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Tobey Maguire and the Succès de Scandale

We’d like to congratulate Tobey Maguire on a scandal well played.

As we learned a few months ago, Maguire was said to be participating in high-stakes card games run by con man Bradley Ruderman and a made-for-Page-Six bombshell named Molly Bloom. Now, he’s agreed to pay back $80,000 (of the more than $300,000 that he won) to settle a lawsuit brought by a group of investors who had been bilked by Ponzi-schemer Ruderman.

In Maguire’s case, it’s what we call the good kind of controversy. Here’s why:

As far as tabloid fodder goes, it has just the right amount of illicit elements to titillate while causing zero collateral career damage. There are no apologies to be made, no embarrassing Twitpics, no community service or stint in rehab.

If anything, Maguire comes out of this looking something like a badass: hanging out in opulent Beverly Hills hotel rooms with the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Pete Sampras. All the while, quietly raking in some $300,000 (Maguire, a World Series of Poker veteran, is known as a steely player).

In the end, it’s the kind of trouble that we want our movie stars to get in: high-class, slightly nefarious dealings in a world more glamorous than our own. The kind of thing we could imagine Errol Flynn getting mixed up in. Compare that with the anti-Semitic tirades of Mel Gibson, Charlie Sheen’s traveling freak show or the full-court press of insanity that is Randy Quaid.

Using a time-honored technique (known as throwing money at the problem), the whole episode gets swept under the rug and we can all go back to seeing Maguire for the talented actor he is... one whose image is now just slightly more glowing in our collective imagination.

And in that regard, he just finished filming the role of Nick Carraway in a little something called The Great Gatsby.

Stay gold, Tobey.