Back as Peter Parker :: Andrew Garfield on Spider-Man Sequel
Andrew Garfield is Spider-Man. That seems normal to say now, but only two years ago he was the new guy being introduced in a reboot of the Spider-Man film series. "The Amazing Spider-Man" retold the story of how Peter Parker (Garfield), a high school nerd, got bitten by a genetically altered spider and gained the power to stick to walls, along with super strength and a slinging web he built himself in this version.
Naturally, there would be an "Amazing Spider-Man 2" and Sony Pictures has gone so far as to announce two more sequels as well as spinoffs "Venom" and "The Sinister Six." The second film in the series, opening this weekend, has Spider-Man face Electro (Jamie Foxx), Rhino (Paul Giamatti) and Harry Osborn (Dane Dehaan) as the new, younger Green Goblin.
Peter Parker... gay?
Last year, Garfield caused a stir when he suggested to Entertainment Weekly that the new Peter Parker could be gay. For now, his true love is still Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) and at Comic-Con last year, Garfield clarified that he was only asking a rhetorical question.
"Listen, what I said in that Entertainment Weekly interview was a question," Garfield said. "It was just a simple philosophical question about sexual orientation, about prejudice. I obviously long for a time when sexual orientation, skin color is a small thread in the fabric of a human being and all men are created equal, and women. To speak to the idea of me and Michael B. Jordan getting together, it was tongue in cheek, absolutely tongue in cheek. It would be illogical for me in the third movie to be like, ’You know what? I’m kind of attracted to guys.’ That’s just not going to work. That’s clear."
The reason Spider-Man won’t be gay is only that Spider-Man has existed in comic books for decades with love interests from Gwen Stacy to Mary Jane Watson. Garfield’s point was that a superhero could be gay and it shouldn’t matter.
"It was just more a philosophical question and what I believe about Spider-Man is that he does stand for everybody, black, white, Chinese, Malaysian, gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual, transgender," Garfield continued. "He will put himself in harm’s way for anyone. He is color blind. He’s blind to sexual orientation and that is what he has always represented to me. He represents the everyman but more importantly maybe he represents the underdog and those marginalized, those who come up against great prejudice which I as a middle class, straight, white man don’t really understand so much. When Stan Lee first wrote and created this character, the outcast was the computer nerd, was the science nerd, was the guy that couldn’t get the girl. Those guys now run the world, so how much of an outcast is that version of Peter Parker anymore? That’s my question."
A working class kid
Garfield just hopes that fans of all backgrounds can enjoy his Spider-Man, and know that he’s looking out for them. "In terms of teenagers nowadays, there are more horror stories you hear about young gay men and women not feeling accepted by society, attempting suicide, committing suicide in some cases. Who else is there to stand up for more importantly than them? Equally to everyone else, but we’re all the same is my point."
"The Amazing Spider-Man 2" may be Garfield’s second go-round in the red and blue tights, but Garfield admits he’s been rehearsing for a lot longer. "I felt like him since I was three," Garfield joked. "I felt like a kinship to the character since I was a three-year-old. I feel like the beauty of him is that he is all of us, in the sense that he is an everyman, in the sense of he’s very ordinary as Peter Parker and he’s struggling with the same things that we all struggle with, whether it’s his love life, his personal individuation, trying to figure out who he is, that kind of individual soul quest or having to do his laundry or having to make ends meet money-wise.
"He’s definitely this working class kid. And then there’s this extraordinary thing that he has, this extraordinary gift and to me that’s a metaphor of the extraordinary gifts that we all come into the world with individually, whether that’s for acting, journalism, jewelry-making, table setting, landscape designing, whatever it is."
Taking it in
Now that he is Spider-Man, Andrew Garfield is still taking it all in. The first "Amazing Spider-Man" movie included a revamped toy line of action figures in his likeness, and the sequel will surely prompt a new round of figures.
"I try not to look but then I went into Toys R’ Us before Christmas time, last Christmas, shopping for my nephews and I was like, ’I’ll meet you guys in the car.’ I needed a half hour to just absorb one particular aisle. It was humbling, just really, really humbling. Not something that I really identify with. It doesn’t feel real. It doesn’t feel like me, but it’s really cool. It’s just cool. It’s just as simple as that really.
"But also, it doesn’t really mean anything weirdly. It’s the suit. Kids are going to be excited to buy the Spider-Man figure when he’s got his mask on. Yes, people identify with Peter Parker but it’s not about the actor playing the role. It’s about the everyman nature of Peter and the everyman nature of Spider-Man and what he stands for and who he protects, all creatures great and small. That’s what’s exciting, the fact that I get to try to embody it and try to bring it to life for five/six year olds, that’s just an honor for me and one that I don’t take lightly, or that personally."
A real-life item
Garfield and leading lady Stone are a real-life item, and many credit the films’ success to their natural chemistry. Some of the film’s dialogue scenes are improvised between the two, as director Marc Webb encourages them.
"We had a great, great script and great, collaborative writers so there was a lot that was very set before we went and there was no need to add anything, but then also what came with that and the atmosphere that Mark sets up is this freedom to play really, and to be in the sandbox and to explore and see what works and see what doesn’t. He gives us time to really make mistakes and fail, and then occasionally out of that will come something that is unexpected and usable. So yeah, I think all the little moments are really partly my favorite moments of Spider-Man interacting with those sad souls on the earth, like all of us. I think that’s what sets him apart from other superheroes is that yes, he does have to save the city, he does have to save a bigger picture, but in the process, he’s going to walk a kid home, he’s going to help an old lady across the street, he’s going to save a cat from a tree. He’s the working class hero, which I think is what we all wish to be in some secret part of our selves."
Much of the improv in "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" will be imperceptible to the viewers. The way Garfield described it, it was more about the silent connections that improved scenes.
"I think coming back together for a second movie, you do develop a much deeper connection creatively, and I think the three of us felt that coming back together. There was less talk actually. It wasn’t necessary. It was more just signaling to each other up or down, left or right, quieter, louder, whatever. I’m never satisfied. I never want to leave a scene. I never want it to end because I know there’s more to explore forever. It’s very, very hard letting any kind of scene be put in the can as it were."
"The Amazing Spider-Man 2" opens May 2.