Andrew is on an article on Vogue December issue and we’ve got a new interview. Check out the picture featured and the article below.
Hanging up his Spider-Man spandex, Andrew Garf?eld reveals new depths playing heroic men of faith in Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge and Martin Scorsese’s Silence.
Behind the mask of every movie superhero you’ll find a serious actor yearning to peel it off. Although Andrew Garfield was a very good Spider-Man and Spider-Man was very good to him—making him world-famous and, as they say, bankable—the 33-year-old Londoner happily abandoned the red-and-blue spandex in search of something more satisfying. “There was something that made me go, I want to be training in a different way now,” he tells me over bites of curry at Café Gratitude in Venice, California. “I want to play at the feet of the masters.”
He got his wish, with starring roles in two of the holiday season’s most ambitious films. In Mel Gibson’s epic war movie Hacksaw Ridge, Garfield gives a stirring, bighearted turn as the real-life Desmond T. Doss, a country-boy Seventh-day Adventist who, though a committed pacifist and vegetarian, serves as an army medic during World War II. “He’s like Ferdinand the Bull, in that old Disney cartoon: The matador is trying to show him the red flag, and Ferdinand is just sniffing the flowers,” says Garfield. In Silence, Martin Scorsese’s meticulous adaptation of Shusaku Endo’s classic novel about Jesuit priests in a hostile seventeenth-century Japan, Garfield plays Father Sebastião Rodrigues, a Portuguese Jesuit who, along with a comrade (Adam Driver), faces torture, death, and a crisis of faith as they search for their missing mentor (Liam Neeson). It takes us back to a time when Catholic saints were, Garfield says, “the Kanye Wests of their day.”
Looking fit and healthy in a purple T-shirt and forest-green pants, Garfield is just back from a week spent surfing with a pal in Troncones, Mexico—a hint of beach sun still tints his forehead pink. “Surfing is like a form of meditation,” he says. “It’s got everything: man’s relationship with nature, surrendering to something greater than yourself. Plus there’s great danger in it, so there’s adrenaline.” He seems to have gotten the same kind of thrill from his latest roles. Although he says his directors couldn’t be more different—“Mel is all instinct and animal and heart,” while “Marty runs a set so quiet you could hear a pin drop”—each gives us a saintly hero who fights to keep the faith in a world hell-bent on destroying it. “There’s something transcendent and profound in these men and what they’re reaching for,” Garfield says.
It’s at his suggestion that we’re meeting at this vegan restaurant, whose dishes boast ennobling names (his particular curry is called Humble). He went temporarily vegan while working on these two physically demanding productions, and, he says, it changed his relationship to food. “I savor things more, and I’m far less gluttonous,” he says, then smiles. “Which I’m grateful for because I’m in my 30s, and it’s starting to show up in my body.” In order to look properly emaciated in Silence, he, Driver, and Neeson subsisted on a spare diet of vegetables and unseasoned vegetable soup. (As Driver says, “It would’ve been harder to make a movie about persecuted seventeenth-century Jesuit priests downing pizza and mai tais.”)
Silence was filmed in Taiwan, in difficult conditions—“There was a lot of do-si-doing on mountainsides,” says Driver—but for Garfield, the true adventure lay inward. To prepare for the role, he spent a year studying with the Jesuit priest and writer Father James Martin, who led him through the famously demanding Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola. “I’ve spoken to people who’ve attempted these exercises and only lasted for three days,” Scorsese says with a laugh. “This young man actually did them!” Garfield would get into such a meditative state while walking around that sometimes Scorsese started the camera without telling him, so as not to break his concentration.
“Rodrigues is on a heated and delicate journey. Over the years, I’ve auditioned lots of actors for him,” Scorsese says. “With some I needed to explain the spiritual issues. Andrew actually lives with them.” Garfield, who tells me at one point that his childhood hero was Gandhi, found the idea of the priesthood strangely appealing. “There were moments where I thought, Maybe I could do this,” he says. “But I knew that I wasn’t ultimately built for it.” He laughs. “I probably enjoy sex too much.”
What Garfield clearly doesn’t enjoy is the attention that came with Spider-Man and his high-profile relationship with costar Emma Stone. “I’m not currently in a relationship with anyone. There is nothing but love between me and Emma. Ultimately I long to protect my private life and those I’m intimate with, as much as possible in this modern moment of excess information, in order to allow an audience to fall deeply into the stories of the films and plays I’m involved in, without the distraction of ‘me’ getting in the way,” he tells me. “‘The play’s the thing!’” He mentions something Mike Nichols, who directed him as Biff in Death of a Salesman on Broadway, observed about Hollywood. “Mike said, ‘Why would I want to live in a city where I can tell what my stock is just by looking in the eyes of the parking attendant?’” To escape L.A., where he was in fact born, Garfield moved back to London recently, a homecoming of sorts (he was raised in Banstead, Surrey, by parents who ran a lampshade company). He now lives near Hampstead Heath and tries to avoid the pressure to be working constantly: “One of the only pieces of autonomy we get as actors is what we say no to.”
Still, he does say yes to projects that excite him. He’s just shot Andy Serkis’s directorial debut, Breathe, a love story costarring Claire Foy (The Crown), in which he plays a man stricken with polio who becomes an advocate for the disabled; he’s currently acting alongside Dakota Johnson in Under the Silver Lake, by It Follows’s David Robert Mitchell, which Garfield describes as “a thriller, a noir film, a dream sequence, and a surreal exploration of the underbelly of Silver Lake.” Having nabbed a Tony nomination for Salesman, he’s eagerly returning to the stage this coming April in the National Theatre’s production of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, directed by two-time Tony winner Marianne Elliott. He stars as (who else?) Prior Walter, the saintly AIDS patient with heavenly visions. “We’re doing both plays,” he says. “I’m tired just thinking about it.”
Each of these roles draws on what may be the actor’s defining quality: his aura of moral innocence. Garfield can convey decency and spiritual struggle without saying a word. “Andrew’s a great minimalist,” Gibson tells me by phone from Ireland. “It’s all happening with his eyes.”