By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist January 11, 2011 at 2:32AM
Is Marc Webb taking a leaf from the Christopher Nolan casting playbook? Since "Batman Begins," Nolan's made something of a habit of casting 1980s icons who've mostly been absent from the big-screen in recent years, names like Rutger Hauer, Eric Roberts, Tom Berenger and even David Bowie, in his big-screen works -- a curious, although mostly successful trait. Now, one more name's been announced for the "Spider-Man" reboot, and like many of Nolan's favorites, it's an actor who hasn't been seen in anything with such a high-profile for a few decades.
EW has confirmed reports that 80s star C. Thomas Howell, best known for his roles in "E.T," "Red Dawn," "The Outsiders" and "The Hitcher," has joined the cast of Webb's reboot of "Spider-Man," which is currently shooting. Howell's representatives confirm that the actor will be playing the role of "Ray," although there are no other clues as to what the part will entail.
Since his 80s heyday, Howell's worked consistently, but mostly on TV or in direct-to-video fare: his last theatrical part of note was in the Viggo Mortensen vehicle "Hidalgo," while upcoming roles include the not-terribly-promising-sounding "Camel Spiders" and "Rape Kit" (the latter is, admittedly, a short film, but still...). Our best guess is that Howell's role won't be a huge one -- something about the size of Anthony Michael Hall's performance in "The Dark Knight" seems about right, particularly as the name 'Ray' has little-to-no-significance in the comic's history. Our best guess: the thug who kills Peter Parker's Uncle Ben.
Even though the project's been before cameras for over a month now, there still seem to be a few missing pieces in the casting puzzle -- most notably the role of J. Jonah Jameson, Peter Parker's cantankerous boss at the Daily Bugle. Reports from months back linked John Slattery and Sam Elliot to the role, but there's been no word since then, which begs the question -- is Jameson even in the film? It wouldn't be unheard of for the initial reports to have been wrong, or even for script changes to have been made over time -- witness initial reports that Cyclops and Jean Grey would be present in "X-Men: First Class," for instance. Or, fingers crossed, J.K. Simmons has had his services retained... (unfortunately, there's no way this'll happen, but anyone taking on the part has a big shadow to escape from).
Either way, the shoot is underway, with a cast led by Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy, with Rhys Ifans and Irffan Khan as the villains, and Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Denis Leary, Campbell Scott, Julianne Nicholson, Annie Parisse and Chris Zylka also among the cast. Webb's put together quite the ensemble, and this is one superhero reboot that we're feeling optimistic about. It hits theaters on July 3, 2012 in glorious 3D.