Saturday, August 29, 2015

INTERVIEW: Andrew Garfield Reflects on His Spider-Man Tenure

Earlier this week I chatted with actor Andrew Garfield as part of a roundtable interview for his terrific new flick 99 Homes, directed by Ramin Bahrani and co-starring Michael Shannon. I'll present that conversation when the film's release gets closer, but in the meantime I wanted to share a brief portion concerning his recently-concluded tenure as Marvel Comics' famous web-slinger.

Garfield headlined two Amazing Spider-Man films, in 2012 and 2014, but as he revealed to me, he never quite felt comfortable in Spidey's skin. Part of that may simply have been because of how important the character had been to him throughout his life. In 2011, the actor famously spoke at San Diego Comic Con about his love of Spider-Man, and my question spun off of that iconic moment:

About four years ago you were in front of the crowd at Comic Con, and you talked about what you learned from Spider-Man, growing up. What have you learned from being Spider-Man?

Well, nothing, because I was never Spider-Man. Because Spider-Man's a fictional character. He's not real. [laughs] You know what's funny, to give you the vulnerable answer, I thought I was going to be Spider-Man, you know? I went into it going...ego shit came in. It's like, "Okay, here it is. I'm f***ing Spider-Man. I f***ing made it." All that shit. [laughs] I didn't actually make it. I was never Spider-Man.

I was the actor that I am. The person that I am. Struggling with trying to match up with something that I'd elevated so high in my mind. Elevated beyond what I could attain, what I could achieve. The great thing is, that's what Peter Parker was doing as well. Peter Parker created this symbol that he couldn't live up to. It was never enough. He never felt enough, and I never felt enough. I never felt like I was able to do enough. And I couldn't rescue those films...even though I didn't sleep. [laughs]

And I wanted to...not to say that I needed to rescue those films, but I couldn't make them as deep and soulful as I could ever dream. And I'm never gonna be able to do that, with any film. It was especially difficult in that situation because...well, just because. And it was especially important because that character has always meant so much to me, and you saw that if you saw the Comic Con thing, which, thank you for reminding me about that.

I show that to my students four times a year. I teach speech and one of my assignments is a tribute speech. I say, "I want you to pay tribute to somebody who's important to you. Here's Andrew Garfield paying tribute to Spider-Man."

[pause] Okay. That's very sweet. That really hit me in a deep way. Thank you. [laughs] 'Cause it was so authentic. It was like, that was who I am.

And I say that. I say, "You can see the authenticity there, and that's what I want."

Thank you, man. [pause] F***. Thank you for saying that.

Thank you for sharing that with me, 'cause that was probably the highlight of the whole experience for me, 'cause it felt like, just me. Vulnerable. And terrified. And that could've really failed. That whole idea could've failed. And everyone told me it was going to. Emma [Stone] told me it was not a good idea. The studio said, "What the f*** are you thinking?!" And I was, "Just let me do one thing! Just one thing!" And to their credit they allowed it, and they saw that it worked. They trusted me a lot more after that, to their credit. So thank you for saying that. That was a gift you just gave me. Really.


Needless to say, not only was it great to get some of his insights on vacating the role, but this was just a pretty cool moment for me as an interviewer. Look for more from Andrew Garfield here in a few short weeks!

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