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Grand Forks native was double in 'Spider-Man' movie

GRAND FORKS - In his youth, Andrew Lander spent much time reading Spider-Man and X-Men comic books.

When the former Grand Forks resident became a teenager, his passion turned to acting.

So, you might imagine his elation when he was chosen to play the lead character in the recently released "The Amazing Spider-Man" movie.

"The first time I got to put on the Spider-Man suit, I literally could not contain my excitement," he said from Los Angeles. "I spent so much time as a child pretending to be Spider-Man or some other superhero and now it was like I was the proxy of him."

OK, readers, calm down. The 2005 Red River High School graduate actually didn't play the lead role; you would have heard about it sooner if he had. The main Spidey was actor Andrew Garfield.

However, Lander was a Spider-Man "double." His time on the screen probably totaled less than a minute of the 136-minute movie, divided into 10 segments when he was wearing the mask or playing the Peter Parker role in street clothes. He didn't have any lines, but the movie's listing on his resume is certain to turn heads.

And it was an 18-month job, as he was involved in the testing of the suit, cameras and techniques before the actual film-making began. His boss was the movie's director of photography.

"I've done other things with more screen time, but this is by far the biggest and greatest thing I have worked on," he said. "Because of 'Spider-Man,' it's allowed me to take more time off from my job and focus on the acting thing."

While movies are his dream, being a waiter has paid the rent the last four years.

"We're literally a dime a dozen out here," he said. "You'd be hard-pressed to find a waiter or bartender here who is not an actor, model, singer or dancer.

"If you go to Starbucks, everyone is either writing the next great movie script or aspiring to act in it."

However, the 25-year-old son of Tom and Karen Lander now has hope that the "Spider-Man" appearance will cast a wide, ahem, web.

"I've come to realize that acting requires putting in the time, dedication and passion for it.," he said. "I feel strongly now that it will work out. I feel fortunate to have done what I have so far and am eager to see what the future holds."

Even if he doesn't reach stardom, he'll always have Stan Lee. On the movie set, he met Lee, who was the writer and editor of the Spider-Man series published by Marvel Comics.

"In the geek world, Stan Lee is a legend," Lander said. "And I will admit that I'm a geek."

Maybe so, but being an on-screen Spider-Man, even for less than a minute, is so, so, so cool.