Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that actors are human too. Thanks to the magic of editing, we don’t often see the mistakes they make or the lines they flub. In fact, one of the main reasons why outtakes, gag reels and bloopers are usually so well-liked is because they give us that chance to see actors at their most human. When you have to pull off a tricky stunt in just the right, there are a lot of takes that wind up on the cutting room floor. Such was the case for Tobey Maguire in 2002’s Spider-Man.
As you might recall, in the cafeteria scene early into the film, there is a moment where Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is getting adjusted to his brand new Spidey powers. And he harbors a secret/not-so-secret crush on Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst).
In a moment of vulnerability, Mary Jane slips on some spilled juice (where’s the janitor when you need them?) and she’s about to crash onto the floor and have her lunch fall all over her face. But thankfully, Peter’s Spidey senses are alerted, he catches the girl and, in one fell swoop, catches all the items that were on her tray. He makes it look completely graceful, but that is far from the truth.
As it was noted by The Independent, this scene with Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst in the school cafeteria didn’t come together quite as neatly as it did in the final product. Indeed, it took a lot of takes in order to get it right. And we’re not taking five, or 10, or 20, or even 40. We’re talking David Fincher/Stanley Kubrick-level takes.
That’s right, this memorable scene required 156 takes in total in order for this shot to be wrapped. And the reason is because this special shot was created without any CG effects at all. Yep, it was all real and practical. As you can expect, it’s not-so-easy for a mere mortal like Tobey Maguire to do what Spider-Man can so naturally.
This information was explained on Spider-Man‘s DVD commentary by John Dykstra, the head of the VFX team for the film and a special effects artist. In a pretty cheeky way, Dykstra admitted that it wasn’t ultimately special effects that brought this shot to life.