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Sideways star to play Spider-Man 3 villain?

Story by: Jack Foley

SIDEWAYS star, Thomas Haden Church, has apparently been lined up to play Spider-Man's latest nemesis in the next instalment of the series, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The actor will follow in the footsteps of Willem Dafoe and Alfred Molina to appear in the movie, which is scheduled for release in May 2007.

It is not yet known which villain Church will play, as the makers are keen to keep the identity a secret.

But his casting places doubt upon speculation that the third film would find Tobey Maguire's webslinger facing off against his best friend, Harry Osborn (James Franco), whose father he killed in the original.

Church won many admirers for his Oscar-nominated performance in Sideways, which saw him cast as a roguish best friend, who determines to sow the last of his wild oats on the week before his wedding, while on a road trip with his best friend (Paul Giamatti).

Spider-Man director, Sam Raimi, is quoted as saying that Church would be 'a fantastic and challenging new nemesis' in the franchise which 'are driven by the great actors who have brought our villains to life'.

The 43-year-old star is currently voicing one of the characters in Charlotte's Web and recently appeared in Adam Sandler's Spanglish.

Spider-Man 3 is already expected to be one of the biggest box office hits of 2007, building on the success of the first two films, which made more than $1.5bn (£790 million) in global receipts.

Filming on the third part is expected to begin early next year.

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