The Real Reason Tobey Maguire Almost Had To Pass On Spiderman 2

If you grew up in the early 2000s, there's a chance you've either heard of or actively watched the first Tobey Maguire-led "Spider-Man" film. The movie, which initially premiered in 2002, has been cherished by Marvel fans for over 20 years. But along with its state of the art action sequences, Maguire's performance has also been praised by critics and viewers alike. In a review from Rotten Tomatoes, the website described the actor as the "heart" of the film. Due to the first film's massive success, Sony announced that a sequel was in development with Maguire attached.

With all the cogs in motion, production for "Spider-Man 2" started in 2003 and was released the following year. Like its predecessor, the film premiered to critical acclaim, with the actor receiving praise for his performance as the web-slinger. But before its monumental release, there were rumors a different actor would take the lead role of Peter Parker.

Tobey Maguire's bad back sparked concern

In between filming for "Spider-Man" and "Spider-Man 2," Tobey Maguire signed on to play the Canadian racer John Red Pollard in the biopic "Seabiscuit". According to reports at the time, the "Pleasantville" actor had suffered injuries to his back during the film's production. The severity of his injuries reportedly affected his ability to perform in the highly anticipated Spidey sequel. But alongside the actor's back trouble, a report from Variety suggested that Maguire was using his back pain to request a pay increase along with other demands. Due to the uncertainty of the situation, the publication said that Sony executives were in talks of replacing Maguire with Jake Gyllenhaal — who was romantically linked to the film's other star Kristen Dunst.

However, Maguire said the situation was "blown out of proportion," per Moviehole. "It's not true that I was fired. Basically, I had some concerns, as did the studio, because the level of stunts are so much greater on the second picture than the first," he said. He then went on to say that due to his concerns, he underwent tests to make sure his back was fit for filming.

The film's director, Sam Rami, seemed to echo similar sentiments to Maguire during a 2004 interview with Variety. "I was told that his back was in such a state that if it got injured anymore, it could maybe lead to paralysis," he told the publication. After passing his tests, Maguire officially returned to his role as the titular character.

Jake Gyllenhaal clears the air on casting drama

Even Jake Gyllenhaal has spoken out against those 2003 recast rumors. In an interview with Yahoo Studios, he was asked about his potential involvement in "Spider-Man 2" to which he responded: "I heard the same thing. The truth of the matter is, in the end, he's Spider-Man. There are so many roles in my career where I was up against another actor, or something happened that possibly could've happened." He also went on to say, "But yeah, he hurt himself, and there was talk. And there was a slew of actors [possibly up for the part], and I was one of them." Even though Gyllenhaal never portrayed the famous web-head, he did appear in "Spider-Man: Far From Home" as the villain Mysterio.

Casting drama aside, here's a little fun fact: Maguire's Peter Parker also suffered back pain throughout the expansive series. In "Spider-Man 2," his character dealt with the loss of his powers. When trying to reactivate his abilities, he jumped off the roof of a building and famously said the line "I'm back" before plummeting to the ground. When he stood up, he said, "my back, my back," before limping away.

But that wasn't the end of the "bad back" jokes. Before the final battle in "Spider-Man: No Way Home" film, Maguire's Peter is seen stretching along a pipe. Andrew Garfield's Peter then asked if he was okay, to which the first Spider-Man responded, per Elite Daily: "My back it's kind of stiff from all the swinging, I guess." Ha!