The Amazing Spider-Man is out today, and to mark the occasion, here’s the final instalment in our series of interviews, this one with Spidey himself, Andrew Garfield.
About to be propelled from valued character actor to global superstar, Garfield – the Brit-accented babyface best known thus far for The Social Network and Never Let Me Go – was greeted with a largely positive response when he was announced as the new Peter Parker.
The 28-year-old might be some 11 years older than the teen he plays on screen, but his wiry frame, smart quipping, unforced humility and luxuriant shock of hair make him an ideal screen foil for the iconic comic-book character.
We caught up with Garfield at Sony’s press conference in Cancun, where he spoke casually about carrying a reinvented blockbuster on his shoulders.
Read our full Andrew Garfield interview:
Can you tell us a little bit about how different Peter Parker is this time compared to the other incarnations?
“Nah… No, not really. I can’t because I’m so close to it, I can’t explain… I don’t know what it is I did. I can’t describe what I did. I can only say that it was personal to me.
“I love Tobey and I love what he did, and I don’t want to compare or contrast or say what’s different or whatever. I think the point is that it’s just another chapter, and we’ve brought our own personal relationship to it.”
It looks a little darker…
“Well, there was always that element in the comics, y’know, there was always that trickster element, and the reality of a teenage kid who’s been suppressed, and dropped by his parents, who’s been bullied, who’s been orphaned, who puts on a brave face, who’s got a good inner core, who’s been mistreated and hasn’t got the strength to fight back, finally getting those powers…
"There’s something very, very natural, in terms of the cause and effect, that would happen. And there’s something human and funny and dark to explore in there. There’s a nice undercurrent to that which is kind of joyful in a dark way. I think we all understand.
“Any one of us who experienced a bully in the workplace, in our lives, in our families, in school, we’ve all imagined what we’d like to do to that person, and this is a kid who gets to act that out.
“There’s so much fun to be had with that, and of course it’s dangerous. There’s a very dangerous element to that, that we explore as well.”
What sort of training did you have to do, and are you an expert with the harnesses and swinging now? Could you join Cirque Du Soleil?
“No, I wish! I got pretty good at it, and I enjoyed it a lot. It was just like being in a playground really, it was just pure fun.
“But the guys I was working with are experts and geniuses – technical geniuses and physical geniuses – and thank god for them! They allowed me to play with it and be in as much of it as I could manage, and as much as they wanted me to do, and we split the difference.
“We all split the responsibility and we own it as much as each other."
Were you eating a special diet?
“Yeah, that was tough: a lot of bland food and existential dilemmas… with weights in my hands. It was a very confusing time in my life.”
How many hours a day did you have to work out?
“For four months prior we did… don’t get too excited… seven hours a day, for four months.
“But two hours was body work and the next three or four hours was all the other stuff like the harness stuff, gymnastics, parkour training, wire work and all that, but it was like summer camp, it was like circus school. Just pure fun.”
So what does that make you feel now, when you look at your body?
“Oh, well now I’ve let myself go. Now I’m back into my life. I’ve sustained it a little bit, but at the time… you get high on yourself.
“You can’t help it, because it doesn’t belong to you, you’ve never associated yourself with having a body [like that]. Well for me anyway, I was just always what I was, which was a skinny kid who had that body.
“And when you realise you can manipulate your body, it’s empowering, but it’s just so much work, and now you’re like ‘Fuck it, I don’t ever want to do that again. I’d rather eat doughnuts.' Like we all would.”
But presumably you are going to have to do it all over again if there’s a sequel?
“[Laughs] Yeahhhh….[Laughs] Yeah, but you know, it’s not a terrible thing for someone to employ you and say ‘Your job is to get in shape’. I can’t really complain about that too much.”
So what was the first thing you ate [after the shoot finished]?
“Haha, that’s a good question. What was it? I remember, I remember what it was. I remember it was something very specific.
“It was a Tres Leches cake, from Animal, which is my favourite restaurant in Los Angeles, and it’s the most beautiful cake you’ve ever witnessed. It’s covered in caramel and it’s just pure heaven, and I remember it very well.”
What music did you listen to while you worked out?
“Well the music I was listening to was linked to what I wanted the character to be, the feeling I wanted the character to have.
“I was listening to a lot of Arcade Fire, I was listening to a lot of Sleigh Bells, Odd Future collective… those guys are crazy. And then some more melancholy stuff, like a lot of Ryan Adams and Bright Eyes, and a lot of hip hop, like Nas and The Pharcyde. An eclectic array of stuff. A lot of modern stuff.”
Who gave you the music? Marc [Webb – director]?
“No, that was me. It was just what I felt.”
Do you watch TV or do you prefer reading books?
“Oh man, I wish I could say reading, but I’m working at the moment, and I haven’t really had much time to read.
“When I’m working on something very intense – like this was very intense to work on, believe it or not, and I’m doing a play at the moment which is very, very intense - whenever I’m not on stage I wanna watch reality television.
“I wanna watch, like, The Voice or The Bachelor… Don’t be surprised by that, it’s the greatest show on TV! And also I really enjoy Girls. Have you seen it? [Lena Dunham]’s genius! And she directed it, and acts in it… she’s genius. She’s unbelievable, she’s sickening. God damn her! She’s brilliant, so I think I’m going to get into that show.
“But that’s a bit too high art for me at the moment, I just want to do something completely mindless and stupid.”
Do you have any other guilty pleasures?
“Oh yeah, plenty. I mean, I love stupid movies. I love stupid everything really, I need a lot of stupidity in my life. For some reason I work on very austere, serious stuff, but stupid stuff is my favourite.”
How hard was it using the mask?
“You can see out of it. The vision is difficult, but it’s not terrible. It’s restricted. But it’s fine.
“I got claustrophobic one day: there was a scene with water and I dipped my face in it stupidly, because I needed to get the suit more wet. I just rolled around in it, and I got loads of water on my nose and I couldn’t breathe, so that was tough. I waterboarded myself and it was the most terrifying thing in the world.
“That’s what the stunt coordinator Andy [Armstrong] said: ‘You just waterboarded yourself, you fucking moron.’ [Laughs]. And I was like, ‘Yeah, I know.’ And the suit takes so long to get out of, I was suffocating for, like, a good minute. It was awful. It was tough.”
How long did it take to get into the suit?
Do you now think about what Spider-Man would do in everyday situations throughout your life?
“No I don’t, y’know, I don’t. At the time I was only thinking in that way. It was like every room I went into or every street I went on, I’d be like, ‘I could do that, I could do that…’
“But no, I tried to let it go. It was a long time we were shooting it for. We were shooting it for a good year really, on and off. Maybe even longer.”
Henry Cavill is playing Superman, so that’s two Brits playing two American icons. So do you think there’s something about being British – as an outsider to the Americans – that enhances the role?
“I don’t know, I’m American, so I don’t really know. I was born in America, but of course I was raised in England so I know what you’re saying.
“No, I don’t think so, I don’t think that for me. I connect with the character, and I feel American in a lot of ways and I feel British in a lot of ways, because I’ve had equal influence in my life. So no, not for me.
“I think Henry Cavill just looks like Superman, right? And he’s a great actor, right? I don’t know anything about him, but he just seems like a really good actor and he looks the part, so that’s that.”
So you haven’t swapped stories about suits then?
“No. There’s a lot to talk about there. I didn’t even think about that - that’s a great idea. Godammit. I should have done that.”
Any thoughts on a sequel?
“I don’t know, it’s not up to me. I’m just getting through this first and we’ll see what happens after that.”
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