Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Why Tobey Maguire Disappeared From Hollywood After Spider-Man

Ah, Tobey Maguire. From the A-list acting (most of the time, at least ... we'll never forget that emo dance) to that perpetual case of babyface, the California native was a staple on the silver screen through the late '90s and especially the 2000s. Most memorably, he was an inaugural element of the modern superhero era, donning a spandex suit and taking the lead in one of the earliest Marvel mega successes in history.

But, though the first years of the new millennium suggested no end to Maguire's burgeoning fame, it wasn't long after the cooler reception to "Spider-Man 3" — way back in 2007 — that Maguire's presence in front of the camera began to become a bit of a rarity. While he still appeared in occasional roles in larger films like "The Great Gatsby" or that irreverently humorous "Satan's Alley" trailer cameo in "Tropic Thunder," Maguire just wasn't up to all that much on the screen for a while. Of course, everything happens for a reason. From personal decisions and negative press to marriage, divorce, and fatherhood, here are some of the reasons Tobey Maguire's star sunk below the horizon, and how he's since learned to manage Hollywood and fame on his own terms.

Is Tobey Maguire difficult to work with?

It turns out that, despite his affable appearance, Tobey Maguire may not have always been a treat to work with. When it came to his earlier career, he reportedly had multiple issues with co-stars on various movie sets. James Franco, for example, seems to have held a bit of resentment — reminiscent of Harry Osborn's struggles – while working alongside his "Spider-Man" co-star. In an interesting crossing of ways, Franco himself also interviewed actress Charlize Theron who recalled that while filming "Cider House Rules," "Tobey and I had a bit of a rough time, yeah. I mean, we're good now. It was a difficult movie."

And the drama goes beyond acting circles as well. After the success of the first "Spider-Man" movie, Maguire tried to get Columbia Pictures to adjust the filming schedule of the second film, allegedly to accommodate his bad back. He even got executives to meet with his neurosurgeon to discuss his workload, only to be dropped from the project a few days later. He was quickly reinstated, partly due to a helping hand from his then-girlfriend's father — a leading exec at rival studio Universal. But it's interesting to note that he ended up apologizing for the whole debacle, referring to his own attitude as "inappropriate." Suffice to say, that's a decent amount of evidence pointing to a pattern of being tough to work with.

Tobey Maguire won't play the popularity game

In an interview with Cinema.com, Tobey Maguire was asked how he felt about comments that he was "too reserved as an actor." His response was rather telling, as he proceeded to explain that he had heard people talking about a "charisma deficit" and that he more or less embraced the fact that he wasn't a hugely charismatic guy. Basically, he claimed not to equate real-world popularity with doing a good job on set.

Based on his own words and behavior, it would appear that it isn't in Maguire's nature to be excessively flashy, social, or outgoing. That's pretty impressive, considering the often-extroverted characters he's had to play on screen over the years. But, acting prowess aside, the harsh reality in the dog-eat-dog world of Hollywood is that if you're not willing to play the popularity game, sooner or later you're likely to be pushed onto the back burner. And with Maguire's willing embrace of his own subdued nature, it's no surprise that his reticent personality has done little to help his showbiz career.

Ending on a low note

Despite launching him to fame, the "Spider-Man" flicks may have also had a bit of a negative effect on Tobey Maguire's career once all was said and done. While the original "Spider-Man" film was a smash, and the entire trilogy has remained a nostalgic benchmark in Marvel's cinematic history, the series happened to end on what was pretty universally considered the worst of the three. The project had a lot of factors stacked against it, and even director Sam Raimi was disenchanted with the final product.

Shortly after the sour critical and fan response, talks between Raimi and Sony about a fourth installment fell through. Regardless of whatever complex negotiations may have happened behind the scenes, it was hard for audiences not to lay blame for the cancellation squarely at the feet of "Spider-Man 3." Needless to say, ending your tenure as an iconic character with a movie so unpopular it seemingly kills a franchise tends to undo some of the goodwill of a strong beginning. It's no surprise that the whole scenario took a bit of the luster off of the "Marvel star power" that initially did so much to fuel Maguire's career.

