British character actor Alfred Molina, who last took on Salma Hayek as her husband in ''Frida,'' has a new sparring partner: Spider-Man. In the 2004 sequel to last summer's web-crawling smash, Molina will take on Tobey Maguire as Dr. Octopus, a deranged scientist who attaches four giant metal arms to himself, according to Columbia Pictures. ''Alfred Molina has a remarkable facility for everything from classic drama to mainstream comedy, and he is the ideal choice for Doc Ock,'' Columbia chairperson Amy Pascal said in a statement.
''He's thrilled -- who wouldn't be?'' says Molina's manager, Joan Hyler, adding that the 49-year-old actor will soon begin a physical training regimen. Though early reports suggested that the film might include more than one supervillain, Doc Ock is set to be the main bad guy in the as-yet-untitled sequel, a Columbia spokesperson says. Molina, who also appeared in ''Boogie Nights,'' will join a returning cast of Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, and James Franco. Director Sam Raimi will begin shooting in April.
The final credit for the film's screenplay has not yet been decided, though several writers -- including Michael Chabon (''The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay'') and the ''Smallville'' team of Miles Millar and Al Gough -- have written drafts. Insert octopus joke here.