Andrew Garfield and Amy Adams chatted during a taping of Variety‘s “Actors on Actors” on a range of topics, including their portrayals of comic-book icons. For more, tune in when the fifth season premieres on PBS SoCal, presented by The Venetian Las Vegas, on January 3.
Silence is a novel about “the necessity of belief fighting the voice of experience,” as Scorsese has put it. To get the Jesuits’ beliefs right, he engaged the Rev. James Martin, an author and editor at large of the Jesuit weekly America. Filmmaker and priest had several colloquies at Scorsese’s home, and Martin worked intensively with Garfield and Driver. Just as De Niro learned to box for “Raging Bull,” they familiarized themselves with the rites and disciplines of the Jesuit priesthood to bring authenticity to their performances.
Garfield, known for his role in two “Spider-Man” movies, prepared to play Father Rodrigues by entering fully into the process that Jesuits call “spiritual direction.” Raised outside London, with a secular Jewish father, Garfield developed his character by undergoing the “Spiritual Exercises” of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order. The exercises, devised in the 1520s, invite the “exercitant” to use his imagination to place himself in the company of Jesus, at the foot of the cross, among tormented souls in hell. Garfield met with Martin for spiritual direction, and they swapped reflections via email and Skype. Then he set out for St. Beuno’s, a Jesuit house in Wales, to undertake a seven-day silent retreat.
“If I’d had 10 years, it wouldn’t have been enough to prepare for this role,” Garfield told me. “I got totally swept up in all things Jesuit and very taken with Jesuit spirituality. The preparation went on for nearly a year, and by the time we got to Taiwan, it was bursting out of me.”
It’s not unusual for performers to allude vaguely to their spirituality. But Garfield describes the process with guileless specificity. “On retreat, you enter into your imagination to accompany Jesus through his life from his conception to his crucifixion and resurrection. You are walking, talking, praying with Jesus, suffering with him. And it’s devastating to see someone who has been your friend, whom you love, be so brutalized.” Before Garfield left for Taiwan, Martin gave him a cross he had received as a gift while a Jesuit novice.
“Andrew got to the point where he could out-Jesuit a Jesuit,” Martin told me. “There were places in the script where he would stop and say, ‘A Jesuit wouldn’t say that,’ and we would come up with something else.”
“I don’t think I am called to be a priest,” Garfield said to me resolutely, as if making this film had spurred him to consider the prospect. “But I had the feeling that I was being called to something: called to work with one of the great directors, and called to this role as something I had to pursue for my spiritual development.”
A.O. Scott, now a chief film critic for The New York Times, once wrote that Scorsese approaches filmmaking as “a priestly avocation, a set of spiritual exercises embedded in technical problems.” So it was with “Silence.” “Marty insists on having silence on the set,” Garfield told me. “The silence says: ‘Something is happening here.’?” Scorsese arranged the shooting script chronologically, so the cast could feel the characters’ emotions in sequence. Finally Garfield reached the scene in which Rodrigues steps on the fumie, profaning the God he believes in and renouncing the faith he has come halfway across the world to preach. Actor and director prepared the shot: a bare foot pressed to a piece of copper, the face of Christ worn smooth by the feet of countless apostates before him. “It’s something we had both waited for,” Garfield said, “but Marty had waited much longer — he had waited decades to film that scene.” The director was ready; the priest stepped — and then there was a technical difficulty. “I almost lost my mind, and I think Marty did, too,” Garfield recalled. “He wanted it to be done in one take.” There was a second take, and the priest profaned the image of Christ once and for all.
Before it opens in New York and Los Angeles in December, Silence will be screened in Rome for several hundred Jesuits and for cinephiles at the Vatican.
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.”
Over the next few months, Andrew Garfield stars as a World War II conscientious objector in Mel Gibson’s “Hacksaw Ridge” (out in theaters now) and a Jesuit missionary in Martin Scorsese’s “Silence” (Dec. 23) — two roles that wore the actor down, tested his faith, and could potentially net him an Oscar nomination.
When box office returns swung downward, Sony re-rebooted its most lucrative superhero…without Garfield. But the 33-year-old actor found that working with Gibson and Scorsese was the salve he needed. “After Spider-Man, there was a longing for balance,” Garfield says. “I wanted to do something that was very soul-searching. These two characters [in Hacksaw Ridge and Silence] have a golden light around them in some way that’s challenged massively.”
In Hacksaw, Garfield plays real-life hero Desmond Doss, a WWII medic and Seventh-day Adventist who believed it was his duty to join the Army, but his faith dictated that engaging in war is a sin. So he refused to carry a weapon, even when the military tried to force him to. He was awarded the Medal of Honor after he carried 75 men to safety while under heavy attack from a barrage of artillery, mortar, and machine-gun fire from Japanese soldiers. “It’s a remarkable thing to see a person remain true to themselves,” Garfield says. “I think of Hillary Clinton right now, how she is just standing there accepting the slings and arrows and ducking underneath, getting stung, but standing like a tree in the middle of a tsunami. There’s something beautiful about that. Something inspiring about weathering that kind of storm.”
Gibson cast Garfield after seeing his performance in The Social Network. “He didn’t say a lot [in the film],” Gibson says. “But he has this minimalism that enables him to express volumes without language. You can see his heart and soul operating through his eyes. He’s very soulful. He’s a seeker.” Garfield’s quest to connect to his character took him to Doss’ late-life home of Chattanooga, Tenn. Doss died in 2006, but the actor spent time on his property, in his workshop, and at his grave site.
