Eddie Brock, played by Topher Grace, is a smooth-talking, ambitious young photographer who becomes a rival for Peter’s job at the Daily Bugle. When Spider-Man finally rids himself of the sinister black substance, it finds Brock, who transforms into the deliciously evil Venom, also a Marvel fan favorite. In many ways, Venom is a reflection of Peter Parker himself; one might say that he is Peter’s own dark side come to life.
“We were really excited to bring Venom into the film, because it is a character that has its origins in Peter,” explains producer Grant Curtis. “When Spider-Man wears the black suit, the suit begins to take on the imprint and abilities of Spider-Man. When Peter rids himself of it, the substance moves to Eddie Brock, who is not as good a man as Peter. It transforms Brock, a person who feels universally ostracized, into Venom. Venom possesses some of the powers of Spider-Man, and he wants to lash out.”
“Venom is one of the most difficult characters for Spider-Man to defeat,” notes Arad. “Venom knows Spider-Man: how he feels, what his strengths are as well as his weaknesses. That is the ultimate enemy.”
“Venom has a unique origin story, and we looked forward to telling that story, doing justice to a character who is arguably one of the most popular Marvel characters of all time,” says Curtis. “Venom has the same powers that Spider-Man does, but it’s tweaked a bit more and he’s more aggressive – he can jump farther, swing farther, and run faster. In a way, it’s like watching Spider-Man battle his stronger self when you see the in-air ballet between the two. It’s very exciting to watch.”
The Marvel comic introduced Venom in the 1980s. He made his first appearance in The Amazing Spider-Man #298, and Eddie Brock appeared for the first time two issues later. Previously, Spider-Man’s black suit had first been featured on the cover of Secret Wars #8, in 1984.
Grace had been a Marvel fan for years, and he relished the opportunity to portray one of his all-time favorite villains: “I was reading the comics years ago when Venom appeared, and I remember thinking he was just the coolest, most charismatic character,” says Grace. “I was so honored just to come in to meet with Sam, Laura, and Avi; it was great to hear Sam outline the entire plot of the film. I was nervous and excited, and I still felt that way a year later, as we were shooting the film.”
After Grace was offered the role of Eddie Brock/Venom, director Sam Raimi discussed the character in depth with him. “Sam’s take on Venom being kind of an evil double of Peter was really interesting to me,” Grace continues. “We discussed that Venom delights in being evil. He gets drunk on that power very quickly.”
“Unlike Sandman, who is present very early in the film, my character, Eddie, undergoes a very slow transformation – it’s woven in throughout the story,” says Grace. “You wonder if Peter hadn’t been under the spell of something so terrible, would Eddie have had to go so far. It’s one of the many intriguing aspects of the story, having Peter Parker be one of the reasons that a villain is born.”
Ziskin says that Grace was the ideal choice to portray Eddie Brock/Venom. “Topher is spectacular, just riveting! He’s fun and scary, and a great addition to the ensemble.”
Grace, a self-described “skinny guy,” put on about 15 to 20 pounds for the role, working out during the several months before shooting began. During pre-production, Grace was subjected to body scans and motion capture data analysis for use by the costume and visual effects departments.
“They were doing a scan of my body, and someone mentioned that the scan would be really helpful for making my action figure. My action figure!” recalls Grace. “It hadn’t even occurred to me that I would become an action figure! It was very exciting.”