Andrew Garfield Loves Jonathan Larson and Lying About Spider-Man

The busiest man in Hollywood is ready to talk—about being a theater kid, losing his mother, and why he “loved” fudging the truth about his role in Spider-Man: No Way Home.

Andrew Garfield is ready to talk—about the admirable work of his older brother, a pulmonary specialist in London; about the awe-inspiring experience of seeing New Yorkers take to the streets in the wake of George Floyd’s murder; about the pain of losing his mother, Lynn, to cancer in 2019; about feeling a compulsion to jump into the ocean at Fire Island while preparing to film Tick, Tick…Boom!

The open water jolted him. “It was like I got the full download,” Garfield says. “It reminded me that sons and daughters have been losing their mothers since the dawn of time. And I had this very unique feeling of loss and grief. I’d just jumped into the club of losing the illusion that the person that gives you life is always going to be alive.”

Tick, Tick…Boom! turned out to be the right project for this consciousness-expanding moment. Playing the real-life theater composer Jonathan Larson, who died suddenly before he could see the wild success of his musical Rent, helped Garfield navigate the collective nature of loss.

In conversation, the California-born, England-raised actor is warm and effusive, speaking in meandering but coherent paragraphs. He’s also an astrology-dabbling part-time L.A. resident (Leo sun, Pisces rising, Aquarius moon, if you must know). When discussing acting, he speaks passionately about fate and spontaneity. For him, it is not the result of some calculated process but the expression of insuppressible instinct.

Garfield gave a remarkable string of performances in 2021, playing an alluring L.A. grifter in Gia Coppola’s Mainstream, scammy televangelist Jim Bakker in Michael Showalter’s The Eyes of Tammy Faye, and of course, Larson. They reestablished him as an unabashed man of the heart—or more colloquially, as I suggest to him, a theater kid. “Is it that obvious?” Garfield replies. “Is that clear? I’m proud. I wear that badge proudly. Theater saved my life. To be honest, I was an athlete, and I was a clown. I was an idiot. But until I was 16, I didn’t know theater was a thing. And then, yeah, I fell hard and fast, and there was no going back.”

Related Items