MORE FROM SAN DIEGO: Arad, Ziskin, Dykstra and Molina on 'Spider-Man 2'

Wed, July 23rd, 2003 at 12:00am PDT

TV Film
Rob Worley, Columnist

On Saturday

afternoon, at Comic-Con International in San Diego, Sony Pictures showed

a clip from 'Spider-Man 2' and unveiled the first official Doctor Octopus

artwork. Laura Ziskin and Avi Arad took the stage to

answer fans questions:

From left:

John Dykstra, Alfred Molina and Avi Arad at Comic-Con

Laura Ziskin (LZ): We're so happy to be here. It seems like yesterday

that we were here with "Spider-Man 1", where we showed a clip from the

film for the very first time. So we have some footage for you today.

So that's the good news. I have some bad news. Our fearless leader Sam Raimi

is home with a 102 fever. The doctor refused to let him come

Avi Arad (AA): We are very excited to be here. Every year it doubles,

triples. All the power to you. We would not be here...and

successful...without you. So I want to thank you. You are the first community

ever to bring Hollywood to them.

There is no question that this thing is growing and it's out of control, just

looking at you...

We have a bigger, better movie. It feels like the family continues. The

voices are now so natural for Peter and M.J. and Harry and all the ones we won't

talk about. We are so proud because Sony pulled out all the stops. And what

you're going to see today is a just little bit of a window into the future of

just an amazing, fun-filled movie.


Molina is Doc Ock

LZ: I know that you're waiting for it, but Peter's back. M.J.'s back

and there's a new [villain] ladies and gentlemen, exclusively to Comic-Con

for the first time anywhere in the world, meet our new villain for 'Spider-Man


At this point a massive floor to ceiling banner of Alfred Molina as Doc Ock

was unfurled for the crowd, which greeted it with roaring applause. Ziskin then

introduced 'Spider-Man 2' effects supervisor John Dykstra.

John Dykstra (JD): Great villain, eh?

So, you guys are getting to see this character come to life for the first

time today. You're the very first ones, aside from those within the sacred

halls. One of the things that we asked you to remember, like all characters, Doc

Ock and his tentacles are learning their personality over the course of the

making of the film.

We think that he's gorgeous and he's coming along beautifully. Just remember

that this is a work in process and I think you'll be very excited and you'll be

very surprised how as to effective this character is when he comes to life on


LZ: I just want to reiterate that we're about two-thirds of the way

through a very long shoot, which is probably why Sam is sick in bed with a

fever, so these are very early visual effects. What you're going to see is the

birth of Doc Ock and all you need to know from your Spider-Man lore is, there's

been a little accident.

At this point they rolled the clip of a team of surgeons trying to separate

Octavius from the tentacles, which have become fused to his spine. Comics2Film

described the clip in detail in our update last Sunday morning. The crowd

reacted with great enthusiasm to the gripping segment.

Ziskin then introduced

actor Alfred Molina, who plays Ock in the movie and opened the floor for


Alfred Molina (AM): First of all, it's absolutely amazing to be here.

Thank you very much.

It's fantastic that there's this wonderful enthusiasm and love for not only

these characters but also the whole world of comic books and these fantastic

stories. It's great that we're here to enjoy it.

We're having a ball, frankly. We're having a great time. My only regret is

not bringing the tentacles with me. They're all divas, all four of them, and

they refused to make the trip to San Diego. But I didn't bring them with me.

It's great to be here and thank you very much for a wonderful welcome.

Q: I was wondering what exactly clenched your choice of Spider-Man

villains for this movie.

LZ: Why Doc Ock in this movie?

AA: I think Doc Ock is probably our most famous and

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interesting...What's most interesting about Doc Ock is that you can see his face

at all times, which is always for a director something you would like to have.

Doc Ock is a complicated character to compose physically, cinematically.

And I think, again, because of this community and the first movie was

successful, they said, 'Yeah, we can do Doc Ock.'

It's a combination of CGI and puppeteering and...effects. It's a movie all by

himself to create this character.

