TIFF 2010 Interview: NEVER LET ME GO’s Andrew Garfield

Chase Whale

by: Chase Whale
September 14th, 2010

A few days ago, I took part in a roundtable interview with future webslinger, Andrew Garfield, who's here at the Toronto InternationalFilm Festival to support NEVER LET ME GO, in which he plays one of the leads alongside Carey Mulligan and Keira Knightly. Garfield is a very humble guy that just wants to act. Studio budget or self-financed, if he finds something beautiful in a film, count him in.

Check out the interview after the break. And a big thank you to Katey Rich from Cinema Blend for sending me the transcript.

Was there ever a point where you thought there was a point of no return, taking on this franchise? You are basically not going to be able to come back to small films for a while.

No, I don't think so. I haven't thought about it like that. I just like acting. I just want to act for the rest of my life, and get lost in roles and just explore the diversity of what it is to be a human being, and the different experiences we all go through. Maybe that's naive, I don't know. I feel really excited. I'm only going to do something if I really am excited to do it, for the right reason. If I were going into something with the wrong intentions I wouldn't be able to sleep at night. Doing this film is so beautiful, I don't want to do anything but tell the story in the most simple and transient way, from novel to cinema. I don't know if we achieved it, but everyone's intention was the same. We just wanted to honor Kazuo's story. My attitude is very similar. Size doesn't really come into it. I want to be an actor, and I just want to explore what that job means. And be a vessel for someone else's words, be a vessel for someone else's story and facilitate that with whatever I may or may not have.

Do you want to reach more and more audiences?

That's a byproduct maybe. But it's not something that comes into my thought process. I want my life to be my life, and I want my work to be my work. I don't want to identify one with the other. What's important is life comes first. My family comes first, and my friends, and my happiness comes first. It just so happens I get happiness out of working hard. I get happiness out of working on something hard. The idea of fame isn't something that interests me, the idea of celebrity isn't something that interests me.

Do you at least appreciate the fame?

I don't know. I don't feel that I've had to deal with that yet. It's really nice when someone comes up to and says, "I really liked your film, it really moved me." "I really liked your film, it really made me think." Or, "I was interested in your film, I don't know if I liked it, but maybe we can talk about it." That's fascinating. That's all I've really had so far. I just cross bridges if and when they come. There's no point in worrying about the future. I'm just trying to be an actor. I want my kids to have normal lives, as normal as they possibly can be.

This is the first round of press you've done since the SPIDER-MAN announcement. Has it occurred to you that you'll be answering SPIDER-MAN questions for the next ten years?

You just put that in my head! No, I haven't really given it that much thought. As I was saying, I'm going to approach it like I approach any other role. I'm just going to work as much as I can, because it's been such an important symbol to me since I was four years old. It's meant so much to me, and it's given me so much hope as a skinny little streak of piss, who feels more powerful inside than he looks on the outside. Every skinny boy's dream. I'm very lucky.

Do what extent does the role give you advantage, to be able to bring awareness to smaller films?

That's not my job. I think if I got caught up in that I would just stress myself out. If I was so calculated, I think it would just detract from the good stuff. I'm obviously aware of how difficult it is to -- actors can't get work. I'm an actor. I'm happy to be working, that's all. It's difficult to get work. There are people much more talented than I am, that I know, who aren't working. Actors are at the mercy of other people, sometimes foolish people -- because their eyebrows are too big -- I'm just talking about myself -- or whatever. Or they're too skinny, too in perfect shape, their jawline is too attractive or too flabby. It's death out there man, it's tough. No, I'm just happy to work. I just soak up every moment I can of being allowed to be creative in that respect. You can only do so many Shakespeare speeches on your own in your room before starting to feel like you want to give up. That's, to me, what purpose feels like, when you're giving of yourself and exposing of yourself, to serve a story and therefore to serve an audience being told a story that is in tune with the universal themes of being alive.

Did you spend much time with the boy who played you as a younger?

We hugged out a bunch and chatted and talked about the role and just got to know each other. We chatted about his school and what it means to be an actor and why we both wanted to be actor. We'd muck around, we'd talk about girls, kissing girls and stuff. We'd play Frisbee, we'd play hide and seek, just the general getting to know you friendship thing. He was so good. He was so open, excited, enthusiastic, talented and raw and right there in the moment. And we all did that with our counterparts. It was set up that way by Mark and the production time. We got weeks of rehearsal together, and all just bonded and became very intimate with each other, discussed the themes of the book and themes of the movie. Every came at it with the same intention. Everyone wanted to tell Kazuo's story in the most pure form, without any ego or imposition. Just tell the story in a really lovely way, in a really intense and pure way.

Is this the SPIDER-MAN diet?

I mean, it's food that I'm eating. It's all starting up, that thing. All I know is I'm probably going to have to move a lot, so I'm trying to be as healthy as I can. But that's all me. It's very difficult, because I like cookies a lot.

The more I hear you talk about having no interest in celebrity and whatnot, your attitude seems very similar to Heath Ledger. Was your attitude influenced by him, or did you have that and that's why you clicked as actors?

