In "Never Let Me Go," director Mark Romanek's adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro's award-winning novel, Andrew Garfield plays a character whose emotions are never far from the surface, faced with the frustrating certainty of his impending death.
While the basic premise for the film is set firmly in the realm of science-fiction, the narrative itself shares little in common with the average futuristic story filled with robots and advanced technology. Instead, "Never Let Me Go" offers an intimate look at three people whose lives have a very public expiration date and what they do with the time they're given.
"What is at the core of the story is a very human story, discussing what it is to have a soul, and how you prove what a soul is," Garfield told MTV News. "Do we have souls? It's actually [a story] about being human."
For Garfield, the film is likely to be the calm before the storm, of sorts. The actor will appear next in David Fincher's "The Social Network" before swinging into theaters as the new star of the "Spider-Man" movie franchise in the 2012 blockbuster. Whether any of his upcoming roles will afford him the same emotional journey as "Never Let Me Go" is uncertain, but Garfield seems keen on getting the most out of his roles — like the chance to let loose with the occasional raw, primal scream.
"It was intense to do," said Garfield of the scenes in which his character, no longer able to contain his anger and frustration, erupts with a heart-wrenching wail.
"I think those screams are inside all of us, I just got a chance to let mine out," he said. "At one point during every single day, you want to do that, but you don't express that — you keep everything locked in. And that's OK, that's what it is to grow and not be a baby anymore. But when you're first born, you don't know why you shouldn't scream. To react in that very childish, free, expressive, instinctive way of being was kind of beautiful to do.
"I think it's kind of important that we find a room where we can do that once a week, once an hour," he laughed. "I think that's kind of necessary."
With "Never Let Me Go" kicking off a limited release in theaters this week, audiences have the chance to see Garfield flex his acting muscles well ahead of his mainstream gigs, but the actor seems intent on keeping perspective, describing his debut as Peter Parker as "just another role." However, he admits that his experience during last weekend's MTV Video Music Awards offered him a chance to observe what happens once you're firmly rooted in the spotlight.
"It was surreal, man," he said. "It was surreal to be there, and it was surreal to be with Justin [Timberlake] in his element, so to speak. It was really exciting. I felt like I could be a fly on the wall, because no one knows who the hell I am. I could just be there and observe all this weirdness going on all around."
In the end, it might be a good thing that Garfield has "Never Let Me Go" behind him before Hollywood makes his life even more surreal, as the lessons he learned from the experience bode well for avoiding potential "weirdness."
"[The story of 'Never Let Me Go'] is reminding us hopefully that we do have a choice to we wake up in the morning and think, 'What do I want to do?' Not 'What should I do?' and 'What am I obliged to do?' but 'What do I want to do with this very unique day?'
"I think it can be a call to arms for that kind of excitement about life," he said. "And I love the story for that."
Check out everything we've got on "Never Let Me Go."
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