There are few plays in the history of American theater that carry the prestige of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. An upcoming Broadway revival (the first since the acclaimed multi-Tony Award winning 1999 revival starring Brian Dennehy) has long been announced with Philip Seymour Hoffman in the lead role and directed by stage-and-screen director Mike Nichols, but the supporting cast is starting to take shape now.
While Linda Emond will appear as Willy Loman’s wife while Andrew Garfield, star of the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man, will star as Willy’s son Biff, the one-time sports hero whose life has not amounted to much of anything since.
It’s a difficult role to balance, especially for someone just about to turn twenty-eight, yet Garfield brings with him an English theatrical background (Death of a Salesman would be his first appearance on the Broadway stage). It’s easy to write Biff off as a meathead jock who peaked too early, but anyone familiar with Miller’s plays knows that the character has far more dimensions than that. In the New York Post, Dennehy was asked about his portrayal of Willy Lohman in his Broadway run of Death of a Salesman, and Dennehy offered advice that Garfield might fight useful, explaining “Everybody starts off doing a great part the same way. They wrestle with it. And they wrestle, and they wrestle and they wrestle. Sometimes the part wins, sometimes you win. But at some point you have to stop and relax and let the part unfold. That’s easy to say, but very hard to do. It took me six months before I got that way in ‘Salesman.’ ”