I don't think anyone can be defined by an influence from someone else. I admired Heath, I continue to admire Heath, incredibly. He was truly exciting to be around. He was fiery, and I don't want to get into personal opinions about that, because it's not my place. But I can speak highly of him still. He's just incredible, as an actor, as a human being. Maybe there's something in that. Maybe I saw his happiness and his life, and he was just a very creative person. I just love creatives. I love being around them-- it inspires me. I got to work with such incredible people. And on that film there was terry as well. He lives for it. And with this, being with Mulligan and Knightley and Mark and Alex and Ishiguru, it was just a gift. Being with Jesse Eisenberg for THE SOCIAL NETWORK, that boy is constantly creating something, whether he's writing a play or musical or a series of incredible jokes, he's just a genius. Just that being the focus, and not allowing all the periphery stuff to infringe, because it takes up headspace that could be better used, whether it's painting something terrible or buying a present for my mum. I'd rather be doing something that's going to serve someone.

What happens to Tommy between the time that he has his original outburst at Hailsham and the outburst he has later on?

Something happens to him, and he becomes very acquiescent. I think he does what's necessary. He does what we all have to do when we're in a situation. We deal with the situation. We deal with what it is to be alive. You become a man, and you suppress things, and you get burned. You get burned, and then you have to heal your scar to cover it up, bandage it up, and then you have to avoid that pain again. I remember the first time I broke up with someone. It was the greatest pain ever. It made me never want to love again. We all know that feeling. So you do everything you can to distract yourself. I feel that's what Tommy is doing. He has to somehow hold on through this free-floating anxiety, this knowledge that there's something not quite right in this life. What's around the corner, and it's death. it's inevitable. We have no frame of reference to deal with death. So he does what we all do, he deflects, he ignores. It's like if there was a live tiger in this room right now and all we're doing is focusing on everything that's not that tiger. Just trying to survive, and we have to somehow live. It's so relatable, we all do it. There are these burning, upsetting tingling in all of us. These dissatisfactions that we're not being looked after, these worries that there's nobody above, worries that there is no purpose. If you are constantly in that thought process and consciousness, we would all be constantly screaming. Because life is fucking unfair, and life is impossible sometimes. Once you own up to that and see that it's very difficult not to scream and shout. Because we're given this consciousness. We're not just animals, unfortunately. We have a consciousness to supposedly elevate us, but it does more harm than good sometimes. I think in-between he's trying to come to terms with life, like we alare. He has that hope for deferral with Kathy, and he goes to great lengths to make sure that he has the opportunity to it. he has hope. It's a religious hope. He's lived his life as well as he could. He's looked after this body, he's done everything he can. One should be rewarded for being moral, for being good, for not betraying anyone, for looking after yourself. There should be some payback for that, and there isn't he finds out very brutally. There's silence. He screams, and no one rescues him. He gets held very tightly by someone he loves. That's what Ishiguro is trying to say. We have very short time here, and love as much as you can, and love as many people as you can. Hold on to the people that mean something. I think that's a microcosm of what he's talking about. It's very simplistic, but obviously it's much deeper and richer than that.

Talking about Facebook, Twitter, social media. It's a way for non-celebrities to feel famous and report on their minutiae. What's your perspective on that given your role in THE SOCIAL NETWORK?

Luckily my role in THE SOCIAL NETWORK doesn't know much about that. He's an economics major. So my research wasn't Internet-based, it wasn't social media-based. He's actually naive to it. He's being exposed to it gradually as the film goes on, so I didn't have to do much work in terms of that. I had to do work elsewhere. Yeah, I think I admire it greatly. They are the wizards of our generation, they are the alchemists. I just got given an iPad as a gift for my birthday, and it's unbelievable. It's truly magic. Zuckerberg revolutionized the way we communicate globally.

Do you have a Facebook account?

No, I don't have one. But I've of course been on. It is so simple and genius, because everyone wants to be on their own [magazine] cover, and that's what it's giving people. It's kind of an extension of what our playground society is. I admire it greatly. Unfortunately we could all be very rich if we had been on that bandwagon. They are the great people who are defining our time. Surrender to it, it's fucking great.

Can you talk about your discussions with Marc about your interpretation of Spider-Man?

We're starting to talk about it. It's all very early stages. I haven't really got much to say, because I don't have anything to say about it. It's all very early and the exploration stage.

Most times it's a decade until a series is rebooted, and this is like three or four years. Does that give you any pause to do something different?

No. What's wonderful about Spider-Man is it's no one's and it everyone's. It means so much to so many people. It's mythology and a legacy. There is no definitive version. You look back at the Dick Cook Stan Lee comics to the Ultimates and the Incredibles and the Amazings, then you go to the original cartoon series in the 70s and how that translated to the one in the 90s that Avi Arad was involved in, it's constantly shifting and reflecting the time and being as relevant and topical as it can be. I think it's going to shift again. I don't know in what way, but it's going to be defined by where we are as a society, and hopefully people are going to enjoy it, because I think we're going to enjoy making it.

Have you met Stan Lee yet?

No, I haven't. That's going to be very cool though.

You have a BACK TO THE FUTURE watch?

I do, yeah. My girlfriend just got it for me. It's a limited edition. Zemeckis made 20 of them for his electrical crew because they worked so hard on the first one. It was a starting gift for the second one. My girlfriend got it off of eBay. That's like the best film ever made.

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  • Anonymous

    “The more I hear you talk about having no interest in celebrity and whatnot, your attitude seems very similar to Heath Ledger. Was your attitude influenced by him, or did you have that and that’s why you clicked as actors?” – Who would ask this? Meh…

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