Interview: ‘The Amazing Spider-man 2′ Star Andrew Garfield

It wasn’t just Emma Stone who we chatted to about The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Also in Sydney to kick off the world press blitzkrieg was lead arachnid Andrew Garfield who took a shine to my Point Break t-shirt, leading to a great yarn before we remembered you, our beloved reader, and started the interview. Read on to see what Garfield really thought about the first film in the rebooted series, why he reckons this one is better, and a big digression into how much we’re both amped to see Godzilla.

I’ve had a few spirited arguments about the first ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ film. I think some people felt it came quite soon on the heels of the Raimi ones.

I get it.

I dig that though, I think that’s what those big tentpole superhero characters are good for. While those different takes on it are quite close to one another, your one’s probably closer to the spirit of what I remember from the comics than the Raimi ones were. You’ve got devices that shoot webs and you’re cheekier and you’re not as sullen. All good things.

[Laughs] I hope not. Thank you, thank you. I can have a spirited debate on either side too, and I did, with the filmmakers and with my mates. I was like, “Yeah, I don’t think that they should be making this movie that I’m in.” That I’m in but I’m resentfully in. [Laughs]. No, but you know what? It was a struggle, man because I love this character so much, just like I love Bodhi [Point Break]… Since I was three, he was my guy. So any compromise of the character is like an insult to my three-year-old self. And all those other three-year-olds that care so much about the character.

You don’t want to insult a three-year-old in an adult’s body. It’s dangerous.

Exactly! Because the impulses are there still and they’re not censoring themselves as much, and they have more strength than they know… So I was bummed at certain aspects of the story, ‘cause I didn’t read the script beforehand. They wouldn’t show me a script until I signed on. So it’s like, what do I do about that?

“Do I want to be Spider-Man or not?”

Pretty much that’s the question.

It feels to me there’s a lot of stuff paying off that I didn’t really detect in the first film. The story is set up or there’s certain parts being extrapolated out into places that are a bit unexpected. Do you think that’s fair?

In the second movie do you mean? Yeah, there was a lot of things in the first movie that I didn’t know we knew where it was going. Luckily we were smart enough to find… well, the producer was smart enough to find – and the studio was smart enough to get – Alex Kurtzman on as our writer for the second movie, who is a Spider-Man fanatic and feels the responsibility just as much as the rest of us. He really liked the first movie and he was like, “I really like it and I wanna know what happens in these moments, so I’m just gonna make them up and tell people what happens now.” That was kinda cool.

I guess you bought yourself that space because it does depart from canon a little bit. That to me was another really good justification why this series exists as well – it’s got a new story to tell. It’s not just recycling.

I think so. I was wondering about the first one, as there was some things we had to go over again. We kind of had to, and we tried our hardest to, do it in a unique way and I tried to bring all my own feelings about this character. I tried to let my three-year-old direct me. Like, be guided by the inner three-year-old. But now I think with this one, now that shit’s been established and we know that Peter’s been bitten by a spider, we know that he loves his aunt, we know that he is feeling bad about his uncle dying. That stuff is there, we know it, and now we get to tell a new story.

As an audience member those first entries of origin stories always have a certain element of box-ticking to them. And this is the part where you get that scope to do some…

Have some fun!

You contribute some pretty honest whoops of excitement during the web-swinging through the city scenes.

I was whooping. You know what’s funny though, the whooping was added in afterwards. Cos it’s hard to radio mic Spider-Man while he’s swinging. [laughs] A human in that suit is just going “Aaargh I don’t wanna be on this ride anymore!” So yeah, the whooping is ADR in a studio with headphones on going “Woo! Woohoo! Ah-oo! Alright! Was that good? Was that OK? More whoop? OK fine.” Like, drinking a coffee and just whooping.

Just going for it, doing some takes? There’s not a process, you’re just making noises?

[Laughs] What is good is you get to watch the images as it’s going so actually they had put together the images for where the whooping needed to be. And we were playing around as well in the ADR… because he’s got to be wise-cracking in the suit. We did a lot of that on the day, but then we got a couple of comedians in, Spider-Man fan comedians like Patton Oswalt came and helped us…

Guys that can just punch up the banter, right?

Just fucking around yeah, and we were improvising on the day and just throwing different things out and you can do anything, you can do whatever the fuck you want.

That’s awesome, it’s so crucial to the character and that’s… not to continually chuck Tobey Maguire under the bus, but I’m gonna do it anyway… It’s just not in his skill-set to have that kind of material, and you’re really good at it.