Tobey Maguire's marriage, divorce, and fatherhood

It may seem cliché, but that doesn't change the fact that marriage and parenting can be tough challenges that take all the time we can throw at them. It should come as no surprise, then, that Tobey Maguire's marriage to Jennifer Meyer in 2007 also happened to coincide with the beginning of his gradual fade from the limelight. The relationship endured for nine years before they announced that they were officially separating in October 2016. According to Entertainment Tonight, by that point, their marriage had slowly been crumbling "over the course of time." In an additional statement, the couple told People Magazine that "After much soul searching and consideration we have made the decision to separate as a couple." The divorce became official in 2020. 

Fortunately, though, the split was amicable, and their commitment to the family they had started together hadn't been lost in the shuffle. They still remained the dedicated parents of two children, Ruby and Otis, adding to their statement that "as devoted parents, our first priority remains raising our children together with enduring love, respect and friendship." And this sentiment hasn't waned over time, either. Us Weekly reported that Meyer considers her ex-husband her best friend, and the two have continued to strive to raise happy children despite the circumstances.

Tobey's Game

He may not play the popularity game, but Tobey Maguire has certainly shown a penchant for entertainment of a different sort: gambling. And we're not talking about a filthy rich celebrity having some fun. Maguire has established a reputation over the years as a winner. As far back as 2011, CNN reported that Maguire had to settle a lawsuit to prevent having to pay back the princely sum of $311,000 that he had won a few years earlier. The problem? The money had been stolen from investors by an illegal Ponzi scheme. While all Maguire did was accidentally win the money by playing some good poker, being in the headlines because you're connected with stolen cash isn't quite the same kind of popularity one gets from playing a beloved childhood superhero.

But Maguire's gambling issues went deeper than simply winning stolen money. They were put on much more damning display through the book and movie adaptation "Molly's Game," which followed the real-life story of Molly Bloom as she organized underground poker games for a host of rich players, including one "Player X." The unnamed gambler, who happens to be a jerk of the highest variety that enjoyed "destroying the lives of his fellow players" can be quite easily connected to none other than Maguire. From winning stolen money to his overall sinister reputation as a player, Maguire's gambling has hardly done his reputation any favors.

His transition from actor to producer

It almost seems like if you're an actor for long enough and you reach a certain level of clout, you automatically start getting producer credits on some of your own films. With Tobey Maguire, that started with 2003's "Seabiscuit," the racehorse biopic that he not only starred in but also gave him his first executive producer credit. However, he had already ventured into the world of producing before that, first doing so on Spike Lee's "25th Hour," a movie he didn't act in.

And so it went for Maguire throughout the 2000s and beyond, co-founding Material Pictures, his own company, which co-produced a few more of his own films — most notably, director Damien Chazelle's 2022's Hollywood epic "Babylon" — though mostly focuses on films Maguire isn't in as an actor. Among those in that category are the 2010 drama "Country Strong" and 2012's jukebox musical "Rock of Ages." Maguire also produced his own big return to television, IFC's "The Spoils of Babylon" miniseries, and executive produced the Bob Odenkirk actioner "Nobody."

Tobey Maguire's move into independent cinema

Tobey Maguire's shift from before to behind the camera might have initially looked like the type of dabbling many actors do when they reach a certain level of success, but he has been a much more prolific producer than an actor in the new millennium. Material Pictures seems to allow Maguire to break away from acting while simultaneously maintaining his passion for the entertainment industry. In particular, 2019 was very busy for Maguire's behind-the-scenes work, as his studio produced three movies that year.

One of the films, "Boyz in the Wood," won the Midnighters Audience Award at SXSW, while another, "Brittany Runs a Marathon," was purchased by Amazon for an impressive $14 million and went on to earn considerable critical acclaim. The third Material movie from 2019 was a Sam Rockwell and Taraji P. Henson vehicle called "The Best of Enemies." Maguire might still be most famous for his work in superhero movies budgeted for hundreds of millions of dollars, but it'll be interesting to see if, down the line, his career continues to turn towards producing smaller films.

Tobey Maguire's a little bit picky

Another factor that might have chilled the relationship between Hollywood and Tobey Maguire at one point is the fact that he doesn't accept just any old acting job that's offered to him. He's been very selective about the roles he's taken on in the years since the "Spider-Man" films. In an interview with Nylon back in 2015, Maguire explained that "It's always difficult to find projects that I want to get involved in, so that's a continuous challenge."

He went on to say that his choosy nature stems from the fact that an acting-producing career involves a lot of commitment and investment. If he's not deeply interested in the story of the project, it becomes very hard for him to enjoy the experience. And at this point in his career, if he can't do what he loves then he might as well pack up shop.

