With reporting by Josh Horowitz
Andrew Garfield has always kept his private life pretty private, but even those who don't follow the comings and goings of the "99 Homes" star probably know at least three major things about him: one, that he once played Spider-Man, two, that he dates Emma Stone, and three, that both he and Stone don't exactly hide the fact they're not huge fans of the paparazzi.
However, for "99 Homes," Garfield was able to turn this formerly almost purely contentious relationship into something more positive -- largely because his character in the film, Dennis Nash, shares some common misfortunes with the people behind the lens.
"He starts out as a good boy, really," Garfield said of Nash, who is taken under the wing of the devious Rick Carver (Michael Shannon). "He's trying to do right by his family, and he's trying to make an honest living, like so many Americans are trying to do. He happens to be one of the Americans who doesn't have the opportunity to, for all the social and economic reasons that so many Americans experience. He's basically put into a situation where he loses everything, and he feels like a total failure as a provider, as a man, and then he's given the opportunity to provide, but the only way he's able to do that is if he compromises his soul, his integrity, and his ethics."
For a very successful actor, having to stick with a soul-sucking career you don't like is probably a foreign concept, but thanks to "99 Homes" -- and the paparazzi -- Garfield has developed some real empathy for the millions of people who are stuck in that same situation.
"I speak to a lot of paparazzi when I get a chance to; when there's few of them enough where I can actually connect," Garfield continued. "After the usual defensiveness on both sides, we get to a place of real, deep conversation. They're like, 'I don't want to be doing this. I hate that I have to do this, but it's hard out here, and I have no other way of surviving. I don't want to take a picture ever again.'
"I believe it, sincerely," he continued. "I do believe underneath that they don't want to be hated. No one wants to be hated. If nothing else, it gave me compassion for people who are forced into a job that doesn't actually fulfill them. It doesn't feel like it's all them. I don't know, I think a great deal of the population can identify with that, not being given the opportunity to give their gifts to the world in a way that is authentic to who they are, and actually being forced into a profession that costs so much to the soul, and feels like they're sacrificing something deeper in order to survive."
"99 Homes" hits theaters on September 25.