An Oral History Of Spider-Man 2’s Train Scene, One Of The Best Action Scenes In Superhero Cinema

An Oral History Of Spider-Man 2’s Train Scene, One Of The Best Action Scenes In Superhero Cinema

From all accounts, Alfred Molina was an absolute pro, despite never having been in a movie as technically complicated as this one.

John Dykstra, production visual effects supervisor: I think that Sam did a terrific job. His Spider-Man movies, for me, seemed to be a great capturing of the essence of the character. Not that the subsequent ones weren’t good, but I think for an origin story, it was really great. His choices of performers, with Tobey and Alfred and the people who were essential to it, I think, were really inspired.

Alfred Molina, actor (“Otto Octavius/Doc Ock”): The overriding memory I’ve got, really, was, it was just such great fun. I’d never done anything like this in my life. I’d never worked on this kind of movie before, so all the technology […] then was cutting edge, but I still had the arms attached. The tentacles were still attached, so there were puppeteers in blue suits working them and stuff. So it was kind of cumbersome and the movement was — we were kind of slow.

Ray Lykins, stunt double (“Doc Ock”): Alfred’s a great actor. A lot of people don’t realize he’s classically trained. He’s a full-on actor, not a guy just winging it and trying it. Super nice guy, nicest guy ever. When I met him, he said, “Hey Ray, you know what?” We met in the wardrobe fitting and he goes, “I will never take a day away from a stunt guy.” And I go, “Perfect. That’s perfect. We’re going to have a great time.” And sure enough, he held that true. It was like every time it’d be anything near action, he’s like, “Where’s Ray at? Where’s Ray?”

Brad Martin, stunt double (“Spider-Man”): I fought Alfred, and he’s super cool. We hung out a little bit. He’s a gentleman, super smart dude. Really, really, really cool. And just a professional all the way around. Tobey stays in his trailer a lot, since when he’s Spider-Man, his hood’s on. He wasn’t generally there when I was around.

Alfred Molina, actor (“Otto Octavius/Doc Ock”): I remember there was another day when Rosemary Harris and I were suspended up in midair. We were shooting the sequence where I’m carrying her. I’ve stolen her, and we’re going up the skyscraper. And we shot it in all kinds of ways. We shot it where the skyscraper was flat, and we were working horizontally. We had a sequence where it was vertical, and I think the shot was her when she whacks me with the umbrella. And so we were up quite a good, I don’t know, 20, 40 feet up in the air in our harnesses, and we’re doing it. And then suddenly everything stopped, and everyone on the deck, they’ve all gone to monitors, and they’re looking at monitors and talking and talking, and we’re up there for quite some time. And then I hear one of the guys on the floor say, “We’ll only be a minute, if you don’t mind staying up there.” Because bringing us down and taking us up always took time. So we both went, “Yeah, this isn’t exactly uncomfortable. We’ll stay up here.”

So we’re up there, and we’ve been up there for quite some time. Rosemary and I, we actually began to run out of small talk, and then it was a hot day and someone opened the dock doors of the soundstage, and we caught this breeze. And so the two of us are suspended, and we start floating. The breeze has caught us, and we’re like floating like this. And out of the silence, as we’re floating like this, Rosemary says, “I’m classically trained, you know.” [laughs] I’ve never forgotten that.

Ray Lykins, stunt double (“Doc Ock”): They were filming me head-on and he came walking in, joking because he always jokes around. He goes, “Why am I doubling Ray now?” Because I shot it, and then they’re going, “Okay, well Ray did this and Ray did that.” He goes, “Wait a second. Who’s Doc Ock around here?” He was joking. That’s how well we got along and how much I looked like it to where they were shooting me head-on without [trying to hide my face].

Alfred Molina, actor (“Otto Octavius/Doc Ock”): I remember there was a moment when Spidey hits me or sends me reeling back, and I had to fly back, and the wires are pulling me back. And there was this sensation of, when we first did it, I just remember — I think we were working with the [second] unit director, I’m not sure if I was working with Sam on this sequence — but he kept saying what I was doing was, because I wasn’t used to it, the first couple of takes, I was giggling a little bit, because the physical sensation of suddenly being pulled back was making me go, “Whoa!” It was making me giggle. So I had to conquer that.

Ray Lykins, stunt double (“Doc Ock”): He’s the funniest guy, you could always know where he’s at because you could hear him on the set because he’s laughing, always laughing, talking. He’ll talk to anybody — grips, it doesn’t matter. He has no ego, none of that. He’s just talking and laughing with everybody, always. Super nice. He knew right away he wasn’t going to do any stunts at all, and that worked out for me and everything else too.

Alfred Molina, actor (“Otto Octavius/Doc Ock”): I remember once I had to do a reaction to a punch or a hit, I had to literally go “Ah!” [acts as if he was just punched in the face] or something like that. We must have done it, I don’t know, 25 times. And I remember after a while thinking, “I must be the sh*ttiest actor in the world. I can’t even get this right.” And then after about 10 or 12 takes, I said, “I’m sorry, am I doing something wrong? I don’t quite understand.” And he said, “Oh, it’s not you. It’s nothing to do with you.” And I suddenly realized nobody was looking at me doing that. Nobody was going, “I don’t believe that reaction.” They were all watching it on a computer on top of some kind of pre-vis, and it was all having to time in with a whole bunch of other elements. So it was less to do with me and more to do with how the overall thing’s going to look in terms of lighting and so on. And that’s when the penny dropped, and I realized, “Ah, that’s it. What I’m doing is just a small part of a much, much bigger series of things.” And as soon as you embrace that fact, that’s when you can really start enjoying the process. It’s a great lesson to learn that, when you’re doing something over and over again, it’s not necessarily about you. It’s about a whole bunch of other things.

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