Peter Parker is uniquely suited for the responsibilities that his powers bring, in that he’s got that heroic, moral instinct before his powers. How was that to play?
Andrew Garfield: Yeah. Peter Parker is a hero, not a superhero. He’s already good before the spider bites him. After that, he gets the power to act on what he already knows is right. And when I was younger, I sometimes felt trapped in my own skin, but I think we all have that. That’s why this character, Peter Parker/Spider-Man, is one of the most popular of all the superheroes: he’s universal, he’s uniting. The reason Spider-Man means so much to me is the same reason he means so much to everyone: he’s a symbol, an imperfect person in the way that we’re all imperfect, but trying so hard to do what is right and what is just and fighting for the people who can’t fight for themselves. It’s overwhelming to represent him – and believe me, I’m just the guy in the suit. I’m honored to be that, but Spider-Man belongs to everyone.
Playing such a well loved and revered character brings its own challenges, but then you’ve got the added physicality of the role as well. What was it about playing Peter Parker/Spider-Man that you found most challenging in ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’?
Andrew Garfield: The physicality was fun because I just felt so safe with that aspect of making ‘The Amazing Spider-Man.’ I felt so safe with that aspect of the movie-making process because of Andy Armstrong and because of that stunt team, they were so encouraging and inclusive and they didn’t treat me in any different way than each other. That’s what I loved, when you just feel apart of a community and part of a tribe that is all going for the same goal. That’s what I felt with those guys. So on ‘The Amazing Spider-Man,’ that wasn’t the hardest thing, the physicality wasn’t the hardest thing. I think the hardest thing for me was when it came to the story, you know? When it came to the story of Peter Parker and wanting to do that justice. To make sure that all of the themes and the characteristics of the guy, and the struggles that he goes through were portrayed in a way that were honoured and powerful. Also, injecting it with lightness as well, that was another thing that I really cared about with Peter Parker/Spider-Man, the humour – all the things that are there with Peter Parker, I wanted to achieve that. That was the biggest challenge.
How did you find the training regiment to get into Spider-Man shape?
Andrew Garfield: The physical preparation was very challenging, to be sure. Armando Alarcon and I, for about six months we worked together six days a week. He pushed me harder than I thought I could be pushed! But our work ethic is quite similar, so I tended to push myself as hard as he pushed me. He had a holistic approach that was invaluable in terms of my body confidence, health, strength and nutrition. We’ve become great friends, he’s amazing.
There’s a really interesting dynamic between Peter Parker and Dr. Curt Connors in the film, which changes….
Andrew Garfield: Yeah. The idea was that it’s a boy looking for his father and he ends up finding himself, ultimately. But in the process he find a father-surrogate, in a guy that was close to his dad, that has the same qualities as his dad, that brings out the qualities in Peter that haven’t been expressed or allowed, so he starts to feel more ownership over himself – like his brilliance in science and his intelligence. He starts to find a place for himself with Oscorp and with this Doctor, with this brilliant genius Doctor, Curt Connors. He starts to feel validated in a way that he’s never felt before and needed. And that’s a beautiful thing for an orphan to go through. But then of course, things don’t go to plan and he loses that father-surrogate to darkness, the shadow side I guess. Then Peter Parker becomes the father himself, he has to become the father to not only save Curt Connors, but to also save the city, to father the city. The idea was this wonderful idea of an orphan searching for his father, becoming a father to the whole city. How that links is such a beautiful path.
Can you talk a little about this incarnation of the Peter Parker/Spider-man story? For me, he’s definitely one of the most relatable characters in the comic book world.
Andrew Garfield: In this version of the Peter Parker story, ‘The Amazing Spider-Man,’ we’ve really focused in on him being an orphan, him searching for his identity and never really having a sense of it up until this point where he gets guided to Oscorp, and ultimately being bit by this radioactive, genetically engineered Spider. I feel like comic books and comic book films are our modern myths, in that they hold universal themes about being human that we need to be reminded of, over and over and over and over and over again (laughs). I think this struggle that Peter Parker has, of being a normal kid, like everyone, I think that’s why people relate to him, he is all of us, he is no different to any of us….and that’s why, to me, he’s the most important superhero. It’s more grounded and gritty and real, this version of the Peter Parker story.
What was your approach to Peter Parker and Spider-Man, what did you want people to take away from the film?
Andrew Garfield: What I wanted from the movie was the humour and the joy of Peter Parker and Spider-Man, and the resilience of an orphan. Like, he’s not a victim in my opinion, that’s what I tried to achieve anyway. He has certain….orphans are the most resilient of all people, so there was something in that, that I really wanted to achieve. He’s got such a core of good, that’s what he’s always been. He has heroic impulses without being a hero, even before he obtains his powers. So that when he does they’re very confusing for a while, but untimely he becomes who he’s meant to be. The idea of destiny and the humour and the lightness, I really wanted to achieve that.
Playing Peter Parker/Spider-Man, a character you admired growing up….not bad?
Andrew Garfield: (Laughs) I really won the lottery by getting to actually play an extended game of that for a couple of years. Like any game you get hurt and sometimes you have a little cry, then you get back up and start playing again (laughs). It was like a long play time. Peter Parker/Spider-Man, he’s been one of the dearest fictional characters in my own personal life, I started to read the comics as soon I started to read. And as I grew up and realised I was a bit of a skinny kid (laughs), I found myself in a skinny body, which didn’t make sense to me because inside I felt a lot stronger. Inside I felt like a Lion and outside I looked like a Spider Monkey, and Peter Parker feels like that to me. There’s definitely this pure, personal, fantasy fulfilment there that every young, skinny boy has had to find strength. Stan Lee’s creation of Peter Parker, Spider-man, has inspired me in my life personally, so stepping into this I felt equipped in a way. Because I know he’s sort of lived inside me for so long, like millions…countless other people. The character of Peter Parker/Spider-Man has meant a great deal to me since I was a child; my attraction to the character began early. I found hope in Peter Parker’s struggles and the trials he went through week in and week out in the comics, and I connected with that. I found it fascinating; there was something very real in the way Stan Lee wrote him and created him with Steve Ditko.
What was your reaction like when you first saw your Spider-Man suit for ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’?
Andrew Garfield: The first time I saw the suit, I thought it was so cool, and Kym Barrett, our costume designer, she did an incredible job re-imagining the suit while remaining true to what Steve Ditko originally drew. The first time I put on the suit, it was kind of surreal and joyous, because you see yourself embodying something that’s meant so much to you. It took about 20 minutes to put on the suit for shooting.
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