Andrew Garfield Interview – Spiderman 2
LOS ANGELES – Andrew Garfield is madly in love with Emma Stone and almost as devoted to his Spider-Man alter ego. Having surfed in Hawaii, strolled about London, and dined along the French Riviera over the past several months, Garfield and Stone are a very happy couple these days. Of course, the fact that they are co-starring in upcoming blockbuster, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, makes things rather more complicated when it comes to avoiding the paparazzi and deflecting questions about their relationship. But Garfield is very forthcoming about how this Spider-Man sequel takes the saga of Peter Parker to the next level.
“We’ve laid a foundation and now we can fly,” Garfield says. “In the first instalment it was a case of establishing the characters and now (in the sequel) we have the freedom to develop the characters and expand and explore the relationships between them. Peter is still a mess, but as Spider-Man he’s able to use his powers to the fullest and he’s able to enjoy being in a relaxed and playful state of mind. He’s heroic but he’s not boring! Spider-Man has more of a swagger this time around.”
Having earned over $700 million at the box-office with the first one, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is primed to hit the billion-dollar mark once it hits the screens in April. Now 30, Garfield admits to having gained a “greater measure of confidence” in his own life and his work in earlier films like Never Let Me Go and The Social Network have gained him good standing in Hollywood. He is able to project the angst and embrace the confusion of his Spidey character, and that should make this latest chapter in the film franchise all the more compelling. He and Stone, 25, have abundant chemistry on and off the screen, and their relationship is part of what has reignited interest in the franchise that formerly co-starred Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst.
Though Stone herself has intimated that her character Gwen Stacy may not survive past The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Garfield remains her greatest fan:
“She’s a great gal, and, as we all know, a singular talent, like a completely unique, singular talent. She just was born like a purebred, in terms of you just say `go’ and she goes. It’s infuriating because I can’t keep up with it. So it’s beautiful to work with such an incredibly talented and wonderful person, ” said Garfield in a previous interview.
Garfield and Stone live most of the year in Los Angeles although they spend considerable time in New York as well where they enjoy more freedom from prying photographers. In conversation, the Los Angeles-born but London-raised Andrew Garfield is impeccably polite, thoughtful, and introspective, and shares much of his Social Network’s character Eduardo Saverin’s earnest perspective on life. In his spare time, Garfield is actively involved in charitable work on behalf of the Starlight Children’s Foundation and the Worldwide Orphans Foundation. Soon
Q: Andrew, is it still just as much a thrill playing Peter Parker and Spider-Man this time around as it was in the first film?
GARFIELD: I feel even more deeply attached to the character now. I grew up wanting to be Peter Parker and Spider-Man. He was my hero as a little kid and being asked to play the part was a dream come true. I looked up to him and when I was a teenager I went through a lot of the personal struggles that Peter does and that’s part of what makes him so interesting to audiences. You can share and relate to those feelings. Now that I’ve had the chance to play him in two films, I understand more than ever how hard is life is and the burden that he has taken on. Peter is the classic underdog and someone whose evolution I’ve followed in the comic books all the way up to the first film when Tobey Maguire began playing him.
Q: Do you feel a burden yourself in terms of carrying on the lore and legend of the character and the comic book mythology?
GARFIELD: I take the responsibility very seriously. It’s an honour to be able to be part of this myth and take the legend further. It’s almost a sacred trust to be given the opportunity to put your stamp on a character that is such a rich part of the public imagination. I never really imagined that I could ever actually be playing a role that I had identified with while I was growing up.
Q: Given the enormous amount of money that’s at stake with this kind of a film, does that add even more pressure?
GARFIELD: You don’t think about that. Your focus is on doing the best job in terms of your own work and your collaboration with the other extraordinary actors that are part of the film. I can’t put any more pressure on myself than I already do without thinking about anything else that I don’t have any control over.
We had an incredible script and the writers Bob Orci and Alex Kurtzman love the character as much as I do. I will never forget sitting in a restaurant in New York when they first went through the script with me – I started crying because I found it so moving.
Q: Do you felt that gave a new impetus to the Spider-Man saga?
GARFIELD: What was exciting was that they’re (Orci and Kurtzman) Spider Man fans and we were off to the races with them. This film has so much joy and humour and playfulness and there’s deep stuff, frothy stuff, playful stuff to this story. They added so much to the narrative about Peter Parker being all messed up and trying to figure it out and failing. Right away I saw that it had the potential to be something extraordinary.
