Rhys Ifans is playing the bad guy in the next "Spider-Man." But the filmmakers aren't saying yet which character he'll be. Sony Pictures announced Monday that Ifans, widely known as a comic actor in such films as Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant's "Notting Hill," will co-star as the villain in the superhero adventure due out July 3, 2012.
The studio's announcement notes that the "filmmakers prefer to not reveal which character Ifans will be playing."
The Marvel Comics vaults are loaded with villains that Spider-Man has taken on over the decades.
Whoever he winds up playing, Ifans will be up against Andrew Garfield, who stars as Peter Parker, the ordinary youth transformed by the bite of a mutant spider into the web-slinging superhero.
"What sets the Spider-Man villains apart is the complexity of their relationships with Peter Parker," said Marc Webb ("(500) Days of Summer"), who is directing the new "Spider-Man." "Rhys' incredible ability to embody both warmth and rage makes him the ideal choice for this character."
Sony cast Welsh actor Ifans, 43, as the Spidey bad guy after executives saw his performance in the studio's upcoming Shakespeare historical thriller "Anonymous." Ifans plays Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford, who some scholars theorize was the actual author of Shakespeare's plays and poems.
Ifans played Grant's offbeat roommate in 1999's "Notting Hill." He co-starred in this year's "Nanny McPhee Returns" and Ben Stiller's comic drama "Greenberg," along with 2009's disc jockey romp "Pirate Radio." He also co-stars in next month's "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1."
The casting choice follows last week's announcement that Emma Stone will co-star as Gwen Stacy in the new "Spider-Man" movie, which begins shooting in December.