Elizabeth Banks has carved out a swell career in Hollywood, but you can’t blame her if she was bitter about one role she didn’t get more than 15 ago. The actress and Pitch Perfect 2 director told Glamour UK that she tested for the role of Spider-Man’s girlfriend in the 2002 film starring Tobey Maguire but was told she “too old” for the part.
Banks was about 26 at the time — less than 15 months older than Maguire. (Some outlets say she was 28 then, but that was her age when the film came out, not when the screen test happened.)
“I screen-tested for the role of Mary-Jane Watson in the first Spider-Man movie, opposite Tobey Maguire,” she told the magazine. “Tobey and I are basically the same age, and I was told I was too old to play her. I’m like, ‘Oh, OK, that’s what I’ve signed up for.’” The role went to Kirsten Dunst, then a spry late-teenager. Banks did land the supporting role of Betty Brant, a secretary at the Daily Bugle, and went to appear in all three Sam Raimi-helmed Spidey pics starring Maguire. That’s Banks at 28 on the right at the 2002 Movie Awards. The following year, Dunst won Best Female Performance for Spider-Man.
Banks would go on to appear with Maquire not long after her Spider-Man tryout, starring with him in 2003’s Seabiscuit.