Syfy Insider Exclusive

Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive videos, sweepstakes, and more!

Sign Up For Free to View

Why Spider-Man’s Iconic Upside Down Kiss Was “Miserable” for Kirsten Dunst

Long story short: Tobey Maguire was basically being waterboarded and Dunst needed to bring him back to life.

By Josh Weiss

They don't call it "movie magic" for nothing, folks! The super-iconic shots we love to cite time and again were, more often than not, absolute hell to pull off during production.

Costly animatronics break down without warning, celebrated actors show up to set overweight, exotic cuisines lead to mass food poisoning, and million-dollar budgets balloon out of control. If a director and their crew know what they're doing, however, they can soldier through the pain, make the best out of a less-than-ideal situation, and create a lasting imprint on cinematic history. Fun fact: A lot of the moviemaking process involves pulling off miracles on a regular basis.

Take, for instance, the famous upside down kiss in the rain between Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) and Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) from Sam Raimi's original Spider-Man film. During a recent appearance on The Jonathan Ross Show, Dunst recalled how the director really wanted the moment to feel "special." So much so, in fact, that he gave the actress "a book of famous kisses" for inspiration. When it came time to actually shoot the scene, though, the experience was anything but special. Long story short: Maguire was basically being waterboarded by rain machines and Dunst needed to bring him back to life.

For More on Sam Raimi:
Could There Be Another Tobey Maguire Spider-Man Movie? Sam Raimi Responds to Rumors
'Renfield' writer Ryan Ridley says film was inspired by Sam Raimi, Peter Jackson, and George Romero
Sam Raimi teases they're 'trying to come up with a story' for 'Drag Me to Hell' sequel

Why the Upside Down Kiss in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man Was "Miserable" to Film

"It was kind of miserable," Dunst revealed. "It was pouring rain, freezing, Tobey couldn't breathe. So, it was almost like I was resuscitating him."

On the official commentary track included with the movie's home release, late Spider-Man producer Laura Ziskin admitted the same thing: "This scene was further torturing of Kirsten in very, very cold weather and freezing cold water ... There was this wonderful image in the comic book of him with his mask half-off like that. It was something that Sam had in his head very early on, this upside down kiss. I know it was painful, but it really is a signature moment of the movie."

In spite of that, Dunst has no regrets about her involvement with the web-slinging trilogy that raised a new generation of Marvel fans. "It's cool to be a part of things like that," she told Ross.

The actress also touched on how the original Spider-Man served as a precursor to the industry's modern-day obsession with building blockbuster cinematic universes based on comic book IP. "It was a very kind of indie-spirited film because we had Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire and Willem Dafoe. It was very much a smaller film in a bigger universe to me."

Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy is currently streaming on Peacock.