In a limo, en route to L.A. airport and just back from Asia and Australia, Andrew Garfield admits he’s happy he thought to throw a Spidey costume into his luggage as The Amazing Spider-Man 2 publicity voyage began.
“I mean, who am I? I still get star-struck around famous people,” the British actor says over his cell as he mentally prepares to take “the Spider-Man circus” on to the UK and Europe.
But early on, “we went to Sydney Children’s Hospital and I had the Spider-Man suit with me. And I thought, ‘Do the kids want to see the guy who plays Spider-Man? Or do they want to see Spider-Man?’
“And I put on the costume and it was pretty cool to see their responses. It was like being Santa Claus for a minute.”
A self-professed “over-thinker,” Garfield thought long and hard about what he wanted to take out of this part of the movie-release process.
“I basically was faced with this looming mission where I was going to be in the public eye for two months. I like being an actor, but I don’t like having what comes along with being an actor in this day and age. People’s entitlement to your personal life, and all that.”
File Garfield’s ostensible relationship with his female lead Emma Stone under “all that.”
Both choose never to address the subject. (And Garfield maintains that, save for the period of time around the release of a Spider-Man movie, few people even care.)
“If I didn’t have to do it, I wouldn’t. But I do have to do it,” he says of the web-slinger’s roadshow with Stone and Jamie Foxx (who plays the villain Electro).
“The question was, ‘How can I actually do it in a way that fits me?’ So we’ve been doing service work in every single city (including Singapore, Beijing and Sydney) taking the symbol of Spider-Man around. It’s about what the character represents and how we present him to the world.”
So he surfed with autism patients in Sydney, celebrated Earth Hour in Singapore, “and visited every school we could.”
If you’re going to commit globally, it helps to believe in the project. And Garfield is now willing to admit the first Amazing Spider-Man movie was a bit of a nightmare compared to this one. In fact, he confirms a story going around that he openly wept when presented with the new script by Alex Kurtzman (the Star Trek scribe who co-wrote TASM2 with former partner Roberto Orci).
“On the first movie, I had so many sleepless nights trying to make the script make sense, with (director) Marc Webb and the producers. They were in a bit of a rush to make it and the script was kind of a patchwork quilt. It was a trying experience.
“So yeah, I cried when I read the second script, and it was because, having had that experience on the first script, the second was purely beautiful from the first draft. When Alex Kurtzman pitched me the idea for the movie, I cried. I was so relieved. Here was a man who really understood Spider-Man and really understood where I wanted to go with the character.”
As The Amazing Spider-Man 2 opens, Peter Parker has reneged on his promise to the dying NYPD Capt. George Stacy (Denis Leary) to stop seeing his daughter Gwen (Stone). The guilt has him seeing Capt. Stacy everywhere. “Call him Banquo’s ghost or Hamlet’s dad, whatever. That’s what I’ve always loved about Spider-Man. Peter is beset by woes. He is one of us in that regard, facing problems and the big deep questions of existence. He’s an existential neurotic Jew in a sense, maybe because of the input of Stan Lee,” says Garfield, whose father is Jewish.
“To be clear, I’m not saying the character is any particular religion. It’s just my sense from being a quasi-Jew,” he says with a laugh.
Add Foxx’s Electro, and the ascension of Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) to what seems to be his Green Goblin-y destiny — and the most wise-guy patter of any Spider-Man yet (“I’ve always liked the fact that he’s a Trickster, more than someone who throws punches”) — and you have Garfield’s dream script.
After his first go-round as Spidey, Garfield took a sharp turn to Broadway, performing in a 2012 production of Death of a Salesman with the late Philip Seymour Hoffman.
“Aspects of that first (Spider-Man) experience were really trying. So there was a desire for me to go to work on a script by Arthur Miller,” Garfield says with a laugh.
“But outside of that, I kind of wanted to go home for a second, and theatre is my home definitely. I wanted to go back to myself in some kind of way.
“I think I was concerned what effect being a ‘known person’ would have on my psyche, on my direction in the world. There’s something I learned recently about bowing — as at the end of a play — that the original intent was to let the energy that is coming toward you pass over you, because it’s unhealthy to absorb it.”
Recently, Marvel announced an Amazing Spider-Man 4 for release in 2018. Webb and Garfield, however, are only contracted for three.
Garfield won’t say he will or won’t re-up. “I feel really happy with this movie and we’re excited about where the next one could go. Beyond that, I’m just living in the moment.”