- Associated Press - Thursday, November 4, 2010

DUBLIN, IRELAND (AP) - Welsh actor Rhys Ifans can’t stop smiling about being the bad guy.

He has scooped the role as the villain in the reboot of the “Spider Man” franchise; he’s earning acclaim for his lead performance as a notorious drug dealer in new British film “Mr. Nice”; and he’s shooting for an epic new TV movie called “Neverland,” where he gets to play Peter Pan’s nemesis, Captain Hook.

“I’m constantly suppressing a very wide smile,” Ifans told The Associated Press.

The 43-year-old actor is not allowed to talk about his role as the baddie in the web-slinging comic book adventure, but said he’s “very, very excited about it.

“It’s a great script, great director and the money ain’t bad,” he said.

Ifans may be best known for playing as Hugh Grant’s oddball roommate in 1999’s “Notting Hill.” Recent credits include “Pirate Radio” and “Greenberg” opposite Ben Stiller.

Ifans will be starring opposite American-born and British-raised Andrew Garfield, who is taking over as Peter Parker.

“It is quite cool this one, to have Spider-Man and his villain both from the U.K.,” Ifans said.

Ifans spoke to the AP on the set of his latest project in Dublin _ “Neverland,” a two-part television movie that will air next year.

Written and directed by Nick Willing, the fantasy aims to explain why Peter Pan ended up in the magical world where he never grows up and how Hook went from bad to worse.

“It’s every boy’s dream to play Captain Hook,” said Ifans. “We’ve all grown up with that myth and legend so big boots to fill but a lot of fun.”

Ifans has certainly had an impression on the young actor who plays Peter Pan.

“He’s so evil and it’s brilliant,” 14-year-old Charlie Rowe said.

Willing said “the reason why I imagined Rhys in the role is because he makes villainy sympathetic. You start to understand what it is that’s good about the terrible, evil things that he does, and that of course is the hallmark of any great villain.”

Ifans also has the support of his “Neverland” love interest Anna Friel, who appears as a power-mad pirate and seductress. Known for her role in “Pushing Daisies,” the actress is delighted that Ifans is being given his due.

“I was thrilled for him, I think it’s a job he really wanted and I think he’ll do it brilliantly,” she said.

“It’s nice to have European and English actors getting work in America but he’s been doing that for a long time. I think he’ll be great.”

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