In the blockbuster “Spider-Man’’ franchise, peeling back the mask of the spandex-clad superhero and his angsty young alter-ego Peter Parker is a famously Herculean task. Likewise, trying to crack the carefully cultivated surface of Tobey Maguire, the 34-year-old star who brought to life the web-slinging crime-fighter, proves no less a difficult a chore.
While Maguire is warm and charming in person - he talks about his work with both earnestness and a winking irony - he’s not especially forthcoming about what makes him tick. In interviews, he fiercely protects his privacy, offering up few illuminating anecdotes. He’s an avowed vegan, finicky eater, and avid yoga practitioner. He quit drinking when he was 19 because he didn’t like immersing himself in altered states.
Yet for his latest role, in “Brothers,’’ which opens Friday, Maguire was forced to let loose. He plays Sam Cahill, a US soldier returned from the war in Afghanistan who’s grappling with the harrowing trauma he endured while held prisoner by Taliban fighters. The film examines the effects of this psychic damage on Sam, his wife (Natalie Portman), children, younger brother (Jake Gyllenhaal), and parents (Sam Shepard and Mare Winningham). The role required Maguire to play someone who is deeply regimented in his military and family life, but who loses his moral clarity and sense of self after being subjected to torture in captivity. Read More