Oscar History

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The Darling Buds of May: Aunt May

May's end snuck up on us so quickly. We meant to do far more of these "May" characters. But here is abstew with one final tribute to a darling bud named May...

Full Name:
May Parker aka "Aunt May" The complete name of the Aunt May from the comics is May Reilly Parker-Jameson (she later marries the father of The Daily Bugle's J. Jonah Jameson)

Film She Starred In: Although Aunt May has appeared in all of the recent Spider-Man big screen ventures of the past 12 years (5 and counting), let's focus on the first, Sam Raimi's 2002 film, simply named, Spider-Man.

Played By: Acclaimed British actress Rosemary Harris brings this Aunt May to life. Adding some gravitas to the film, Harris studied at the famed Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and is a nine-time Tony Award nominee (winning in 1966 for The Lion in Winter) and an Academy Award nominee for Best Supporting Actress in 1994's Tom & Viv. [More...]

Time and Location: Unlike Batman's fictitious Gotham City, Spider-Man takes place in a modern-day New York City even using real-life New York settings like the tram to Roosevelt Island as pivotal plot locations. May and Peter (Tobey Maguire) actually reside in the borough of Queens. 

First Appearance in the Film:

12:41 May appears in the background as her husband, the ill-fated Uncle Ben (Oscar-winner Cliff Robertson), changes a light bulb in the kitchen. She playfully ribs her husband not to fall on his ass.

Hobbies: Oh, nothing too fancy. She enjoys making stews, cooking Thanksgiving dinners (let's just hope Peter remembers the canned cranberry sauce), saying her prayers (well, when she's not interrupted by Green Goblin men on hoverboards), and just being a good listener and sounding board for Peter (she's the one that encourages him to tell Mary Jane–played by Kirsten Dunst–that he loves her).

Occupation: Aunt May is the ultimate homemaker and housewife. She is a loving maternal figure to Peter, whom she and Ben raised ever since his parents died. 



Green Goblin: Finish it! FINISH IT!


More About This May Flower: No offense to the current Aunt May, two-time Best Actress Oscar winner Sally Field, but Rosemary Harris is already the definitive version of the character. Appearing much more closely in appearance to the character as she appears in the comics, Harris radiates warmth and compassion making an indelible impression with her relatively short screen time. Nowhere nearly as flashy as a boy swinging on spiderwebs or Willem Defoe's terrifying face (with or without a creepy mask), it's her quiet moments with Peter that give the film's bombast an emotional connection.

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Reader Comments (7)

Rosemary Harris was one of the reasons why I enjoyed the first 2 Spider-Man films as she was one of the best things in the 2nd film. Especially that first fight between Spider-Man and Doc Ock.

May 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSteven

Always thought she was great in this; thanks for the article!

June 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

Marvelous lady.

June 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

They went younger with Field cos they cast young leads,i think that is why Harris had to go,i know this may not be popular but I love her 1994 supporting nominated work in the terrible Tom and Viv.

June 1, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermark

She's wonderful in the underrated (masterpiece?) Sunshine, playing an older version of her daughter Jennifer Ehle.

June 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

I adore Sally but Rosemary Harris just seems so right as Aunt May. She's a wonderfully distinctive actress who always makes an impression no matter how short her screen time is.

A good example of that is her tiny part as Pauline Swift, the somewhat dotty author in Crossing Delancy. In one scene she creates a fully realizedl character. A pretentious, somewhat annoying character but one that seems a whole person nonetheless.

June 1, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

I have to agree with everyone here, I adore Sally Field but Rosemary Harris is perfect in this role. She was always a standout for me in the first three films. She just brings so much warmth and soulfulness to her portrayal.

June 1, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterthefilmjunkie

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