Tobey Maguire matures, goes to war for “Brothers”

NEW YORK, (Reuters) – Hollywood has finally realized  that Tobey Maguire has grown up. The actor who gained fame as a  teenager in the “Spider-Man” movies has embraced fatherhood and  a new role as a soldier whose family is torn apart by war.

Tobey Maguire
Tobey Maguire

The 34-year-old actor is now a married father of two and  appearing in his first film in two years since “Spider-Man 3”,  the adult drama “Brothers,” which debuted in major U.S. cities  yesterday and looks at soldiers returning from Afghanistan.

“Brothers’ explores the psychological ravages of war and  points to the difficulties soldiers face returning to their  loved ones in the United States.

As President Barack Obama escalates U.S. involvement in  that country, it serves as a cautionary tale of post-traumatic  stress for adults mindful of what combat does to men and the  families they leave behind.

“They are embarrassed or ashamed and also feel like other  people can’t understand,” Maguire told Reuters. “We have to be  more proactive as a society to reach our hand out to them.”

During the film, Maguire’s character is captured by Taliban  fighters and “Brothers” explores the trauma of returning home  to suburban American to his wife, played by Natalie Portman and  his brother, played by Jake Gyllenhaal.

It is a step away from the gentle portrayals of teenagers  and young men the California-born actor forged a career from in  films like “The Ice Storm,” “The Cider House Rules” and “Wonder  Boys” and, of course, the bookish Peter Parker.

Maguire told Reuters he hoped the movie would “shed some  light on an uncomfortable topic” of the fallibility of soldiers  and would produce a more open dialogue between soldiers, their  families and their communities.

“Let’s not have the elephant in the room,” he said.

THE MOVIES GO TO WAR

“Brothers” is an American remake of the 2004 Danish drama  of the same name and is the latest in a string of movies that  explore stories about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Films like “In the Valley of Elah” (2007) and “Stop-Loss”  (2008) dealt with aspects of the current conflicts and, for the  most part, failed to generate much excitement at box offices  as audiences turned away from war movies.

But this year, moviegoers seem able to face armed conflict  and its emotional ravages. “The Hurt Locker,” about soldiers  who defuse bombs, is among the best reviewed movies of 2009 and  has generated $16 million at global box offices, which is a  good sum for a low-budget, art house film.

Still, Maguire has been in Hollywood long enough to know  that entertainment and politics rarely mix well, and he avoided  talking about his own views on the wars and whether he supports  the planned U.S. troop increase.

“I don’t want to necessarily get into a political  conversation. I have my views about that stuff, but what is  important is…to have a dialogue going,” he said.

In recent years, Maguire has taken time away from acting to  focus on family and kids — his second child with his wife  Jennifer Meyer, daughter of Universal Studios President Ronald  Meyer, was born just this past May.

“When they are born, for a few weeks it is just me and my  wife and kids,” he said. “I would have no distractions for  their welcoming into the world, and all of that, and then  slowly take on more and more of my work responsibilities.”

While he has no plans to quit acting — “Spider-Man 4” is  currently in the works — more and more he finds himself  focused on his company, Maguire Entertainment, and producing.

He is developing several projects including “Robotech,”  adapted from the classic Japanese animation series.

“It’s challenging, to identify things, to set them up, to  get the right people to help you develop them,” he said. “I am  a big fan of movies and I want to make ‘em.”

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