The role went to Kirsten Dunst, who was six years younger than Maguire, instead.
In a recent interview with GlamourUK, Elizabeth Banks revealed that she had auditioned for the role of Mary Jane Watson in Sam Raimi’s well-regarded Spider -Man starring Tobey Maguire. Banks confirmed that she lost the part because she was “too old.”
I screen-tested for the role of Mary-Jane Watson in the first Spider-Man movie, opposite Tobey Maguire…Tobey and I are basically the same age and I was told I was too old to play her. I’m like, ‘Oh, okay, that’s what I’ve signed up for.’
Banks did get another role in the eventual trilogy: the minor part of Betty Brant, J. Jonah Jameson’s secretary. But the brutal casting decision sheds light on the very real problem that women are only considered for love interests if they are considerably younger than their costars. If you’re the same age as the leading man? You can be a frumpy secretary with a bad haircut.