Actually, for movie one, had we known where it was going with the studio and

they were comfortable with the money, we probably would have started with Doc

Ock. So it was the natural choice.

LZ: That's what I wanted to say: We did play around with Doc Ock as

part of the first movie, so we had done some R&D and we all fell in love

with the character and the potential of the character. So I think we knew if

there was going to be a 'Spider-Man 2,' that Ock was going to be our character.

And then we found Fred. We knew it all came together.

Q: I look forward to seeing more of Doc Ock, but I was wondering what

other characters we'll be seeing in this movie and in future movies.

LZ: We would have to let Sam answer [the last part] but we're still

focused on this one. I'll just assure you that Peter Parker, Mary Jane and Aunt

May and J. Jonah Jameson and Hoffman, all the characters are back. If anything,

we probably have more action, more humor and more romance.

I think Sam is at the top of his game. We're all glad to be working with him.

He's taken these characters into in his soul and, knock on wood, we feel we're

making an even better movie than the first one.

Q: Will we be doing anything with Carnage and Venom in a future movie?

AA: Venom is, obviously, a very interesting character. It brings the

movie to a darker corner, if you will. We've been in discussions for a while now

on how to do it without taking away from the fun and the mystery. Making sure

it's good. It's definitely a possibility. It would be fascinating to see John

Dykstra create symbiotes. So we'll see. Give it time.

Q: This is a question for Alfred Molina. This is a different project

for you. You're known for more dramatic movies. How did you approach this role


AM: I think the important thing is to, in a way, surrender to the joy

of doing something like this. It's not like anything most of us do in the course

of our work. It's such a strange…and clearly, it's its own world. It has own

rules, its own conventions and all these sort of...

The one thing you never hear actors...playing a villain or a super-hero,

'Well, I don't know anybody who could do this.' Because, the thing is, it's a

whole different universe. And you have to embrace that. And be as authentic as

you can.

I'm having the time of my life. Playing villains is the perfect job, really

because you get to be as outrageous as you want to be. It's: all bets are off.

So it's great.

I think the main thing is surrender to what it is. I'm not trying to rise

above it or sort of make excuses for it or refine it. Just enjoy the heck out of


I put my tentacles on in the morning - and believe me, it's a very erotic

experience. Those of you who have tentacles, I'm sure will agree with me.

Personally, I feel part of this great tradition and I'm very happy to be so.

Q: This question is for John Dykstra: In the first 'Spider-Man' you

used CGI when necessary. How much CGI is used for Doc Ock and how much is

practical effects?

JD: Well I'll start by saying that, I don't think that there's going

to be any more CGI tentacles than are necessary because as you said about the

first film, Spider-Man was computer-generated when he needed to be. The great

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thing about this movie is with Alfred creating the persona of this character; it

gives us an opportunity to animate with personality these tentacles.

So what you're going to see is combination of puppeteering, which means

practical tentacles operated by individuals who are actually on set the same

time Alfred is wearing the tentacles, and CGI where we'll add the tentacles

after the fact.

The mix is impossible to tell at this point. We're still making the film and

learning more about what these tentacles want to do, as they are wont to do.

AM: In an ideal world, the more that we can create the scene with the

tentacles strapped on to me, the better.

I feel like I'm at a porn convention, talking about things being 'strapped

on.' I used to have a serious career, now I'm talking about strapping things on.

The tentacles are such an important part of the character, obviously, so that

whenever we can shoot the scene, integrally as it were, with me and the

tentacles interacting and so on, obviously the better it is. There are always

going to be technical or physical limitations to that.

It's a combination of the two, but I think we always try to go with the real

deal whenever possible because that just pays off. It pays dramatically. It pays

off visually. It pays off in every way. It just kind of makes it a much better

experience all around.

Q: We realize how important it is to be true to the source material.

Are there any of the creators of 'Spider-Man' involved besides Stan Lee.

AA: The visuals are obviously part of the source material. Sam Raimi

is a huge fan of the source material. He looked at the drawings.

In 'Spider-Man 1' we saw a lot of homage to the artwork. Movie two has much

more of it.

"Spider-Man 2" opens in theaters on July 2, 2004.

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