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INTERVIEW: Andrew Garfield Has an Amazing Adventure as Spider-Man

The 2012 Tony Award nominee talks about taking on the iconic comic book character in his new film.

Andrew Garfield
(© Tristan Fuge)
Andrew Garfield has impressed audiences in such films as The Social Network and Never Let Me Go, and earlier this year, he made his Broadway debut -- and earned his first Tony Award nomination -- as Biff Loman in the award-winning revival of Arthur Miller's Death of A Salesman, directed by Mike Nichols.

Now, Garfield is taking on the title role in the new film The Amazing Spider-Man, opening on July 3, which finds Peter Parker (Garfield) the outcast high-school student with supernatural spider-like talents, on a quest to understand his parents' disappearance. Along the way our hero discovers first love (played by his real-life girlfriend Emma Stone), fights supervillian The Lizard and makes life-altering decisions to use his powers for good. TheaterMania recently talked to Garfield about his Broadway debut, taking on this iconic role, and putting on the skintight suit.

THEATERMANIA: Which was more challenging, making your Broadway debut or playing Spider-Man?
ANDREW GARFIELD: The repetition of going through trauma every night on stage is a killer and your body doesn't know it's not real. So your body is in a lot of pain and your heart is in a lot of pain. But it's worth it. I will always think about that theater experience my whole life and I'll hold it very close to me. My only intention was to honor the characters. That goes for Biff Loman and Peter Parker. My approach was the same -- to do it from my heart and guts.

TM: How did you physically approach the role?
AG: There was something specific that I wanted to do with the physicality that wasn't just a guy in a suit throwing kicks and punches. I wanted it to be about what would happen if spider DNA were flowing through your bloodstream. What happens to this teenage boy that's fidgety and nervous? He finds patience, like a spider. The training was horrible, because I'm a lazy guy and I'm vain, but not vain enough to care about the gym.

TM: What did you relate to most in Peter Parker?
AG: That was the way I felt when I was growing up. I felt that I was an underdog and I was a skinny kid. I always thought I should be bigger. I played rugby and I was good at it, but I got concussions all the time because I was a weakling. That was something I always identified with Peter. He felt stronger on the inside than he did on the outside and there's nothing better than a skinny guy beating the big guys.

Andrew Garfield in The Amazing Spider-Man
(© Sony Pictures)
TM: Did you feel a responsibility to the Spider-Man legend and fans?
AG: I dedicated myself to it. I really did. We all have that one fictional character that we care about so much and if that opportunity came to any of us to play it, serve it, and do it justice we have to do it. I couldn't sleep, I couldn't think of anything else. I had to dedicate everything to this person that's given me so much.

TM: Was it scarier to swing through the air or to do the love scenes?
AG: I felt more safe when I was swinging around because you have a very safe pair of hands holding you up. The romantic scenes are freefalling. They have to be spontaneous, free, and terrifying -- because that's what first love is. First love is the scariest thing you'll ever go through and the most exhilarating. They were more frightening than swinging through the buildings in a weird way.

TM: What was it like to wear the Spider-Man costume?
AG: I had many issues with that costume! Every actor who plays a superhero complains. We should get together and talk about it because it's so inappropriate to talk about in public. How dare we complain? We're the ones to get to wear it. It's the dream. But it was horrible. Let me put it this way, the fantasy of wearing those costumes is awesome. Just enjoy that!

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