Andrew Garfield is a lifelong Spider-Man fan, but lifelong loyalty to a fictional character isn't enough to become one of the most iconic superheroes of all time. In order to achieve that feat, Garfield needed to physically transform himself — a task he was able to accomplish with a little bit of help from Bruce Lee.
The story is less ridiculous than it sounds, really. Speaking with MTV News, "Amazing Spider-Man" stunt coordinator Andy Armstrong recalled how Garfield physically transformed himself from mild-mannered British actor to impossibly-muscled superhero, with a little bit of inspiration from the late "Enter the Dragon" actor.
"When we first met him, he was quite nerdy, a skinny guy: a young kid, really," said Armstrong. "He wanted to get genuine strength. Our only reference point when approached [by producers] to help create the character was an early '60s picture of Bruce Lee's torso. That was the form they'd love this character to be based on."
"I showed this [photo] to Andrew, and brought him a trainer who told him he could do this Hollywood-style: bulk up, and six weeks into training [he'd] have huge chest, shoulders and arms, but no real strength," he continued. "Andrew and the trainer went the other way. They stripped him down to probably around 100 pounds, then built him back up in core strength. He was the same size when he started, but his strength was incredible."
Garfield's transformation into a Bruce Lee-modeled action star became fully apparent to Armstrong during a scene featuring Gwen Stacy and a shirtless Peter Parker. "It was a fantastic moment," he recalled. "One of my riggers just said, 'Wow. Look at him!' [He became] that picture. It was that '60s picture of Bruce Lee's body, nothing but sinew and muscle. He realized this as well. He became an inch and a half taller, just in posture. He was sensational."
"Sensational," a word commonly associated with Spider-Man already, is also a word that Armstrong frequently used to describe Garfield. "He really integrated himself and had a massive relationship with everyone who [worked on the stunt team]," he said. "There are some pictures of Spider-Man on the Internet tumbling around, and people presume it's a stuntman. But it's not. It's Andrew. He did a lot his own stuff. He's very proud of that, and rightfully so: he put in all of the work."
Beyond Garfield's work ethic, Armstrong credited the actor's great respect for the Spider-Man legacy as the reason why he was the perfect choice to put on the red-and-blue tights. "He knows what a privilege it is. He'll be known as Spider-Man for the next however many years," he said. "But spiritually and mentally, he's the same guy now as the guy who walked in the stage door on his audition. He has no more ego or attitude in any way, shape or form. Very few people on the planet could really encompass that without some massive change to their psyche. He's a tremendous guy and I have massive admiration for him."
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