He will, however, talk at length about how sorry he is to play coy on all this Spidey stuff. The 27-year-old Brit is that nice of a guy. Yet our conversation with Garfield represents his most in-depth public comments about the series since nabbing the role in July, as he delved into his fears about playing Peter Parker, what he learned about comic book movies from Heath Ledger, and the best advice he’s received about the new job.
The occasion for the chat was MTV News’ Thankful Week, for which we honored Garfield as the man we’re most thankful for in 2010 (tune in later today for a Q&A with fellow “Spider-Man” star Emma Stone, who is the woman we’re most thankful for this year). It’s an honor that had the self-deprecating star laughingly reacting, “Wow, that’s stupid!”
But it’s an honor he richly deserves. You can head over to MTVNews.com to check out his thoughts on the crazy year he’s had in 2010, or read on for even more of Garfield’s approach to the franchise.
MTV NEWS: Has there been a surreal moment from 2010 that kind of encapsulates what a crazy year it’s been for you?
ANDREW GARFIELD: I did have a strange moment when I was told I was going to play this role. I was like, “Oh, wow, this is something I’ve wanted to do ever since I was a kid.” There was a moment of total boyish excitement. It was this cosmic convergence where I was in the past, present and future all at once. In the future, I was thinking about my nephews that are going to have an uncle who’s Spider-Man, but then I thought that could be bad because kids can bully you for any reason, and it’s like, “Where’s your uncle now when I’m beating the sh– out of you?” I’ll have to go to their school a lot, but by that time I’ll be really old and fat and no one will believe I was Spider-Man. Then I was thinking about the past and when I was first shown a “Spider-Man” comic. It inspired me because I was one of those people who felt stronger on the inside than they looked on the outside. And then in the present moment, I was thinking this moment is something I’ll never forget.
MTV: There was so much competition to play Peter Parker. Do you ever think, “Why me?” In your own mind, what is it that you think won you the role?
GARFIELD: I have no idea! I’m glad I didn’t have to make the decision. I have no idea why they cast me. If I started thinking about that, I think I’d sabotage myself and have to pull myself out of the movie and be like, “I think you made the wrong decision.”
MTV: Don’t do that! We spoke to Kirsten Dunst recently and she said that two things the new cast has to get used to are swinging around a lot and acting to nothing? Can you handle that?
GARFIELD: I’m OK with swinging. I’ve been swinging since I was four. Wait, no, that can be misinterpreted!
MTV: That’d be a very different movie.
GARFIELD: My goodness.
MTV: Where do we go from here? Tennis balls?
GARFIELD: > Yes, tennis balls. Acting with tennis balls and green screen and all that, I love that idea. I did “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” with Terry Gilliam and that was the first time I did green screen stuff. I actually loved it. Sure, I love being in a real environment, but on the flipside, to step back into your childhood imagination that you have to employ, I love that. It’s a challenge, but it’s fun and playful and childish. It’s another skill to try and hone.
MTV: It’s interesting you bring up “Doctor Parnassus.” You shot that with Heath Ledger right after he filmed “The Dark Knight.” Did the two of you ever talk about his experience bringing an iconic comic book character to the screen?
GARFIELD: We never really talked about that. The movie wasn’t out, but I knew how excited he was. I was talking to his friends about it, who had been involved in the process, and they were so jazzed about how people were going to react to him. What I learned from watching him in that movie was that it was so honest and specific. Somehow he made this very broad character incredibly honest and human. There’s so much to be learned from that, because otherwise during the big fight sequences, who cares, unless you have a good understanding of who the characters fighting are? I’m really excited for Marc Webb, because he’s a real stickler for that sort of stuff. He wants everything to come from Peter Parker’s dilemma, Gwen Stacy’s dilemma, Uncle Ben’s dilemma — everyone’s struggles, so that in those bigger sequences, it’s actually not just a cool fight, but there’s heart and specificity.
MTV: I would imagine at this point everyone is giving you advice, mostly unsolicited, about the best way to bring Spider-Man to life. Is there one piece of advice that really sticks out for you as being spot-on?
GARFIELD: I was told by someone who should be listened to — I’m not going to say who it was — he said, “Don’t try and live up to it. Don’t think you have to live up to what that image and that symbol means to people.” And first I thought that was really reassuring. But then you go, “No, I really want to live up to that symbol.” When I was 12-years-old I saw the struggle Peter Parker was going through to be of use to society, I wanted to live up to that. And I realized that even Peter Parker is trying to live up to that symbol of Spider-Man he’s created. That’s what makes him so special: he’s undeniably human and going through the same struggles as everyone else. So you try to live up to that symbol and then you have to be OK not living up to it, because not even Peter Parker can do it.
MTV: We spoke to Stan Lee recently, who said the thing to remember is that for all his superpowers, Peter Parker is just a very simple, everyday kid who’s good at science and wishes he were more than he is. That sound like good advice to you?
GARFIELD: It’s so universal. That’s what keeps us getting out of bed in the morning. That’s fantastic advice. And coming from Stan Lee, this character is his child and I want to do his vision justice. I want to do him proud. I want to access all of the intentions he had when developing this character. I care very deeply.
Is Garfield on the right track? Let us know what you think of the interview in the comment section or on Twitter!