Spidey Villain Goes to Church

Following his Oscar-nominated co-starring turn in the breakout indie hit, Sideways, Thomas Haden Church is entering the Rogues’ Gallery as the new baddie in Spider-Man’s life. The actor has been tapped to join the cast of Spider-Man 3, though studio is keeping a tight lid on which classic comic-book villain he will portray for the big screen.

Church will play opposite returning stars Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst in the third installment of the franchise, which has grossed more than $1.5 billion worldwide. As Spidey’s latest archenemy, Church joins the ranks of accomplished actors Willem Dafoe, who played the Green Goblin in the first film, and Alfred Molina, Spider-Man 2’s tentacled Doc Ock.

“In addition to the on-going relationship between Peter Parker and M.J., these films are driven by the great actors who have brought our villains to life,” says director Sam Raimi. “Thomas Haden Church will be a fantastic and challenging new nemesis and we all look forward to working with him.”

Before Sideways, Church was best known for playing Lowell Mather on the TV sitcom Wings from 1990 to 1995. He starred in, co-wrote and directed the 2003 comedy Rolling Kansas and recently played a small but pivotal role in the James L. Brooks feature, Spanglish. As he prepares to take on the web slinger, the in-demand thespian will provide one of the voices in upcoming live-action/animated feature adaptation of E.B. White’s classic children’s book, Charlotte’s Web.

Produced by Laura Ziskin and Marvel Studios’ Avi Arad, Spider-Man 3 will go into production early next year and is slated to arrive in theaters on May 4, 2007.