Publicity still from the upcoming Warner Bros. film ‘The Great Gatsby.’
Tobey Maguire. A mighty fine actor to be sure, and one I’ve admired in myriad films from Spider-Man to The Cider House Rules to Seabiscuit to The Ice Storm. Now, say the unthinkable happens and Mr. Maguire parts ways with Hollywood for some reason (e.g. he quits the biz, spontaneously combusts, gets marooned on a deserted island). Who will rise up and continue his legacy?
Well, fear not, because I’ve compiled a shortlist of five actors who, for various reasons, are firmly in touch with their inner Tobey…
An unthinkable situation similar to the above actually did occur back in 2003. Plagued by a nagging back injury, Tobey was possibly required to hang up his Spidey suit for good. The fellow tapped to replace him? None other than Jake Gyllenhaal. An inspired choice to be sure, especially given that Tobey and Jakey look eerily alike (they even went on to co-star in the very solid 2009 film Brothers, where they played, uh, brothers). Fortunately for T-Bone (my new nickname for Tobey), the ol’ lower lumbar aligned itself just in time, ensuring the Spider-Man torch didn’t need to be passed.
Or perhaps I should say the torch didn’t need to be passed until Andrew Garfield came along. Yes, after three films and jillions of dollars at the box office, our friendly neighbourhood Spider-franchise needed a reboot. Hot off his critically acclaimed turn in The Social Network, Andrew became the no-brainer replacement. Why? ‘Cause just like Tobey, he’s skinny, soft-spoken, smart, sensitive and spry. He’s Spidey, baby. Or should I say, he’s Tobey? (Yes, I should.)
Before she was the high-strung new girl in, uh, New Girl, Zooey Deschanel was, for all intents and purposes, Tobey Maguire. Not just because they both have those big innocent eyes that make you want to protect them from crocodiles and terrorists. But also because their physical mannerisms and vocal cadences were so incredibly, precisely similar. The basic gist: understated, laid back movements coupled with a muted, low-key line delivery. Check out this scene from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and tell me Zooey D. doesn’t come across as
Toobey’s Tobey’s long-lost twin sister.
Elijah and Tobey were in The Ice Storm together. They didn’t play the same character though, which is dumb because they’re more or less the same guy. Same height, same build, similar features. Could Tobey have been Frodo in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Ring or whatever it was called? Heck yes! Could Elijah have been that kid from Pleasantville whose name escapes me at the moment? Don’t even act like you don’t know the answer! (the answer is ‘yes.’) These gents are like a human shell game, only one where the outcome is a guaranteed win every time. For us, the viewer, is my point.
Let’s face facts: as Tobey Maguire as the above folks are, nobody is more Tobey Maguire than Tobey Maguire. He’s the go-to guy, the gold standard. And if Tobey were to suddenly be expunged from Tinseltown, one can only hope Tobey would be the first choice to fill his shoes. Some critics toss the occasional dig his way, saying T-Mags doesn’t sufficiently explore his range; that he’s this same in every film. It’s the same argument levied against fellow A-listers George Clooney and Owen Wilson. To this I say, if you’re looking for chameleonic actors, there are plenty of excellent Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt films to go around. But if you’re seeking out one of the great ‘less-is-more’ performers in the biz, look no further than Tobey Magure.
Unless he’s, uh, not available, in which case go for somebody else on this list.