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CNN LIVE AT DAYBREAK

The Man Who Almost Was Spiderman

Aired May 7, 2002 - 05:45   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Movie fans are still buzzing about "Spiderman." As you no doubt heard, the movie broke all sorts of records this past weekend at the box office. But this isn't the first time Hollywood has tried to bring the comic book hero to the big screen.

In fact, CNN's Paul Clinton caught up with an actor who almost was the webslinger (ph).

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOBEY MAGUIRE, ACTOR: Who am I, I'm Spider-Man.

PAUL CLINTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That's Tobey Maguire in the spandex suit. At 26, he's starring in the role of a lifetime in a blockbuster that's smashing box office records. For 43- year-old Scott Leva, it's a case of what might have been.

SCOTT LEVA, ALMOST SPIDER-MAN: Actually, in 1987 I was the No. 1 slated to play Peter Parker/Spider-Man for the film for Cannon. I was the guy.

CLINTON: In his 20s, Leva trained diligently to play the lead in the expected big screen version of the comic book. Marvel Comics hired him to make promotional appearances.

LEVA: They started using me in some cases as a model. And they did a photo cover, which I think was the only one where Peter is unmasked.

CLINTON: Being Spider-Man became a big part of Leva's life. He even suited up as Spidey for Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

LEVA: It was quite a history with me and Spider-Man.

CLINTON: In the '80s, high flying Cannon Films owned the movie rights to the character. But in a tale oft told in Hollywood, what looked like a sure thing never quite came to be. Cannon ran into financial problems and the rights were tied up in legal disputes for years, effectively ending Leva's dream of playing Spider-Man. Denied the part, Leva put his acrobatic training to use as a stunt man. Ironically, he wound up working on another movie based on a Marvel comic, X-Men.

LEVA: I was the fight choreographer. I set up a lot of the action and designed some of the action.

CLINTON: He donned the Spider-Man costume one more time for a gag appearance on the X-Men DVD.

(on camera): It was basically a role that was meant for you but you just sort of, unfortunately, outgrew it.

LEVA: Can't say I outgrew it. I hope I never outgrow it, but...

CLINTON: In terms of playing a high school student, Peter Parker.

LEVA: That I definitely. I once joked with Stanley (ph) that by the time the movie gets made I'll either be good for Jameson or Uncle Ben.

CLINTON (voice-over): Leva is written up in a current magazine devoted to Spider-Man.

LEVA: Speaking of history, I open this up and boom, here's an article, "The Man Who Was Almost Spider-Man." Scott Leva, the superhero nobody knows speaks out about the film that never was.

CLINTON: For Leva there are no hard feelings.

LEVA: It truthfully kind of broke my heart. I had such a love for the character. I still do and that my fingers are crossed that it's going to be everything I would hope it would be.

CLINTON: Paul Clinton, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSTELLO: And he could have been a millionaire. Oh well.

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