DAVID GREENE, HOST:
Let's hear now from an actor who is on the verge of super-stardom. Andrew Garfield started acting in England, where he grew up. He went on to make movies like "The Social Network." Now he's up for a Tony Award in the Broadway revival of "Death of a Salesman," and he hits big screens this summer in a very famous red-and-blue suit as Spider-Man.
(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE "THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN")
ANDREW GARFIELD: (as Peter Parker) This life is not an easy one. I've made enemies, put those I love in danger. But when your past is a mystery, how do you ever stop looking for the truth?
GREENE: "The Amazing Spider-Man" doesn't open until July, but we're going to do a little truth-seeking with Andrew Garfield now. I started by asking him how he takes a serious approach to what some consider a popcorn movie.
GARFIELD: It's very easy to take it seriously for me, because when you really look at the reality of this boy's life, Peter Parker's life, and the stuff that he goes through, it's a pretty serious set of circumstances that he finds himself in. If you really look at the idea of being bitten by a radioactive spider and what that would mean to a 17-year-old boy who's going through adolescence and attempting to find out the truth about the abandonment by his father and his orphandom(ph), and also falling in love for the first time. And then there's a giant mutant lizard that he discovers...
GREENE: It's a lot to handle.
GARFIELD: ...it's too much for anyone, let alone a 17-year-old kid. And that's where his humor comes in, because he needs to laugh. Otherwise, he'll just be crying all the time.
GREENE: Well, as I understand these circumstances, I mean, you sort of identify with them, in some way. Why is that?
GARFIELD: Yeah, of course. Some aspects of them. I mean, like, you know, the giant mutant lizard thing...
GREENE: Maybe not.
GARFIELD: ...was a big part of my five-year-old - when I was five, that was big - but, no, I mean, you know, I identify with him the same way that all the millions and billions of fans identify with him. It's wish fulfillment. It's fantasy fulfillment. He's a human hero that goes through all of the same struggles that we all have gone through, especially the skinny ones that want more power than they feel they have.
You know, I think it's a very inspiring, aspirational character that, I don't know, symbolizes goodness and how difficult it is to be good, but how worth it it is.
GREENE: If there's any symbol of your being a Spider-Man fan as a youngster, there is a picture, as I understand it, of you and your brother, and you're in a Spidey outfit.
GARFIELD: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That's - my mom and dad were hasty to dig that up as soon as they heard I was going to be auditioning for the role.
GREENE: But you did send it to the director of "Spider-Man."
GARFIELD: My agent did. My agents did. Yeah.
GREENE: Do you think that helped you get the part?
GARFIELD: I think that's the only reason I got the part.
GARFIELD: I think he was just like, oh, that kid's cute. I'll have to give it to that kid. Because I don't think anyone else sent in pictures of themselves at three.
GREENE: What was it like for you as an adult when it came time to put that Spider-Man suit and the mask for the first time?
GARFIELD: It was very exciting, but very uncomfortable. And kind of the reality of it is it's kind of that crazy, awful thing where fantasy is no longer. You know? And, you know, you're truly in spandex, which actually sucks...
GARFIELD: ...in reality. It's hard work being that guy. It's tough.
GREENE: As I understand it, I mean, there was some studying that you did, I mean, people like Muhammad Ali and a soccer player, Reynaldo, to try and understand the best way to move in an outfit like that, that's uncomfortable.
GARFIELD: Well, I wanted to have a sense of freedom, because of course, that's a part of the point of a disguise, is that it gives you anonymity, and therefore freedom. And I wanted to feel sexy in it, you know. I didn't want to feel uncomfortable and like I was, like, adjusting all the time. I wanted to feel free and sexy.
So I looked at a lot of, like, great athletes. And you watch the, kind of, the spectacle and the beauty of these physical acts. And I also studied spiders for the actual physicality.
GARFIELD: Yeah, because if you're going to do it and if you're going to treat it real -because, like, if my DNA is being mixed with that of a radioactive spider, then why not just actually bring in the physicality of a spider? The lightness, the patience, the stillness, and how that changes a 17-year-old boy. That's kind of a fun thing to play with as well, you know.
GREENE: You know, staying on this theme of kind of disappearing into this fantasy, I sort of wonder if you worry about, you know, you becoming too much this character, and if it could somehow define your career in many ways.
GARFIELD: Well, you know, I've thought about that a lot. You know, that was a big concern, of whether I was going to take on the role or not. Because of that, because I know that deep down, I just want to be an actor. I just want to be able to get to lose myself and have an audience suspend disbelief. And so I consider it, but there was a three-year-old in me, and I couldn't strangle him. And he was just, like, you're doing this for me.
And, you know, you get one life. And who am I to turn down playing one of my greatest heroes? So - but it's a fascinating thing to step into, and it's a ride. You know, it's a ride that I intend to have my eyes wide open for.
GREENE: What worries you the most as you get on this ride?
GARFIELD: I like meeting people. I like actually being able to hang with people. And I guess I'm concerned of the nature of that changing, not being able to meet people on just a - you know, meet strangers. You know, that sucks. I like walking around and I like talking to shopkeepers and people with dogs on the street, and I like being able to sit in parks and striking up a conversation with a family that I'm sitting next to, you know, without having a photo taken with them.
That would be nice, but I think, you know, that there's a - if the movie is seen by a lot of people, which I'm assuming it will be, that's going to be difficult to sustain. But, yeah, it does get weird when so many people think they know you. But I guess that's just another thing to be curious about.
GREENE: The reality of Hollywood, I mean, there must be already talk of a sequel before the first one comes out.
GREENE: Have you already signed on for a second movie, or are you going to wait and see how this goes?
GARFIELD: Well, what happens is when you screen test, if you want a screen test for a movie like this, you already signed a contract saying that you will do the movie if they ask you. You are basically signed on for three. And if - unless they don't want you anymore, which, you know, I mean, like, that would be a weird thing, but I don't think they'd want to do that. I hope not.
But, yes, so I am signed on for another two if we make them. And - but, I mean, let's get this one done first, and then we can talk about the others.
GREENE: Best of luck with "The Amazing Spider-Man" and "The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and 3," if it comes.
GARFIELD: Thanks. Thank you.
GREENE: Thanks so much for joining us.
GARFIELD: All right. Nice to talk to you. Thanks so much.
GREENE: Andrew Garfield is up for a Tony Award for playing Willy Loman's son Biff in the Broadway revival of "Death of a Salesman," and he will be playing Spider-Man in "The Amazing Spider-Man," which is due out this July.
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