spend a little time with her and maybe find out what’s going on in her room. She would just open the door and do something different every time to make me feel uncomfortable and to keep me from getting in the room. That PMS thing was just great. I think it was like the third or fourth take. I try to stay in character. You are always in character, but there is also part of you that is like aware what is going on. “F–k man. She is really good.” What a great thing to say. It was the perfect thing to say.
What was it that made this reboot essential – seeing how the original trilogy is still fresh in viewer’s minds?
Leary: It didn’t for me. Second of all, I don’t know. I guess the darker examination/portrayal thing seems really popular right now. I personally think the Batman thing got so much better when they went down that route. I haven’t seen the finished movie, but it would be up to the audience. I thought it was interesting because watching Andrew because he was so tortured playing the guy. And also, Rhys, that bad guy is a bad guy but you feel bad for him. You sympathize for him. I thought that was all really interesting stuff.
What was your favorite scene to shoot?
Leary: I really enjoyed shooting the end because I got to shoot that shotgun for three days. It was awesome and I never got to do a big death scene before where I actually die so that was pretty cool. My other favorite part was just really the beginning meeting and getting to know Emma, Rhys, Andrew and Marc as well because Rhys is one of the funniest human beings on the planet as a regular human being. He is like the kid in the back of the room who sits next to you and says all the really funny things, but nobody else can hear him. I really love that. It takes it right back to talking behind the nuns’ backs in grade school. That was really a lot of fun. He and I are about the same age. We’ve done a million movies and sort of remark what we watching. Most of it was “I can’t believe how f—–g talented these two f—–g kids are and how great they are going to be and how much we hate them.”
You said your kids are fan of Spider-Man. How do they feel about you starring in this movie?
Leary: It has been the first time I have been cool since they were 8 and 6. Kids just don’t think their parents are cool. They are not impressed by anything. They are a few people maybe, really famous people that I work with that their kind of like impressed by, but most of them, they’re not. They like Kevin Spacey, but they aren’t just impressed by Kevin as a human being because he has been around for too long. They seen him too much, but when they came to the set on a Christmas break and they saw Andrew and Emma. Of course, they were like “Oh my god. My dad isn’t lying. He’s working with these people.” That was cool thing number one, and then they got to come to L.A. and see me do some of the helicopter stuff. That day, my daughter said “Dad, that was really cool.” “You know what. I have been telling I’m cool.” I know I’m joking about it, but that was a big thing for me. Finally, I’m f***ing cool to these kids after I paid for all their s*** for them. If anything else happens with this movie, its gravy because it’s the first time they asked me to if they could come to a premiere. They have not interested in coming to premieres. It’s like the most embarrassing to be in the same picture with you in front of people in public. They were like “Can we come to the Spider-Man premiere and bring a couple of our cousins?” “I don’t know. Let me think about it. Maybe.” I got that out of it.
The Amazing Spider-Man opens today in Hialeah theaters. Click here for showtimes.