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"Spider-Man" Tobey Maguire is calling on Americans to be more supportive towards troops returning from combat overseas after playing an Afghanistan veteran in a gritty new film.

The movie star studied the treatment of soldiers as he played a Marine captain who survives captivity only to struggle with life back home in new drama Brothers, opposite Natalie Portman and Jake Gyllenhaal.

And he was far from impressed with what he learned.

He tells the Los Angeles Times newspaper, "In the area of our veterans coming home with traumas or PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) or whatever, it’s one of those issues that isn’t pretty to look at.

"We ask these people to fight for us and risk their lives, and certainly potentially alter their outlook of the world or how they react to things. I think it would be nice for us as a society to have some more awareness of what they go through, and to take on some more responsibility for the results of our asking them to go over there."

Maguire admits he has been changed forever after having to study the horror of war for the film: "I lost a lot of my joy while doing the movie."