Tobey Maguire: Competitive puzzler

There have been plenty of new professional projects and important life events that kept Tobey Maguire out of Hollywood, but there are also a few non-film hobbies that he's admitted to investing time in. While the fact that the ex-Hollywood regular engages in personal activities is hardly surprising, the activities themselves are anything but predictable.

When asked what he does in his downtime, Maguire headlined his list of leisure pursuits with playing pickle ball with his friends. He followed up this rather interesting revelation by listing off hanging out with his kids and going skiing, both pretty normal ways to spend your spare time.

Then he casually added one more item to the list: competitive puzzling. That's right: The erstwhile Peter Parker spends significant portions of his spare time putting puzzles together at a rapacious rate. While the thought of putting together a jigsaw puzzle or two from time to time makes sense, it only seems natural that Maguire would feel the need to take this seemingly pointless activity to the next level.

He got too famous to play smaller roles

Tobey Maguire was never especially comfortable with the level of fame he reached after playing Spider-Man. While it's easy for an outsider to dismiss his complaints about paparazzi and media scrutiny as just coming with the territory of being a Hollywood actor, it went a lot deeper than that for Maguire. Sometimes, when an actor reaches that top echelon of fame, he loses access to certain roles that the industry has deemed he is "too big" for. And that very thing started to happen to Maguire.

The movie that really announced Maguire as one of Hollywood's best rising talents was the 1997 drama "The Ice Storm." This means that filmmaker Ang Lee, who directed that movie, helped to give Maguire the serious acting career he was looking for. So, it was a nice full circle moment when Lee cast Maguire in the "Life of Pi," the acclaimed fantasy drama that later earned Lee his second best director Oscar. If you're wondering how you missed Maguire's part in the movie, it's because it was filmed but ultimately cut. After Lee watched the scenes back, he determined that Maguire was simply too big and too recognizable a star to play the fairly small role of the writer who interviews adult Pi (Irrfan Khan). Maguire said he supported Lee's decision, but being deleted from such a beloved and award-winning film — especially for no other reason than being too famous — had to sting. 

He gave voice acting another shot

Very few actors are above doing voice work. It's not hard to see why, as it forgoes a lot of the annoyances of live-action movies — make-up, long hours on set, extensive traveling, and interacting with anyone beyond the couple of people sitting outside the booth while you record your lines. This is probably why movies like 2001's "Cats & Dogs" have ridiculously stacked casts full of A-listers, willing to be silly and voice cartoon animals and such. As it happened, that movie also included Tobey Maguire's debut as a voice actor. After that, Maguire mostly abandoned voice acting, not even voicing his "Cats & Dogs" character in that movie's sequel. However, it can be argued that many of the scenes in the "Spider-Man" movies essentially amounted to voice acting as Maguire was often simply adding dialogue to a scene of a fully-CG Spidey. 

Maguire was up for voicing Spider-Man in the various video game adaptations of those movies, but one wonders if it was a contractual obligation given how lifeless and bored he sounded while doing so. The year 2007 would mark his last "Spider-Man" game and therefore his hiatus from voice acting. That is, until he returned to the field in a big way by voicing one of the main characters in the 2017 DreamWorks hit "The Boss Baby." He's yet to return to voicework — and a rumored voice cameo in "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" never materialized — but never say never. 

Babylon was his first big non-Marvel movie in a decade

After many, many years of rumors, speculation, and comments from the cast and crew, Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man" universe finally returned to the big screen in 2021 when Tobey Maguire reprised his role as that universe's Peter Parker in "Spider-Man: No Way Home." It was easy to wonder if that meant that Maguire was back to making big Hollywood movies again, or if it was just a one-off victory lap to both appease fans and just play the iconic Marvel superhero one last(?) time. 

That question seemed to be answered the following year when Maguire showed up in "Babylon," a movie that is both about Hollywood excess that also very much revels in the same. Maguire's role as the unsettling gangster character James McKay marked his first appearance in a big budget, major studio, non-Marvel, non-animated film since "The Great Gatsby" nine years earlier. And, like "The Great Gatsby," this was a big studio release, but one helmed by a noted auteur. This means that Maguire is still willing to not only make movies, but make big movies — so long as it's with a filmmaker that is known for interesting and artistically compelling work. 

