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Tobey Maguire Biography


Home > Actors > M > Maguire, Tobey > Biography


Birth Name: Tobey Maguire
Born: 06/27/1975
Birth Place: Santa Monica, California, USA


The product of a turbulent childhood, future actor Tobias Vincent Maguire was born on June 27, 1975 in Santa Monica, CA. The offspring of unwed parents, Maguire moved frequently as a child, living with various familial permutations of his parents, grandparents and aunts. This fractured childhood may have contributed to the young actor's drive and unique presence, evincing at once mature clarity and childlike vulnerability in his performances. After his mother, Wendy, offered him $100 to take drama instead of home economics as a school elective, Maguire - encouraged by a neighbor who was an entertainment manager - studied acting and soon landed TV commercial work. Maguire's first major gig was in the short-lived sitcom,"Great Scott!" (Fox, 1992-93). In it, Maguire played Scott Melrod, an adolescent with an active fantasy life. A refreshingly original offering, "Great Scott!" was critically lauded, but failed to find an audience. Despite smart writing and Maguire's engaging performance, the show was canceled after only six episodes. Following the demise of "Scott," Maguire stayed busy with other television projects. His particularly impressive turn in the made-for TV drama "Spoils of War" (ABC, 1984) led to more television work, including "A Child's Cry for Help" (NBC, 1994) and the fact-based drama, "Seduced by Madness: The Diana Borchardt Story" (NBC, 1996).

It would be on the big screen, however, where Maguire would truly make his mark, making his film debut in "This Boy's Life" (1993), the adaptation of Tobias Wolff's seminal coming-of-age memoir. Cast in the supporting role of Chuck Bolger, a childhood friend of Leonardo DiCaprio's character of Toby, Maguire not only impressed critics - he more importantly forged a lifelong off-screen friendship with co-star DiCaprio. More impressive was Maguire's turn in Griffin Dunne's 1995 Oscar-nominated short, "The Duke of Groove." In it, Maguire deftly played a self-conscious teenage boy attending a pop icon-populated party with his mother, during which the two learn truths about themselves and each other. Unfortunately, after a promising start, Maguire hit a rough patch in the mid-1990's - a career downturn which culminated in the loss of a leading role he had desperately wanted in the cult hit "Empire Records" (1995). After a botched audition dissuaded director Allan Moyle - one of Maguire's greatest supporters - from hiring him, Maguire was so disappointed, he briefly considered quitting acting altogether. After some intense soul-searching, however, Maguire fortunately decided to give it another go. As it turned out, the young actor's choice proved to be the correct one - as his career was about to turn a major corner.

Starting in 1997, his choice of projects began to reflect a more serious approach toward his career. The first of these redefining roles was Paul Hood, the conflicted, but clear-headed adolescent narrator in director Ang Lee's "The Ice Storm" (1997) - a remarkably acted, highly unsettling drama set in 1970's upper-middle class suburbia. "The Ice Storm" featured an all-star ensemble cast, including Joan Allen, Kevin Kline, and Sigourney Weaver. Undaunted by this assemblage of heavy-hitters, the 22-year-old Maguire nevertheless held his own, infusing the role of Paul with an affecting mixture of cynicism and unspoiled innocence. Having now proved his mettle, Maguire caught the attention of filmmaker Woody Allen, who cast him in a small part in his next comedy, "Deconstructing Harry" (1997). The following year, Maguire landed his first starring role in "Pleasantville" (1998), a fable about a thoughtful modern-day teen obsessed with 1950's sitcoms. The subtly-moving film was a perfect match for Maguire, who turned in a characteristically understated, but powerful, performance alongside veterans William H. Macy, Joan Allen and Jeff Daniels. In 1999, Maguire re-teamed with Ang Lee for the director's epic Civil War drama, "Ride with the Devil," co-starring Skeet Ulrich and Jeffrey Wright. Cast as Confederate-sympathizer Jake Roedel, Maguire's talent for drawing out the vulnerability in his characters added much to the film, and lent a palpable humanity to a type of figure that was often vilified in modern history.

The year 1999 would also mark the release of "The Cider House Rules," director Lasse Hallstrom's film adaptation of John Irving's novel. The story of a young orphan raised by an idealistic abortionist, Maguire's nuanced turn as the sensitive but upstanding Homer Wells was applauded by critics and served as the anchor for the film. Maguire's on-screen chemistry with his older co-star, Michael Caine paved the way for his next project, "Wonder Boys" (2000), in which he played a college student protégé to a frustrated middle-aged writer-mentor played by Michael Douglas. Based on author Michael Chabon's best-selling book and directed by Oscar nominated director Curtis Hanson, "Wonder Boys" earned strong reviews, but underperformed at the box office. Despite the disappointing failure of "Wonder Boys," Maguire's career was heating up. With a full slate of work in production and an apparently levelheaded attitude towards stardom, the talented Maguire emerged as an actor to watch.

It was not until Maguire landed the highly coveted lead role in the Sam Raimi-directed "Spider-Man" (2002), however, that his career ascended to the next level. Based on the popular Marvel Comics character created by writer Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko, "Spider-Man" was a phenomenal success and resurrected the then-flagging live action super-hero genre. Maguire's winning performance as both the nerdy Peter Parker and his confident alter ego, Spider-Man, helped catapult the heretofore respected, but media shy actor onto the Hollywood A-list. Soon, his every activity - from his Hollywood party-crawling with pal DiCaprio to his rumored romance with leading lady Kirstin Dunst -made tabloid headlines.

After his career-making success with "Spider-Man," Maguire re-teamed with his "Pleasantville" writer-director Gary Ross for the adaptation of Laura Hillenbrand's bestselling nonfiction tome, "Seabiscuit" (2003). The story of a long shot racehorse and his feisty jockey, "Seabiscuit" was both a critical and financial success. Maguire, in particular, won raves for bringing a compelling combination of anger, frustration and sensitivity to his role as Red Pollard, the once-orphaned jockey who rode Seabiscuit to victory. After completing that film, Maguire reported that he was suffering from chronic lower back pain - reports that, combined with some behind-the-scenes maneuvering by his management team, almost lost him his most lucrative role in the sequel "Spider-Man 2" (2004). Maguire said publicly there were only minor physical concerns that were quickly resolved, but it was widely reported that Sony had fired him from the film and tapped actor Jake Gyllenhaal to assume the role. Whatever actually happened behind the scenes, Maguire proved himself fit for duty and reported for shooting the sequel, to the relief of all the franchise's fans.

In 2007, Maguire suited up once again - presumably, for the last time - as everyone's favorite web-slinger in "Spider-Man 3" (2007). Easily the most expensive and ambitious installment to date, "Spider-Man 3" reunited Maguire with co-stars Kirsten Dunst, Rosemary Harris and James Franco for one final adventure. Along for the ride this time out, were Oscar nominee Thomas Haden Church as the villainous Sandman and Topher Grace as Spidey's alien nemesis, Venom. Following a humorous cameo in Ben Stiller's "Tropic Thunder" (2009), in which he played a gay 18th century monk in a fake movie-trailer-within-the-movie, Maguire turned in a serious dramatic performance in "Brothers" (2009). He played a soldier and steadfast family man married to his high school sweetheart (Natalie Portman) whose family are cared for by his black sheep brother (Jake Gyllenhaal) while he, himself, does a tour in Afghanistan. But when his helicopter crashes, everyone assumes he has been killed. Instead, he's captured and tortured by the enemy, leaving him psychologically and emotionally scarred. Eventually he returns home, only to suffer a breakdown under the weight of his traumatic experience, and the possibility his wife and brother had an affair. For performance, Maguire earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama.