Topher to Grace Spider-Man 3

Director Sam Raimi and producers Laura Ziskin and Marvel Studio’s Avi Arad announced today that Topher Grace (In Good Company, TV’s That ’70s Show) has joined the cast of Spider-Man 3. Grace will join returning cast members Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst and James Franco, as well as new villain Thomas Haden Church (Sideways, TV’s Wings).

Sony is keeping a tight lid on which character Grace will play in the third Spidey installment, which goes into production early next year and is scheduled to sling into theaters worldwide on May 4, 2007. Also tightly under wraps are details about Church’s character and the script in general, which was written by veteran Alvin Sargent (Spider-Man 2, Unfaithful).

“I couldn’t be more excited about the direction we are taking the continuing adventures of Peter Parker,” Raimi comments. “Topher Grace is an extraordinarily talented actor and will be perfect for the complexities of the role we are developing.”

This will be Grace’s first role in a major Hollywood blockbuster, having eased into feature films with a supporting role in Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic, followed by a lead performance in Robert Luketic’s romantic comedy, Win a Date With Tad Hamilton, and another romantic lead in Dylan Kidd’s indie pic, P.S. Spider-Man 3 will also reunite him with Dunst, with whom he worked on last winter’s Mona Lisa Smile.

To date, the Spider-Man film franchise has grossed more than $1.5 billion in worldwide ticket sales. Spider-Man 3 is being overseen by Columbia’s president of production, Matt Tolmach, and director of development Shannon Gaulding.