Returned to television for the first time since the '90s

Tobey Maguire's early acting career saw him do an almost equal mix of big-screen and small-screen work. In the first half of the '90s, Maguire popped up in shows like "Blossom," "Roseanne," and "Eerie, Indiana." Additionally, his first lead role was on television, when he played the titular character in the short-lived 1992 Fox sitcom "Great Scott!" But once Maguire's movie career really started picking up steam beginning with "The Ice Storm" and Woody Allen's "Deconstructing Harry" in 1997, he effectively left television behind.

The nearly 20-year gap between 1997 and 2014 saw Maguire make only a single television appearance outside of talk shows and the like when he did his one and only hosting gig on "Saturday Night Live" in 2000. Perhaps it was because he had to introduce Sisqó's performance of "The Thong Song," but after that, Maguire was off the air again all the way until 2014. That year saw him return to television in a big way when he not only starred in but also produced the IFC comedy miniseries "The Spoils of Babylon." He took another long break from the small screen, but popped up on it once again in 2023 when he appeared in an episode of the anthology series "Extrapolations" on Apple TV+. It might only be occasional, but he is definitely willing to do television work when the right project presents itself. 

He's spending more time with old pal Leonardo DiCaprio

Of course, there's also the reality that just because someone isn't starring in movies, that doesn't necessarily mean they are sitting around feeling sorry for themselves. Tobey Maguire amassed a pretty hefty amount of cash from not only his "Spider-Man" roles but his various other film and television work — and there is a lot one can do with an eight-figure bank account balance. Especially if that person happens to be pals with notorious good-life enjoyer Leonardo DiCaprio.

Maguire and DiCaprio definitely didn't mind enjoying the spoils of fame in their younger days, particularly when it came to spending time with the ladies. In fact, there is a certain unsavory nickname that the pair and some of their other friends from those days earned that we won't repeat here, but it involves a feline-based slang term for part of the female anatomy. For Maguire's part, he had to step away from the crew for a time when he settled down with wife Jennifer Meyer, but with that no longer a factor — more on that later — it would seem like he's reunited with DiCaprio and they're back to living it up. Summer 2023 saw the pair hanging out in Paris, followed by Maguire joining DiCaprio on his private jet as they flew off to spend the holidays together later that year. 

He was smart with his Spider-Man fortune

With Tobey Maguire among the first people to lead a hugely successful solo Marvel trilogy, he was also one of the first to earn a huge payday playing an iconic Marvel superhero. It might have taken until the sequel before those paydays got into the eight-figure range — he reportedly made only $4 million for the original, which then jumped to $17.5 million for "Spider-Man 2" — but by the time the "Spider-Man" trilogy wrapped up, estimates put the amount of cash Maguire pocketed for the franchise at a cool $75 million.

Because Maguire had a tough childhood in terms of money, he never wanted to struggle financially or find himself needing to crank out movies in order to support a lavish lifestyle. So rather than blow through that $75 million with the assumption that he'd continue making tens of millions of dollars per movie, Maguire was smart with his money so that he could maintain a comfortable life for both him and his children without having to be in a huge movie every year or two. This also afforded him the opportunity to only make the movies he truly wanted to make and never be forced to do a film just for the paycheck. 

He finally put the Spidey suit back on

Plans for a fourth Tobey Maguire "Spider-Man" movie eventually fell apart, and the character's cinematic presence was then rebooted with Andrew Garfield in the role — and then again for the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Tom Holland taking over as the newest big screen Peter Parker. When Garfield's "The Amazing Spider-Man" series started, it was a pre-movie multiverse world, and therefore it was assumed we'd seen the last of Maguire as the web slinger. But when old comic book actors began reprising their roles in newer movies and TV shows, talks immediately turned to whether we'd see Maguire play Peter Parker again in a similar fashion.

It was rumored that Maguire would voice the middle-aged Peter Parker in "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse," but those plans were scrapped and all we got was a cameo in "Across the Spider-Verse" a few years later via archival footage. But Marvel Studios did fans one better when they brought back Maguire and Garfield in the flesh to play multiverse Peter Parkers teaming up with Holland's version in "Spider-Man: No Way Home," the MCU's third solo Spidey movie. It was fan service on a level seldom seen on the big screen, with actors who played the same character in three previously-unconnected movie series all interacting together in the same film. The experience also reignited Maguire's passion for the career he had been pulling away from — so not only was his Spider-Man back, but Maguire himself was back, too.