Two years ago, Hollywood actor Andrew Garfield stepped into the iconic red-and-blue costume for the first time. Since then, his fan base has multiplied and his name has become synonymous with one of the most-loved superheroes of all time. Ask him what he enjoys most about playing Spider-Man, and he smiles and says, "He doesn’t do it straight…he’s a rebel… like Bugs Bunny or Charlie Chaplin."
We’re not sure what die hard fans of the superhero might have to say about that comparison, but in this interview, we get Garfield to open up about his love for Spidey and more.
At what age did you read your first Spider-Man comic?
When I was six or seven… but I got my first costume at three and I watched the cartoon series when I was four or five. So I’ve had a relationship with the character for a long time.
When the script of the new Spider-Man film came to you, was there any improvising required from your end?
Yes. Luckily, we had a great script written by Alex (Kurtzman). He was also open enough to collaborate, and let us play with it and make it our own. I have to be free to find things as I go.
What separates Spidey from the other superheroes?
He’s a trickster and he’s so human. He’s a kid stumbling through life, yet he has the power to save an entire city. This, I feel, is empowering for young people who don’t feel like they have enough strength... I think that’s what makes it so compelling.
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Do you plan to come to India any time?
I definitely do; I would love to. I’ve been meaning to travel to India just for myself. I haven’t had the opportunity to make the trip yet, but I know I will.
What do you know of the Hindi film industry?
I know it’s pretty big. It’s pretty cool. You have to learn to dance. (laughs)
Do you know of any actors here?
Yes, Irrfan Khan. He was in the first Spider-Man movie (that released in 2012) and I think he’s a fantastic actor. I’m not as educated about Indian films as I should be... I will get educated before I come.
In Hollywood, rarely does it get bigger than playing the role of a superhero. Does that put pressure on you?
You can look at it both ways. You can either say, Oh God, now I’m under pressure and I kind of want to retreat into myself, or you could say, Okay, this is an opportunity for me to show up as myself and represent myself; represent the character of Spider-Man. If I approach this, I’m serving something greater than myself. My only intention has been and continues to be to bring myself to it (character), and I want to act passionately on behalf of Spider-Man.
What’s the one unforgettable scene from the film?
Working with brilliant actors was pretty unforgettable. We also recreated Times Square in Long Island, and shot action sequences there for a week, which was really cool. One of my favourite scenes to shoot was a part where I’m trying to get my costume off, and my aunt’s about to open the door. I’m climbing the walls, trying to get it off, and I’m on the ceiling. That was my idea, and we created a rotating room to shoot it. They made the bedroom in a way that it rotated all the way around. So, if I’m on the floor and it starts rotating, I jump on the wall, and then it rotates further, so I jump on the ceiling, then the other wall, and finally land on the bed. I was nervous about whether it would work, but it was fun.
You’ve been travelling all over the world for promotions.
One of the great things about this character is that you get to represent him across so many borders and barriers and break them all down. You get to bring him to Singapore, China, Australia, Europe, India — there’s no limit to the miles this character can travel. He’s a true barrier-breaker and universally loved. And, for a very good reason: he’s such a pure, imperfect symbol of hope. It’s a beautiful thing.
- The writer’s trip to Singapore was sponsored by Sony Pictures India.