Thomas Haden Church at Comic-Con

I had a chance to sit down with Thomas Haden Church at Comic-Con this past Saturday to discuss his role as Flint Marko (aka the Sandman) in the eagerly anticipated 'Spider-Man 3.' Here's what he had to say ...

Moviefone: Is there anything at all you can tell us about the plot? Not so much, right?

Thomas Haden Church: C'mon. You knew that.

Moviefone: I had to ask. Now taking on the role of Sandman in a successful franchise like this is kind of a big deal. What were your thoughts in approaching the role?

THC: For the most part, just honor the tradition of how he was originally conceived and how we contemporize the moorings of the character but for a modern audience -- but again, you know, staying true to the original roots of what Stan Lee's vision was in the early '60s.

Moviefone: Sandman is a CGI creation. Did you have much input in determining the character's movements and facial expressions?

THC: Yeah, I mean all that stuff that goes in -- everybody's familiar with how it's manufactured along the way. Yeah, I mean, I was very much involved. I've been working on the movie since January of last year. I've been on the movie for a long time, heavily involved in all the special effects all the way through -- and probably will continue to be even as they're posting the movie. I don't think all of my work is done yet.

Moviefone: You used motion-capture in the process, correct? How was that?

THC: Oh yeah. We did all that stuff. It's labor intensive. All you do is be there and get prepped and do what they ask you to do for awhile. It's all they're work really. They're longshoremen laboring for years unloading ships. It so vastly surpasses what we have to do because it's so meticulous what they do.

Moviefone: What was the toughest part of filming for you?

THC: I mean it's an action picture, so it's a very physical movie and a very physical role. I mean [Sandman] is a real guy, a real guy that is clearly challenged in certain ways by nature. But he's a real guy, and a lot of it is practical physical action.

Moviefone: What was it like working with Sam Raimi, coming from smaller movies and then taking on something huge like this?

THC: If you know his body of work, Sam has done big movies, but he's done -- My favorite Sam Raimi movie is 'A Simple Plan,' a small character-driven thriller. Sam and I talked about it a lot and how specific those performances are. It's not different for him, really. Everything else that he's doing, and like all the stuff you're talking about -- all the special effects prep, turning over the shots while we're shooting, and geting the stuff incorporated that goes into the practical photography, the stuff that they have to lay in, the special effects, and the movie doesn't come out till next May -- there's a whole body of work that I'm aware of but that I'm not a part of that Sam has to attend to. But for me, while I'm on set, while I'm playing the real guy and Sam is directing me, that's all that matters to him: to nail the honesty of the performance. All of that other stuff -- I mean, he creates a very insular environment when you're being directed by him. All that matters is you and him and getting what he needs emotionally.

Moviefone: What was the best part of filming?

THC: Some of the special effects stuff was fun, but getting to know people that I've admired -- not only Sam but Tobey Maguire. I'm a huge fan of Tobey's work. The day I met him I couldn't stop talking to him about 'Ride With the Devil,' which I think is a vastly underrated picture. He said to me, "I just hope to have someday like a 'Sideways' that's so revered." And I said, "You know what, as far as I'm concerned you do, and I think it's 'Ride With the Devil.' And he goes, "I feel the same way." It wasn't nearly as critically acclaimed as 'Sideways,' but I just think it's a terrific movie, and Tobey's wonderful in it.

Moviefone: Yes, and Jewel's finest acting work as well.

THC: Ha. Oh, yes.

See the Top 15 Highlights From Comic-Con

Watch the 'Spider-Man 3' teaser trailer

See Thomas Haden Church photos

Tags: Spider-Man 3, Comics, Comic-Con, Summer Movies
categories Features, Cinematical