"I am a total comic book geek," says Topher Grace. Grace plays probably one of the most popular villains in Spider-Man, Venom. So for an admitted comic book geek it was quite a thrill for Grace to take on the role. "I’m the geekiest guy to ever be in a film like this that’s for sure. We were at Comi-Con, they showed the preview where I turn into Venom at the end. I was jumping around backstage and someone came up to me and was like you have to cool it. If you’re starring in these films you can’t be this crazy excited. This is why you buy the bus ticket to Hollywood...(Comi-Con) that was great. It was the closest I’ll ever be to a rock star." At first Grace didn’t realize he had a chance to play one of the villains in Spider-Man because Thomas Haden Church had been cast as Sandman. "Thomas was cast earlier than me and I remember feeling jealous when he was cast. I didn’t know there was more than one bad guy. I thought man I would love to do that."
The character of Venom was pretty much irresistible for Grace to take on. "I’m a huge fan of the first two films. I thought the second one was better than the first, which is so rare. They have this well-oiled machine and they know exactly what they’re doing, both Sam (Raimi) and the cast. On another level I was a really big fan as a kid of the comic book. Literally when the character of Venom was being born I was getting really into comic books and getting into Todd McFarland who was this new illustrator and was blowing my mind. He was doing Amazing Spider-Man and then he did his own Spider-Man comic book. I felt like I had the inside track and no one else should play it (Venom). When Sam told me I had to bite my tongue and say well tell me about the character because I hadn’t negotiated for money yet."
Did Grace bring his knowledge of comic books to the role? "Well I think at first I brought a fear in the beginning that I shared with Sam, which was I don’t think I’m the right guy that can play this role. In the original comic book he’s like 40 and really muscle bound and even though I had to work out for six months I could never get to where he was in the comic book. What Sam described to me was taking the best of both worlds approach and kind of makes him an evil twin brother of Peter Parker. What’s great bout Eddie is even though he is really slick and has a great exterior he hides a very hollow interior. Peter is just the opposite. His core is very strong."
The filming process for Grace was on and off, but he had to work out consistently. "I had to keep working out through the film, which is probably not a surprise to anyone, but it was a first for me. You know you have to eat right too, which is really the bummer of working out. The working out isn’t as hard as the eating and I’d eat aggressively because I lose weight very easily. I had to stay blonde for a year, which was not my cup of tea. It was a yearlong constant thing. The best was when we went to New York and I have an apartment in New York and I had missed living there. I could role out of bed, get a cup of coffee somewhere and go to this blockbuster film set and then go out to dinner after"
Since Grace is such a "geek" did he take any souvenirs from the set? "Ya know I forgot to. It was a yearlong process making the film so you never know when it’s ending exactly. I want to try to get a newspaper clipping of the retraction and maybe a bust of Venom."
For Grace the role is quite a departure from other characters he’s played. Best known for his role as Eric in 'That 70’s Show' and starring opposite Dennis Quaid in the film 'In Good Company', Grace is known for playing the everyman, which is a drastic change from playing one of comic books most loved bad guys. "I’m such a bad actor to talk about this because I know for my career I should say I had to go to such a dark place, but I think it’s all on the same plain, happiness, sadness, being mean and being nice are all really close to each other. The goal in my career is to do movies that are both. I hate when people ask are your favorite movies comedies or dramas. My favorite movies are both just like life. One day your not crying all day or laughing all day so I like to find characters who have that balance too."
You can check out Topher Grace’s incredible transformation into Venom when 'Spider-Man 3' opens nationwide May 4th.