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Stateside: Maguire's hard graft getting fit for Seabiscuit role.

Byline: Dan Farley

SEABISCUIT, nominated for a Golden Globe Award as best motion picture of 2003, was very hard work according to one of its stars.

Tobey Maguire, who played the part of jockey Red Pollard, said in a recent interview that, by comparison, his role as Spider-Man was physically much easier.

"I did all this training for about ten weeks," says Maguire of preparing for his Seabiscuit role. "Then I got on a horse for the first time. When I got off the horse, my legs were completely noodles, just overcooked noodles.

"I was working out and getting real strong and losing a lot of weight, but when you get on a real horse, it's a whole different deal. You're using all the stabilising muscles in your legs and balancing on the balls of your feet on this 1,200-pound elite athlete."

Maguire has been on a conditioning rollercoaster for his recent movies. For

Spider-Man he put on weight and muscle, for Seabiscuit he shed weight while trying to maintain strength, and for the forthcoming Spider-Man II it was back to bulking up once again.

"It gets a little tedious," he says. "People are always talking about diets and, `Oh, it's so hard to lose weight'. Part of me really sympathises because if I wasn't getting paid to do it, if it wasn't part of my job, I'd never have done it."

As for the book version of the tale, Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand, an army reserve officer is putting together a campaign to make the story available to school children in Iraq. `Operation Seabiscuit' was begun after the officer, Lt. Col. Herman McGrew of Harwinton, Connecticut, emailed Hillenbrand to tell her how much some Iraqi schoolgirls he had met wanted to read the book in Arabic.

McGrew had told the girls that "this was a famous book about the greatest horse that ever lived, that there were millions of copies printed, that it was written by a woman, and that some of Seabiscuit's ancestors were Arabian horses".

Hillenbrand said she is hoping to buy 500 copies of the book in Arabic from an Egyptian publisher, and McGrew is arranging for the military to airlift the books to Iraq before he leaves at the end of January. "I'm giving a little bit back," says the author. "It looks like it's all going to come together."

Hillenbrand says of McGrew: "He's just a wonderful guy. He cares so much about these people. He's my hero."

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Tobey Maguire prepares for `action' as jockey Red Pollard aboard Seabiscuit
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jan 2, 2004
Words:431
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