Who was the big Hollywood winner at Comic-Con International this year? Our vote goes to Andrew Garfield and “The Amazing Spider-Man,” the star and film that will ask moviegoers to start over with a new type of wallcrawler in 2012. Our Geoff Boucher caught up with Garfield to talk about arachnid life, fame and his cupcake-baking costar, Emma Stone.
GB: Coming into the role, was there anything you felt like you had to avoid as you put together your version of Peter Parker and Spider-Man?
AG: There’s so much to do with it, I didn’t really think about avoiding anything. I just didn’t come at it that way. I wanted him to have fun. I wanted it to feel like Peter Parker could have some fun and wasn’t just trying to save the world. He could have fun even after the responsibility has been thrust upon him and he has to save the city. I really wanted to do something physical that was genuine and authentic and inspired by the different artists over the years. His physicality is something which I’ve been obsessed by and I’ve loved.
GB: All the way back to the earliest comics, there was a distinctive, spindly grace to the character…
AG: Yeah. What would having spider DNA constituting a percentage of your blood — what would that do? So I studied spiders, I studied their movements and how they operate in the world and I tried to incorporate as much of that as I could. He’s a boy/spider in terms of how he moves, and not just in the suit. It also shapes the way he interacts with people. A spider is so sensitive; their skin is sensitive to everything. That’s the thing with the spider sense and the way he takes in everything. Imagine all of your skin was as sensitive as a spider, the slightest gust of wind would feel like a tornado going by. You’d always be rushing, that rush. What does that do to you? The idea of how he adjusts to that. And I looked at the idea of having more legs, more arms, and the spacial awareness. A spider moves up, down, side-to-side, all around. He’s not linear and with the knowledge of that spatial awareness and the fact that he can be here and then over there incredibly fast. The stillness of a spider and the lightness I found all of that very interesting to explore as well.
GB: You’ll be seeing yourself as an action figure soon and on billboards, Slurpee cups, magazine covers everywhere. All over the world, too, people will identify you not as Andrew Garfield the actor but as Spider-Man the hero. How are you preparing for that part of this job?
AG: I don’t like to think about it. It terrifies me. I don’t want that, actually. I just saw that I was given an opportunity to play a part that I’ve been wanting to play since I was a 2-year-old. I don’t see it any other way. I don’t want the rest of it. The visibility thing — the being a more visible actor or just a more visible person in the world — was the one thing that deterred me. That was absolutely the one thing I questioned. Do I want to do this? I thought about it for a month, constantly. I knew there would be a change in my life to an extent. I’m going to do everything I can to make sure I stay part of the world. I want to be able to walk around in this world. I love being alive and I love being a person and I love being able to meet people, meet strangers without them having any preconceived notion of who I am. I love meeting people. I love being me. I don’t want to be anyone else. Of course this comes with a certain life change but I’m going to do everything in my power to hold on to what’s important, which is I am a guy who does a job for a living that comes with some periphery stuff that I’m not interested in. I did take the role, I took it on, and i don’t regret it. It’s meant something to me for all of my life. But I’m going to do my best to remain me.
GB: More than most superhero franchises, the three “Spider-Man” films to date were defined by the romance between Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson. This is a fresh start with new stars, a new director and no Mary Jane, but romance is still central to the film with Emma Stone’s character, Gwen Stacy. What can you tell us about working with her?
AG: She’s the best. She’s very talented and I knew that going in. I didn’t know how nice she was going to be and how funny and how sweet and how generous she was going to be as a human being. She’s the kind of girl who brings cupcakes in for the crew and doesn’t tell them that they are from her. She really wanted to get under the skin of the character and make something authentic and real. She’s playful and fun and silly and constantly helped me to stay in a place where I didn’t take things too seriously. That’s important for me because I’m pretty serious as a person. It gets on my nerves how serious I can be. So she was a real gift.
– Geoff Boucher
RECENT AND RELATED