Garfield’s Hacksaw regime was child’s play compared with the yearlong prep he did for Silence, for which he trained with a Jesuit priest in New York, participating in the intense spiritual exercises required to become a member of the order. Garfield then spent close to six months in Taiwan, eating and speaking very little. The film, a 30-year passion project for Scorsese, traces the plight of a 17th-century Jesuit missionary who returns to Japan to minister despite Christianity being outlawed. The role required Garfield to be alone on camera most of the time (and away from cast members Liam Neeson and Adam Driver). “The movie feels like a prayer,” Garfield says. “I really dove into what a life of faith is and what a life of faith can be. It’s always been something I’ve longed for in my life. I’m drawn to anything that fills me up.”
A version of this article appears in Entertainment Weekly issue #1439, on newsstands now.
In this week’s issue of The Journal (Mr Porter), Andrew Garfield was interviewed and photographed. Check the pictures in our gallery and the interview right below.
Andrew Garfield is sitting on the rooftop of a Hollywood photo studio, collapsing into giggles. I have dared to suggest that the star of The Amazing Spider-Man franchise – LA-born, London-raised – has done rather well for himself.
“I don’t know about thriving,” he says. “It depends what you mean by thriving.” Well, blessed, perhaps? While he was appearing opposite the late Mr Philip Seymour Hoffman in Death Of A Salesman on Broadway in 2012 (to rapturous reviews), he made a shortlist of five directors he’d drop everything to work with, including Messrs Mel Gibson and Martin Scorsese. And guess what? Both came through.
I’m still winded from Mr Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge, in which Mr Garfield plays real-life US War hero, Corporal Desmond Doss, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his services in the Battle of Okinawa, 1945. It’s a role no one else could have done better, a signature blend of ludic vulnerability and stubborn resilience. Mr Garfield is also about to grace our screens in Mr Scorsese’s Silence, starring alongside Messrs Liam Neeson and Adam Driver, as a Portuguese priest in 17th-century Japan.
“The best moment of my life was kick-flipping down the Southbank stairs”
Still, he blows a raspberry when I say the word “Oscar”. “Argh. You know, it’s funny, isn’t it? I’ve just ordered this book called The New Better Off: Reinventing The American Dream. It goes right back to everything we see around us now and how sick and empty and false and foundationless it is. And how it mostly creates misery for everyone involved, even those who have it.” He includes himself in this, clearly. “Hmm, thriving is an interesting word. I’m not sure if I am.”
Andrew Garfield is radiant. This may be particularly noticeable because we’re having breakfast at the upscale vegan restaurant Café Gratitude in Venice, Calif., which is the epicenter of wellness culture in Los Angeles, crowded with surfers and yogis smiling beatifically on a sunlit patio. But it’s not just the environment—out of Garfield pours the easy charm of someone who’s done powerful soul-searching and found enlightenment. It’s an infectious energy.
It’s also probably not a surprise, given that the actor, 33, stars in two back-to-back films this winter, in each of which he plays men spurred by faith to do the unimaginable. First, there’s Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge (out Nov. 4), in which Garfield gives an awards-worthy performance as conscientious objector Desmond Doss, a Seventh-Day Adventist who served as a medic during World War II in the gruesome Battle of Okinawa, though he refused to carry a weapon. The film makes Doss’ heroism feel intimate and deeply personal; the film’s violence is harrowing, but it’s anchored by Garfield’s sensitive, humane performance. Then, on Dec. 23, he stars in Martin Scorsese’s Silence, in which he plays a 17th-century Jesuit priest who travels to Japan to minister to outlawed Christians.
These projects have led Garfield on a journey of spiritual discovery and self-interrogation; reflecting on his recent work, he is philosophical but not at all self-serious. We talked about God, Mel Gibson and the presidential election.
TIME: What drew you to the character of Desmond Doss?
Andrew Garfield: First, it was beautifully written. The character was so compelling—it was one of those stories that rang a bell inside me. I’m pretty good at saying no to things, at discerning between what I’m supposed to do and what I’m not supposed to do. With this one I felt compelled enough that I knew my drive to do it would supersede any doubt I had about myself being able to do it. If the longing to do it goes beyond my self-doubt, then I’m in.
The film puts spirituality front and center—it’s so explicitly about faith. Were you surprised to see how that theme crystallized in the finished film?
It was definitely in the script. I sat with Mel and talked at length about it, and my only concern was: I don’t want to do this film if the message is, “Christianity is the only way.” And he agreed. It was vital to me that we communicated that Desmond’s faith was deeper than any dogma, deeper than any set of man-made rules, but that he was in touch with a deep knowing in his bones, as opposed to any ideology. He was in line with that, and I felt totally reassured that we could make the same movie together. One of the main reasons I was drawn to doing it and to playing him was his awareness of his own ego and humanity, but his faith was the strongest part of him. He was empty enough to be in touch with spirit, to be in touch with his own deep inner-self, to be in touch with God—insert whatever word you, personally, feel closest to here. For me, every day it’s a different word. God, true self, deep self, spirit, soul, cosmos, community, whatever.
Andrew Garfield chats with ABC News’ Nick Watt about his portrayal of Desmond Doss, the World War II U.S. Army medic who refused to carry a weapon or kill in “Hacksaw Ridge”.