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Tobey Maguire: Spider-Man, Frugal Man

By Vicki McClure Davidson


Even after becoming a household name for his iconic super-hero role in Spider-Man, Tobey Maguire has continued to be careful with his money.

Because of his rocky and modest upbringing, the young actor remained frugal, reluctant to spend his cash even when his earnings per film sky-rocketed.

Tobey Maguire... frugal superhero | Photo credit:
Tobey Maguire... frugal superhero. | Photo credit: width=

Maguire’s parents were unmarried and just 18 and 20 when their son, Tobias Vincent Maguire, was born. They did get married, but divorced when he was about 3 years old. As a result, Maguire spent a "difficult" childhood living at times with various relatives in several different states as a boy. In a 2007 People magazine interview, he said, "If you stripped away everything I've got—the money, the fame, the possessions, everything—I know that I'd find a way to get along, because, basically, that's what I've had to do all my life."

On growing up poor, Maguire shared his feelings and memories during a 2002 CNN interview. "When I was a little kid, I don't think it affected me. I did feel it as I got older, because you start to compare yourself to other kids. I look back and feel it must have been tough on my parents because of the times I would be embarrassed by rolling up in the $400 beat-up orange truck, or getting groceries with food stamps. But there were also time when things were fine and there was enough money to get nice Christmas gifts, let alone have a roof over my head and eat."

He told Parade magazine in an interview, "When I first started being successful at this, financially speaking, I was very conservative with my money. That was definitely a product of my upbringing. You know those Lotto winners who win big and then blow all the money? That would never happen to me."

Tobey Maguire in photo still from 'Spiderman 3'"
Tobey Maguire in photo still from 'Spiderman 3'

By the mid 1990s, after dropping out of high school, Maguire steadily worked in commercials, television, and films (his film debut was in the 1993 A Boy's Life, becoming close friends with co-star Leonardo DiCaprio, whose character's name in the film was ironically "Toby").

He became caught up in the hard-drinking lifestyle of some of his fellow teen actors. In 1995, Maguire requested director Allan Moyle to release him from his part in the movie Empire Records. Moyle agreed, and all of Maguire's scenes were deleted from the final film. Maguire then sought help for an under-aged drinking problem from Alcoholics Anonymous; he has been sober ever since.

Maguire believes his frugal lifestyle will keep him free of the strings attached to living high on the hog. In an interview, he said, ""I just never wanted to put myself in the position where my spending was so huge that I had to keep making movie after movie."

The popular successful actor, who was once considered for the role of Will Turner in Pirates of the Caribbean, has moved into film production. He has analyzed the pitfalls of Hollywood and how they affect so many others. He said, "I think fame is a really complicated thing. It can be a great challenge to handle the difficult parts of it and strengthen your character so you don't get affected in a negative way by it. And I'm scared and excited and hesitant and anxious. I'm conflicted about it, truly."

Despite earning $4 million for the first Spider-Man film and $26 million for Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man 3, the comic-book-based sequels, Maguire still dresses casually and is usually photographed wearing lived-in T-shirts and jeans.

Maguire has been nominated for a number of acting awards for his performances in The Cider House Rules, Wonder Boys, and Seabiscuit, and received Saturn awards for his performances in Pleasantville and Spider-Man 2. He also won the Teen Choice award for the first Spider-Man film.

Maguire and his wife Jennifer were married in 2003 and now have a daughter and son. Despite his frugal tendencies, in 2008, he bought an acre of property to build a home in the super-pricey Brentwood area of Los Angeles. That, though, isn't frivolous, but a wise investment for his family.

This was reported by Daily Finance about Maguire in November 2011:

Even after his price jumped up to $26 million a picture thanks to three 'Spider Man' mega-hits, Maguire is usually snapped wearing lived-in t-shirts and jeans. "You know those Lotto winners, who win big and blow through all that money? That would never happen to me," says Maguire, who credits his poverty-stricken childhood as the impetus for his quest for financial security. "I just never wanted to put myself in the position where my spending was so huge that I had to keep making movie after movie."



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CNN Entertainment interview, "Tobey Maguire: A Thoughtful 'Spider-Man'" (// ca.s02.tobey.maguire/index.html), May 2, 2002.
Internet Movie Database, Tobey Maguire, (
Silverman, Stephen M., People magazine website, "Tobey Maguire Talks About His Rocky Childhood," ( article/0,,20033663,00.html), April 4, 2007.
Masello, Robert, Parade magazine website, "Tobey Maguire - Web Exclusive" (
/editions/2007/edition_04-01-2007/Tobey-Maguire), published April 8, 2008, posted September 2, 2008.
The Cheap Book website (, June 27, 2008.
WalletPop website, "Most Frugal Celebrities" (
Wikipedia website, (//