That’s very generous.

Because that’s one of the defining characteristics that’s absent from so many other Marvel characters.

I completely agree. And I hope we’ve done it justice and that we continue to, ‘cos to me the difference between Spider-Man and anyone else superhero-wise is that he’s entertaining himself while he’s saving New York City. And he is attempting to… he’s trying to piss off the villains while he’s making them punch themselves, you know what I mean? It’s trickster. It’s not just like, “I will defeat you and then I’ll go home”.  I like the idea of Spider-Man being a pacifist and not really liking to throw many punches. I like the idea of him using his enemies’ weaknesses against themselves. Like Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, this kind of trickster physical comedy kind of thing.

Absolutely. Like, he can catch a car and he can snap anybody in two…

Yeah, but he’d much rather do it like a bent arrow as opposed to a straight arrow.

And I guess that’s something else, it’s the age of the character as well and it’s how you would be if you were… how old is he in this film? Is it 18,19?

Pffffft… [laughs]

This is great, this is the best interview about a character since I saw Olivia Colman on Graham Norton the other night, she couldn’t remember her character’s name from Cuban Fury. Quite a big part, she’s on for like, 15 minutes.

It’s not so much that I don’t know the age, it’s that I feel embarrassed saying he’s 19 when I’m  a 30-year-old man. He’s in college so… I don’t know, what do you reckon? 19? 18?

You can play that age, it’s working. Just don’t do six of these movies.

Ha! I don’t intend to. I don’t want to outstay my welcome.

It’s interesting thing to watch your relationship with Emma play out, kids that are grappling with being grown-ups, because it’s sort of the era of the man-child in Hollywood. There’s 30 year-old pot-smoking dudes who behave like babies. I think it would be a tough sell to get a much younger actor to play some of those scenes and get what you’re on about. Your relationship with Gwen in the film, it’s at a crossroads quite frequently and there’s a lot of stuff going on for you. Without being too mopey about it.

Well that’s an annoying thing, that’s a tough thing because Peter goes through so much shit. Like, it’s a constant battle. Spider-Man is kind of easier than Peter. Spider-Man you put on the suit and you defeat the bad guys and you try and save the city but then as Peter it’s, um… it’s a fucking mess. It’s a mess all the time. the mopey thing is just like… come on! And I’m bummed because some of the trailers, they’ve made it mopey in the voiceover. And I’m like, “Why did we do that?” That’s not really how I remember the experience to be.

Hang on, a trailer’s not 100% accurate?

[Laughs] I struggle with that, I’m a purist. Did you see the Godzilla trailer?

Yes. Yessssssssssssssss.

It’s pretty good. I saw it at IMAX; I went and saw Gravity here.

They bloody played 20 minutes of it in Auckland today, and I’m here talking to you…. That’s terrible to say!

20 minutes of Godzilla? I’m sorry. I wanna be watching it as well.

That’s alright. Gareth Edwards looks like he’s done a great job with that movie, man ‘Monsters’ was good.

It looks fantastic.

It’s like, of course you’d want him to do it but it’s mental that he is.

Doesn’t it look unbelievable?

I get goose bumps every time I watch the trailer, and I’ve watched it probably a dozen times.

Me too! And I never do this. I was like, “Oh Godzilla, great. Gonna watch another fucking Godzilla movie” but then I was like “That is the greatest movie ever made.” I have a feeling this is gonna be the best film. I’m sorry you’re not there. I’m sorry I’m not there. I wish I was there with you.

Unbelievable. What else have you seen recently that you’ve enjoyed?

I thought Gravity was a masterpiece in cinema – technically, emotionally. That guy’s a genius, Cuarón.

Isn’t he? It was great to see that a film like that actually get on the Oscar radar. maybe it’s something tipping a little bit and people are paying attention to things that are a little less generic. We’ve had a cavalcade of great stuff with so many nominated films releasing in the past couple of months.

12 Years a Slave is really beautiful. Dallas Buyers Club! I really love McConaughey in that, he was fantastic. Nebraska was great. But Her was my film of the year.  Maybe because I have a relationship with Spike. I did a short film with Spike. Did you ever see this short film we did?

I don’t think I have.

It’s the only film I ever plug. It’s called I’m Here.

Oh right, I better check it out.

I think it’s your taste, just from your t-shirt and your general demeanour. I play a robot and if you liked Her, you’ll like it. It’s half an hour, it’s on YouTube and it’s a really beautiful film.

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