Is This The SPIDER-MAN Shortlist?

Almost immediately after Sony Pictures squeezed Sam Raimi out of the Spider-Man franchise that the director launched for the studio at the beginning of the year, speculation began as to whom would replace star Toby Maguire in the title roll of a mild-mannered high school student who must learn to handle great responsibility after he receives great power from a radioactive spider bite.

The Hollywood Reporter has learned that the studio and incoming director Marc Webb have been meeting with many candidates. None of them have advanced to the screen test stage yet, but there certainly seem to be some front- runners in the pack. They are –

Jamie Bell – The British-born actor first burst on to screens at the age of 14 as the titular Billy Elliot in 2000. Since then, he has appeared in such indie fare as The Chumscruber (2005) and more Hollywood projects like Jumper (2008). Next year, he’ll be starring in Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson’s motion-capture CG animated The Adventures Of Tintin.

Alden Ehrenreich – According to the IMDb, Ehrenreich was “discovered” by Spielberg when he saw the young actor in a comedy video playing at his daughter’s friend bat mitzvah. Ehrenreich has parlayed that in to a couple of television appearances and a lead role in last year’s Frances Ford Coppola film Tetro.

Frank Dillane – This 19 year old actor has just two film credits on his resume – 1997’s Welcome To Sarajevo and last year’s Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince in which he played a young Tom Riddle.

Andrew Garfield – Garfield made a good impression on me earlier this year in Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium Of Dr. Parnassus. But he has been steadily building up an impressive resume over the last few years with appearances in the British television series Sugar Rush, the British Red Riding crime trilogy and landing a part in Aaron Sorkin’s upcoming movie about Facebook, The Social Network.

Josh Hutcherson – Although barely 18 years old, Hutcherson has the most impressive resume of this bunch with lead roles in Zathura, Bridge To Terabithia, Journey To The Center Of The Earth, the much buzzed about Sundance  film The Kids Are Alright and the upcoming Red Dawn remake.

Out of these five, I would say that Hutcherson and Ehrenreich are the two strongest contenders in my book. Being in their mid-20s, Bell and Garfield are both a bit old to fit in to the studio’s mandate that this new Spider-Man film moves the character back to his high school student roots. While Dillane fits the age range for the character, I just don’t remember him making much of an impression in his Harry Potter role. Ehrenreich doesn’t have much more of a profile, but he has the cache of Spielberg and Coppola behind him. Hutcherson has the most experience out of the group. While he is signed to do the upcoming Journey To The Center Of The Earth sequel, I am sure that the two productions can work out a schedule to allow him to appear in both.

Currently Webb is readying the Spider-Man reboot to start shooting by the end of the year. Writer Alvin Sargent is currently putting a polish on the screenplay.

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About Rich Drees 7059 Articles
A film fan since he first saw that Rebel Blockade Runner fleeing the massive Imperial Star Destroyer at the tender age of 8 and a veteran freelance journalist with twenty-five years experience writing about film and pop culture. He is a member of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle.
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May 27, 2010 11:48 am