April 22, 2014

TIFF ’10: Andrew Garfield talks ‘Never Let Me Go’ and his approach to ‘Spider-Man’

By Sean O’Connell

Hollywoodnews.com: Andrew Garfield is having a moment.

For those of you living under a rock (and lacking a decent wireless signal beneath said rock), the British actor has been chosen to don the iconic Spider-Man costume in Marc Webb’s reboot of Marvel’s superhero film franchise. Later this fall, Garfield has a part in David Fincher’s “The Social Network,” which documents the rise and fall of the young men behind Facebook. And at the Toronto International Film Festival, Garfield joins Oscar nominee Keira Knightley and Oscar nominee Carey Mulligan for Mark Romanek’s “Never Let Me Go,” a romantic drama set in an alternate existence where clones are bred for the purpose of donating valuable organs to prevent life-threatening diseases.

Adapted from Kazou Ishiguro’s novel, “Never Let Me Go” is beautiful and sparse, which Garfield would know if he took the time to watch it. He won’t. He tells me that he can’t … at least not objectively.

“All I see is the stuff I don’t do,” he said. “I don’t see any positives. I only see the negatives.

“It’s like listening to your voice recorded back, exponentially, like one-thousand-fold,” Garfield continues with a slight grin. “You are seeing your soul recorded back and its really upsetting. Because you don’t know how you come across. And why should you know how you come across? If you are too conscious of that, then you will be disabled and totally restricted in your own life. I just want to be free and be myself, reinvent myself, play different characters and be different things.”

The next thing he’s going to be, however, is huge. As Spider-Man, Garfield’s going to find it near impossible to avoid seeing himself everywhere. Yet when asked about his approach to taking on such a massive task, Garfield says he’s attempting to view it as just another role in just another movie.

“That may be naïve of me, but that’s how I’m treating it,” Garfield said. “I’m honestly treating it like this is a role that has meant a lot to me since I was four years old. And I have been waiting for the call since then to be given the opportunity to play with a bunch of awesome cameras and effects and to feel like I’m swinging through New York City. It’s a childhood fantasy come to life. But I’m just treating it like an extension of my seven-year-old self jumping for joy and climbing up doorframes. I’m just going to play to like I always have played it in my living room! It’s just an extension of that, with a bigger set, a bit more money, and a better costume. Although my mum’s homemade costume was pretty wicked.”

As for the challenge of playing a superhero from an actor’s standpoint, Garfield contends, “Its mythology. Comic books are derived from mythology. It’s ancient storytelling. It’s Shakespearean and Greek. It speaks to the same themes of what it means to be alive that a film like ‘Never Let Me Go’ deals with. [Spider-Man’s] struggle is the same as every young boy’s struggle. Who am I? What’s the best way to live? How can I serve something greater than what I am? Is there a purpose in this life? All of these themes … I find it just as rich. I’m so excited.”

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About Sean O'Connell

Sean O'Connell is a nationally recognized film critic. His reviews have been published in print ('The Washington Post,' 'USA Today') and online (AMC FilmCritic.com, MSN's Citysearch) since 1996. He's a weekly contributor to several national radio programs. He is a longstanding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Southeastern Film Critics View all articles by Sean O'Connell Association (SEFCA).

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