Andrew Garfield on ‘Death of Salesman’, Playing Spider-Man, and Handling Celebrity

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Perhaps ten or twenty years ago it would’ve been quite a shock for an actor to go from starring in what many consider the greatest American play on Broadway to playing a superhero in a big-budget movie that opens a few weeks later.

But when the actor is as talented and passionate as Andrew Garfield it isn’t so surprising.  In a candid interview with the New York Times, Garfield spoke about the vast difference between the two roles and how he deals with celebrity.

Garfield admits the he took on the role in A Death of a Salesman in a way as a response to his experience shooting The Amazing Spider-Man, saying, “It was more of an antidote to the previous experience.  Not that the previous experience was bad, just that it was specific. I wanted to balance it out somehow. Plus, any mention of Miller, I’m sold.”  In fact, he confesses that Biff’s growing pains are similar to his own struggle to establish his identity, explaining, “The struggle of Biff is so universal, especially for someone my age: trying to come to terms with who you are as opposed to who you thought you should be.  That’s why there are sobs in the theater, because everyone has an understanding of that very distinct feeling of: ‘Let me go. Let me be what I am.’ I’m going through that right now.”

Part of that identity crisis might be that in two months he will be a great deal more famous than he was before because of The Amazing Spider-Man.  In another admission, Garfield says he doesn’t look forward to the publicity tour.  He says, “I just kind of want it to be done now.  The only reason for me to not do the Spider-Man movie was because it was a big movie. Which is usually a reason to do a movie. But the exposure that comes with it was the drawback. I hemmed and hawed about it for a month, but I took it because I’d been a fan since I was 3 years old. I couldn’t say no. It was a dream.”

Still, Garfield reveals that he feels such premiere events and press junkets bring out the worst in him.  He explains, “It’s not something I take to naturally.  I still have to find my comfort zone within it where I can protect myself and be good to the people around me. But it brings up things in me that make me a bit spiky, and I don’t want that.”

Garfield points out that though both Peter Parker and Biff Loman are featured in vastly different works, the characters are both full of conflict.  While he tapped into his appreciation of that for his performances, he hints that his future might hold something different, saying,  “It’s true that I’m drawn to conflicted characters.  I find the struggle interesting. But I think Biff might be the last in a long line of tortured souls. I don’t know what I want next, but I do think it’s changing.”

Considering work has already begun on a sequel to The Amazing Spider-Man, I don’t think Garfield is yet done with conflicted characters.

Death of a Salesman is now at the Barrymore Theatre.  It runs through June 2.  The Amazing Spider-Man opens on July 3.

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About Author

In college, overachiever Christopher McKittrick double-majored in Film and English because he loves to read, write, and watch movies. Since then Chris – who was born and raised on Long Island, New York and currently lives in Queens – has become a published author of fiction and non-fiction, a contributor to entertainment websites, and has spoken about literature, film, and comic books at various conferences across the country when he’s not getting into trouble in New York City (apparently it’s illegal to sleep on street corners...) For more information about Chris, visit his website here!

2 Comments

  1. Ken Murray via Facebook on

    Should have asked him what it’s like playing a guy who denounced the US and is hiding in Singapore so he doesn’t have to pay taxes to a country that saved his life

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