“I did a play, and that was all I needed to do to cleanse the ol’ palate,” he said in an interview with Vulture. “And it was quite a palate cleanser! It really did a number on me. I don’t make my life easy, I don’t know what it is. I have a masochistic quality about me, I guess.”
After starring in The Amazing Spider-Man and shooting the sequel (which will be released in May of 2014), the 29-year-old knew he wanted to take a hiatus from movie acting. “Any movie is technical. I find any movie frustrating in terms of its technicality, in terms of the repetition of takes,” he admitted. “I expect myself to be a robot on a film set, and that’s not fair to myself. Every take is not gonna be gold; the majority, in fact, aren’t gonna be. If you allow yourself to have those, that’s when you find spontaneity and truth and authenticity. I was in the middle of shooting the first film when [producer]Scott Rudin called and said, ‘I’m doing this play, I’d like you to do it.’ And Arthur Miller is my favorite playwright—I studied All My Sons in drama school. So it was an immediate yes.”
Even with the time away from the Spider-Man character, Garfield is still learning to adjust to his newfound fame.
“It’s all about perspective. It raises a very interesting philosophical question of ‘What is reality?’” he said. “Because my reality is that I’m a guy who struggled as a teenager—I’m still struggling now—to figure out who I am. I became an actor, trained at it, didn’t think I would be successful, got a play, had some time off, thought I wasn’t going to be successful again, got another play, had some struggles, broke up with a girlfriend…that’s my reality.
“So, if someone comes up to me with a different idea of that reality—if they feel like they’re meeting someone important—all I know is that they’re wrong, you know what I mean? Sometimes I will have the energy to let them know in a subtle, gentle way that I’m not what they think I am, and other times I’ll just be knackered and be like, ‘Okay, I’ll do a photo.’ I mean, I’ll do a photo anyway, but what’s important for me about being an actor and an artist is that your job is to be an observer, to reflect life back at an audience. And if you’re the one who’s being observed and looked at—if the attention is on you—it’s anathema to creativity. I feel watched as opposed to watching.”
At the rate his career is going, this isn’t likely to change anytime soon.