How you know ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ villain Rhys Ifans

Meriah Doty
Movie Talk

If you haven't already placed him, 44-year-old Welsh actor (and musician) Rhys Ifans probably seems very familiar to you.

He plays evil scientist-turned-lizard Dr. Curt Connors in "The Amazing Spider-Man." But Ifans is perhaps best known for his role as Hugh Grant's seriously disheveled roommate Spike in the 1999 romantic comedy "Notting Hill," also starring Julia Roberts.

Ifans' filmography is quite long, but he hasn't taken a role of this magnitude since "Hill."

[Related: See showtimes for 'The Amazing Spider-Man']

Often portraying characters that evoke an intellectual Mick Jagger-type ("Pirate Radio," "Human Nature") Ifans' real-life wild side seems to contribute to his on-screen partied-out air: He's been known to get into early-morning drunken tiffs, and just last year he was arrested after an alleged quarrel with a security guard at San Diego's massive annual geek gathering Comic-Con while celebrating his birthday -- he was there to promote "Spider-Man." (Thank god the movie is out before this year's Comic-Con fête!)

Whether you blame his run ins with the law on extreme method acting or his natural bad boy propensities, it's hard to argue against the idea that it adds to his on-screen persona.

Contributing to that appeal, Ifans is also a real life rocker, having played in '90s Welsh psychedelic rock band Super Furry Animals, and later, lesser known band, The Peth -- formed by SFA's drummer.

[Related: 'The Amazing Spider-Man' director Marc Webb talks Andrew Garfield, '500 Days of Summer' and needing a vacation]

Professionally, Ifans has done almost exactly what he was trained to do in his youth: Having grown up in North Wales, he finished his primary schooling and moved to London to train at Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He also studied acting as a youth at Clwyd Theatr in Wales.

On his involvement in the upcoming Spidey reboot, he compared the famous comic tale to Shakespeare, a likely reflection of his early acting training and his background in theater (from the L.A. Times):

"There are these enduring, socially mirroring qualities that Spider-Man has that begs us to revisit him... He's in a sense a spokesman for every generation. And like all great albums, or movies, or pieces of literature, we revisit them. 'Hamlet' is prepared dozens of times, and nobody ever says 'Why the … are we doing that again?' "

Ifans' next project on the horizon is depression-era drama "Serena," coming out next year, also starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper.

"The Amazing Spider-Man" swings into theaters Tuesday.

Watch Rhys Ifans In 'The Amazing Spider-Man' Clip: