PARK CITY, Utah — We'll probably never know the full extent of what Sam Raimi had planned for "Spider-Man 4," including widespread rumors that John Malkovich would play the villain Vulture. Sony Pictures bailed on the project early last year and is currently rebooting the franchise with Marc Webb in the director's chair.
But pieces of Raimi's aborted "Spider-Man" puzzle could drip out in the future. In fact, J.K. Simmons, who played Daily Bugle head honcho J. Jonah Jameson, kicked MTV News a puzzle piece when he outlined his character's planned arc for the flick.
"J. Jonah Jameson was going to be somehow exiled or disgraced or demoted and end up in some little cubicle somewhere and be railing, even more than usual, against the world," Simmons told us at the Sundance Film Festival.
The actor was in town to promote "The Music Never Stops," a moving drama about a man whose brain tumor renders him unable to differentiate past from present. But our talk inevitably turned to the "Spider-Man" that will never be, and Simmons admitted he was sad to see his version of the franchise die off — not least because it meant he wouldn't get to cash that hefty check.
"I'm still reeling from the rug being pulled out of us," he said. "I had just bought a house I can't afford!"
Shortly before Sony pulled the plug, Simmons had been eying work on another three "Spider-Man" films and was having creative meetings with Raimi.
"There wasn't a script-script yet, but I had seen Sam a few weeks before that and we talked about story ideas, because on those movies, we always started on the script and we expanded on it," he explained. "There was a lot of either us coming up with stuff in the room or doing it literally on set — a lot of improv-y stuff with the whole cast in those office scenes."
Simmons added: "He was saying, 'This is the basic outline, now go bring me funny stuff.' "