Q: How does Peter Parker’s relationship with Gwen Stacy evolve in this film?
GARFIELD: It’s a struggle. Peter feels this huge sense of responsibility to the work he does as Spider-Man. It’s like he’s an emergency aid worker and the call to get in the ambulance and go to the rescue can come at any time.
You’re always on call and he can be in the middle of a deep conversation with Gwen or getting on his knee to propose and then he’s got to take off and answer the call to duty. “I really have to go. Sorry, please don’t hate me. I love you.” (Laughs)
That’s what his life is like. He might have this superhuman side to him, but otherwise he’s as emotionally confused and clueless as anyone else. Dealing with relationships isn’t something he has any more capacity to handle than anyone else let alone someone who has this double life that will keep intruding on the relationship between Peter and Gwen.
Q: What is the nature of the dynamic between Peter Parker and his Spider-Man alter-ego?
GARFIELD: What I discovered is that Peter is his little brother in a way. He’s in the shadows and Spider-Man gets all the power, the attention, and he gets to live out his fantasy life. When he gets home, Peter has all the bangs and the bruises and the aches and the pains, and the adrenalin has left his body, and he has to look in the mirror and he has to see a real boy in the mirror as opposed to this symbol that’s greater than any human being.
That dynamic is really, really interesting – this inner dynamic between the older brother and the younger brother. It’s complicated as it should be. Peter Parker has historically been complicated, and the more complicated, the better. The more guilt, the better. The more pain, the better for Peter. And the more joy and pleasure for Spider-Man, the better. Those two things were really fun to play.
Q: Is it easier to play Parker/Spider-Man the second time around?
GARFIELD: I was much more relaxed in terms of the actual work. On the first film, I had a hard time sleeping while we were shooting because I was so anxious and hard on myself because I wanted to get everything right.
The responsibility of playing the part weighed on me very heavily and I was very hard on myself. That often left me exhausted and sometimes I didn’t feel that I was able to get to the place where I needed to be emotionally and physically.
On this film we had a big advantage because we didn’t need to spend as much time on exposition the way we did in the first one where it was necessary to reintroduce the characters. That meant that we weren’t able to develop the characters as much as we would have liked to. But this time out all felt we owned our characters and could build on that in a much more interesting way.
Q: What is your first memory of working with your co-star Emma Stone?
GARFIELD: It was like I woke up when she came in. She was the last person to screen-test, and I was so bored of it by then that I was mucking about – I’d been pretending I was Tom Hanks or Seth Rogen. And then she came in, and it was like diving into white-water rapids and having no desire to hang on to the side. Throughout shooting, it was wild and exciting. I couldn’t help but try to stay with her, keep pace with her, and not let her get away. (Laughs)…I was just trying to keep up with her!
Q: How has your life changed since Spider-Man?
GARFIELD: I’m taking one day at a time and making sure I keep going back to London to see my school friends and my family, so they can make sure I don’t turn into an arse. They can make sure I can stay grounded. I’m going to focus on what I want to focus on, which is doing the work and getting lost in this world.
Q: Do you ever feel like a superstar celebrity?
GARFIELD: No, and I will never feel that way. I would rather not spend very much time dealing with the celebrity aspect of things. I want to stay the observer as much as possible rather than feeling like the observed. I’m still not that far removed from the young guy who struggled just like Peter Parker with his identity and spent a lot of time worrying about life and figuring it all out. Even though I’ve had this success of late that doesn’t change my underlying self-perception and the reality of who I am. It will be a long time before I get over the feeling that the attention and fame is something very strange and surprising to me.
Q: Does the constant photo-taking and tweeting start to wear you down?
GARFIELD: You start to become self-conscious of being out in public. Just by the mere fact of being aware that people might be taking photos of you you’re not always able to forget that your work is attracting that kind of attention and curiosity. You really want to be able to just go about your normal, boring life without sometimes being taken out of that everydayness because you’re aware that people are watching you and taking your photo. You don’t want to fall into the habit of always being “on” and being aware of your visibility.
Q: How do you recall the time where you were growing up in Surrey and compare that to your life today?
GARFIELD: Surrey wasn’t the kind of place where people aimed to be in the arts. It was more of an environment where you were expected to aspire to professions like doctor or lawyer and lead a nice normal life. In school I was bullied a lot and Spider-Man was a character I embraced because he gave me some hope. Not that I think of revenge when I’m playing him now! (Laughs)