LOS ANGELES - Tobey Maguire says he and his big-screen alter-ego, Spider-Man, "have very different lives."
Still, both are caught in the same web of uncertainty: what next?
Next Friday's release of Spider-Man 3 raises as many questions as it answers for the web-slinging hero and the actor behind him.
Is the Spidey franchise finished? Will Maguire sign on for a fourth installment? Will Peter Parker propose to Mary Jane? How will fatherhood and marriage affect Maguire's future? What roles lie ahead after superhero success?
"Everything's in transition for me," says the actor, sitting in a plush suite at Beverly Hills' Four Seasons Hotel. "My friendships, where I want to live."
And his work. After playing Spider-Man for six years, and fitting in Seabiscuit and The Good German in between, the 31-year-old star is looking at a wide-open calendar. His top priority is spending time with his fiancee, Jennifer Meyer, and their 5-month-old daughter, Ruby Sweetheart. But workwise?
"I don't have any specific ideas," he says, looking sharp in a gray suit, white shirt and Hollywood stubble. "I want to work in all types of movies. I don't care the size of the movie. I want to work in different genres and different types of films. It just all depends on scripts and directors."
He's not ruling out another adventure with Spider-Man and its three-time director, Sam Raimi. But he's not ruling it in, either.
"If there's a script I love, if the character goes in directions that I think would be great, and if Sam's involved and the right cast is there, then I would consider it at that point," Maguire says, adding that it could take years to develop a script for Spider-Man 4.
"I think they would love for Sam to do it, so we'll just see."
As far as Raimi is concerned, there is no other Peter Parker besides Maguire. He cast the actor after seeing him in The Cider House Rules.
"What I saw within his performance was a sensitivity and a vulnerability that I felt the character had to have," Raimi recalls. "There was an outcry at the time that he was wrong, that he was never going to be Peter Parker. But I was never bothered by that. Because although I'm a very insecure person, I was very confident I knew the character, knew who he was, and that these people were thinking of some hero called Spider-Man. And that the real heart of Spider-Man was this kid behind the mask. That's what I was going to make this movie about."