It's a good time to be Andrew Garfield. The 26 year-old Brit (albeit one born in the US, to British/American parents) is one of the finest young actors in the business, and finally - after turns in the likes of Lions For Lambs, Boy A and the first part of the Red Riding trilogy - he's hitting it big.
Not only did he break hearts in Mark Romanek's affecting Never Let Me Go, he bagged a small role in an upcoming flick called... Spider-Man. Not sure what it's about. Probably a sequel to Arachnophobia.
And then there was the film that, in all likelihood, put him on Sony's Spidey radar: David Fincher's The Social Network, in which he played wronged Facebook co-founder, Eduardo Saverin. With the film coming out on DVD next week, we caught up with him to talk multiple takes and Michael J. Fox.
We also talked about Spider-Man. For those quotes, and more from Garfield, pick up the new issue of Empire, now on sale.
It’s been a heck of a year for you. Can you see this year being any better?
Nope. It’s all downhill from here.
Just quit now.
I kind of considered it for a second. I’m still kind of considering it.
David Fincher didn’t hang around when making The Social Network, did he? He’s got this reputation for being very meticulous, but he seems to have worked incredibly quickly on that movie.
I was wondering about that. In this particular instance, I was musing on the idea that he wanted to get through production quick and release it quick because of the essence of the invention itself. That’s what the characters in the story were doing – Mark Zuckerberg wanted to make Facebook quick and get it out quick, before everyone else. I think that was David Fincher’s ethos, but I might be completely wrong.
It’s a fantastic script. When you read a script like this as an actor, do you think if I knock this out of the park, there could be awards?
Not at all, not at all. The only thing going through my mind when I first read the script was if I don’t get in the way, this will be a great story. It’s written so concisely that anything an actor adds to it is superfluous. I felt that way going into my audition, which was with Aaron Sorkin. He was reading with me. I was reading his lines with him and hearing him say his lines in the way they should be said, which is like a cheat sheet. You can hear how his inflection worked and you just copied him. That was what I was thinking going into the movie. We just have to honour it. That’s all we have to do, just honour it and allow these masters to do what he was going to do.
Did Aaron play Mark?
He was reading Eduardo. I was reading Mark. I never read for Eduardo. I don’t know if I was reading for Mark, officially, but those were the scenes I was reading. Then eventually they asked me to play Eduardo. I don’t know what the logic was behind that, but you trust them!
So how do you think you would have felt if you’d been offered the role of Zuckerberg?
I would have been less surprised. I would have been just as happy. That was what I thought I was reading for. I was really shocked when he mentioned Eduardo. I was baffled. I had to take my head out of the last two weeks of preparing for auditioning as Mark in the script. It was very, very strange, but I went home and re-read it and was like, yeah, this is a pretty good role too. This is absolutely fine. To be a part of the film was the thing, I think.
So you didn't know you were auditioning for Eduardo. Does Fincher hold things back? Is he secretive?
I think he gives you information you need. I don’t think he overwhelms you with information. I don’t think he’s malevolent in his secrecy. He’s very economical and he wants you to focus only on what you have to focus on. He’s very aware of the tenderness of an actor’s focus. He’s aware we have the attention span of a gibbon. He makes sure he only feeds you what is going to get the best response. Otherwise he doesn’t feel the need to express much.
Fincher is well known for his multiple takes method. How was that for you?
|It’s not like David Fincher goes, ‘I need to do a hundred takes of each scene’. He goes until he feels satisfied. |
It’s not like he goes, ‘I need to do a hundred takes of each scene’. He goes until he feels satisfied. What’s incredibly lucky and wonderful is on this film, the money went to time. He gave us, as young actors, time to play and to find the tone of the scene, the rhythm of the scene, the rhythm of the language and the relationships within the scene and how they all develop. His ethos is we’re all here on set, we’re all being paid to be here, which is ridiculous. We have a duty and a responsibility to do everything we can to squeeze as much juice out of ourselves as we can. He never counted the takes. He was like, ‘go again, go again, that’s a nice moment, keep that, go again’. He would guide us to get to where he wanted us to get to. It was a great experience.
Kubrick did much the same thing and there are some horror stories from his shoots. It wasn’t a dehumanising process for you?
Not at all. There were periods of time within each scene on take 30 or take 36, for six or seven takes, where you’d be numb and dead inside and lose sense of anything you were doing or anything you were saying or anything you intended or your relationship with any other character in the scene. But what came out of that numbness was spontaneity, actually. You let go and he beats the acting out of you and suddenly you’re there in a situation again. It was very interesting.
Do you have a plan for your career?
I think subconsciously I do. There’s nothing Machiavellian or controlling about it. I follow my heart really, which is all I’m able to do. Which sometimes leads me into foolish endeavours and sometimes works out. I’m really excited to have that opportunity to do that. Sometimes actors don’t find themselves in a position to do that. I don’t tak that lightly either. I’m aware how difficult it is for actors to find work. I consider myself a part of that group. I did a lot of odd jobs in the interim between theatre pieces. It wasn’t just immediately handed to me. I understand that struggle and I’m sure I will continue to understand it after I have massive failure. But I don’t take it lightly. I’m able to follow my instincts and follow my heart in terms of the stories that I want to be a part of.
You haven’t met Eduardo, have you?
I never met Eduardo and I still haven’t. I would love to and I would have loved to. It looks like it could be more possible, as I’m discovering more and more people that I know that he knows, that I may be able to get in touch with him to see how he is. I think it would be a good thing to meet him.
If you did meet Eduardo, what would you say to him?
I’d be lost for words, to be honest. I’d get very excited and then sit in silence for a while. It might be terrible.
Let’s try to make this happen.
It might be terrible! (laughs)
The obvious Spider-Man gig aside, you’re something of a geek, aren’t you? There are pictures of you wearing a Teen Wolf T-shirt – is that in any way ironic?
Not ironic. Teen Wolf is one of my favourite films of all time. If I’ve had a terrible day and am feeling down in the dumps, I can put on Teen Wolf and by the time he’s doing a handstand on the top of Stiles’ truck, I’m giddy and pretty much crying with joy.
Big Michael J. Fox fan?
He’s the master, dude. I rewatch Back to the Future every month, I think. I’m still blown away by that film and him in it.
Where do you stand on Teen Wolf Too?
Dude, I’m for anything with Teen Wolf in the title. The new MTV show, Teen Wolf, I would cameo on that for sure!
Yeah yeah yeah! I’d play the rival wolf or whatever.
Let’s see if we can make this happen. That, and meeting Eduardo Saverin.
This is my list of requests. This is my bucket list. I’m going to die next year. (laughs)
The Social Network is out on DVD and Blu-ray from February 14.