Is anyone having a year like Andrew Garfield?
After a long hiatus on stage (which earned him a Tony Award), the actor burst into the fourth quarter of 2021 with back-to-back movie premieres in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” and “Tick, Tick … Boom!” The latter has placed him front and center in the Oscar contest in the best actor category. And then came December.
The cat is, well, out of the bag that Garfield, despite shrewd negatives, reprises his role as Peter Parker in Sony’s “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” alongside reigning webslinger Tom Holland and spider-man. OG Tobey Maguire.
Co-produced with Marvel, the latest film is approaching $ 1.4 billion at the global box office and has deeply satisfied fans of all ages and franchises. It also provides another dimension to Garfield’s skill set. In the same season, Garfield has played a tortured teenage hero, a morally bankrupt pastor, and a devoted entertainer teetering between ruin and revelation.
Garfield caught up with Variety to talk about his return to the Spider-Verse and the response to his portrayal of Jonathan Larson in “Tick, Tick … Boom!”
SPOILER WARNING: Read no further if you want to avoid “Spider-Man: No Way Home” spoilers.
Starting off simple, why did you say “yes” to “No Way Home”?
I didn’t expect to have a conversation again about the possibility of playing Peter Parker. I was very excited to be a fan again. But I got this call from Amy Pascal, Kevin Feige, and Jon Watts with this idea. It was immediately undeniable. It sounded unbelievably funny, unbelievably spiritual, mind-boggling, and thematically interesting. On a basic level, as a Spider-Man fan, just the thought of seeing three Spider-Men in the same frame was enough.
The court was really very tempting. They said, “You played this character in your own way and what would you like to explore if you had the chance? If you were thrown into this other universe and faced with this younger you and this older you, how would you respond?
We talk a lot about tutoring. We talk a lot about brotherhood and what it’s like to be an older brother, a younger brother, and a middle brother. There’s also something about seeing someone you love walking down a path you’ve already walked, and you know it doesn’t lead to the place you ultimately intended to go.
That character is isolated in his emotional and physical experience. But what happens when that loneliness snaps open and you realize that you’ve never been alone and that there are other siblings who are going through exactly the same thing? That’s a great spiritual journey to go on, man. And then we took advantage of all the fun we could have.
You and Tobey Maguire really did this. This was not a green screen installed in his driveway. And they have a profound impact on Tom Holland’s Spider-Man.
We were filming for two weeks, Tobey and I, but I think we managed to accomplish something other than just showing up and saying, “Hi! Bye! “My Spider-Man was able to save his little brother’s romantic relationship, potentially. And to heal the most traumatic moment of his own life by doing it for his little brother. Making sure he didn’t have the same fate, there’s something cosmically beautiful at that.it meant getting a second chance to save Gwen. [Stacy, Garfield’s love interest in “The Amazing Spider-Man” played by Emma Stone].
You know, the spirit that Zendaya brings to MJ is so sincere and pure and loving, and Emma brought her that unique spirit similar to Gwen.
Talk about your time with your fellow Spider-Men, what did you share off-screen? Compare notes on spandex and fans?
I think the first time we were all in the suit together, it was really funny because they’re like three normal guys who were just actors hanging out. But also, you just become a fan and say, “OMG we’re all in the suits together and we’re doing the pointing thing!” There was talk of going to the bathroom and, you know, circling the package. We talked about what worked for each of us. Tom was jealous because I have little zippers on my suit that I can get my hands out of very easily. To get her phone working, she had to use her nose because she couldn’t access her hands. We would also have deeper conversations and talk about our experiences with the character. And to have Amy Pascal there, who has seen nine movies, including “Spider-Verse.” It was an eye-opening experience for her, realizing how much life and time she had given this character. That was beautiful and deep.
There is a line that I improvised in the movie, watching [Maguire and Holland] and I tell them that I love them. It was just me loving them.
The writers said at one point that they considered bringing back Kirsten Dunst and Emma Stone. What would you have liked to see for Peter and Gwen?
OMG I don’t even know where to start with that. Is very large. Gwen had an agency. In our movie, on her last day, she appears. I tried to prevent him from appearing in that scene with Electro. [Jamie Foxx]. She knew it was too dangerous, but she chose to be there. She participated in her own destiny in that way, and the movie is about destiny. I will say the image of my capture [Zendaya’s] MJ – that was really beautiful and it convinced me of everything.
Much of the conversation about this movie has been about some kind of redemption for your Spider-Man. Narratively, commercially. How does it feel
I am very grateful. I’m very, very grateful that I was able to tie up some loose ends for the Peter who was playing. I love that character and I am grateful to have been able to work with these incredible actors, this incredible director, and Marvel in conjunction with Sony. It was joyful and a feeling of closure for me. There were so many unanswered questions for my Peter where we left off. I have to take a step back and heal it a bit. And also really supporting [Holland’s] Peter, and honoring his character by completing that trilogy, without distracting or detracting from it.
Would you be willing to return to character?
I mean yeah, definitely open to something if it feels right. Peter and Spider-Man, those characters are all about service, for the common good and for the majority. He is a working class boy from Queens who knows struggle and loss and is deeply empathetic. I would try to borrow Peter Parker’s ethical framework in the sense that if there was an opportunity to step back and tell more of that story, I would have to feel very secure and sure of myself.
“No Way Home” is a kind of button for a great year for you. Since we last spoke, “Tick, Tick … Boom” has been released on Netflix. Many people have discovered you as a singer and dancer. Are you getting all the music scripts in town? Did they send you “Grease 4”?
I would love to continue singing. It’s a great gift that Lin-Manuel gave me by extending my skill set in this way. I have my piano in my room and I’m going to be doing a couple of private sessions for the next few weeks, just for myself, just to keep up with the instrument. It is like a meditation practice. It was a great match and I would definitely do it again.
How about a moody studio album? Or are you searching Belsize Park with a Casio?
He would not have the courage. I’m in the middle of writing a song for my goddaughter right now. Something very cute and very inspired by [“Tick, Tick … Boom!” subject] Jonathan Larson and other people in my life. Those influences are very inspiring. I am very grateful for this movie and for savoring and drinking it right now.
I’m sure all of Broadway has seen this movie, but have you received any other comments from fans or people related to Larson?
It has been all-encompassing. The most beautiful thing has been that his family members and friends feel like they have given Jon back for a period of time. Through his music and what the film does, people who never had a relationship with his work have come closer because their lives have been reinvigorated by him. Because their story is theirs too. You see him doing these waves in others reaffirming or re-committing to his own dreams. I got a message today from a friend of a friend who saw him on a plane. He wrote the most beautiful note simply by saying, “I needed this, and I didn’t know I needed this movie at this point.”
It is also just this reminder to people about the sacredness and brevity of life, and how what we do matters, whether we know it in the moment or not. Jonathan didn’t know, couldn’t see the effect his work was going to have. But what he did matters, and we’re still enjoying the joy.