‘Wild, trippy experiences’: Andrew Garfield explains his love for Method acting
Andrew Garfield is an Actor with a capital A. And if there’s one thing Actors do, it’s defend acting.
In a recent appearance on the “WTF With Marc Maron” podcast, the Oscar-nominated actor stood by the oft-maligned art of Method acting.
“There [have] been a lot of misconceptions about what Method acting is, I think,” Garfield said. “People are still acting in that way, and it’s not about being an a— to everyone on set. It’s actually just about living truthfully under imagined circumstances, and being really nice to the crew simultaneously, and being a normal human being, and being able to drop it when you need to and staying in it when you want to stay in it.”
Actors Brian Cox and Mads Mikkelson are among the recent and vocal detractors of Method acting. In a 2021 New Yorker profile on his “Succession” co-star Jeremy Strong, Cox lamenting “the crises he puts himself through in order to prepare.” And Mikkelson was critical of the practice in an April GQ profile, saying “it’s b—.”
“This show is a clear reflection of the kind of fundamentalism that is creeping into public life. The scariest part is that there is this kind of cheering on of ignorance,” the actor says of his series looking at a fundamentalist Mormon sect.
But Garfield insisted that the practice’s image has been hurt by actors behaving badly and claiming it as Method.
“I’m kind of bothered by the misconception, I’m kind of bothered by this idea that ‘Method acting is f— b—.’ No, I don’t think you know what Method acting is if you’re calling it b—, or you just worked with someone who claims to be a Method actor who isn’t actually acting the Method at all,” the “Hacksaw Ridge” actor said. “It’s also very private. I don’t want people to see the f— pipes of my toilet. I don’t want them to see how I’m making the sausage.”
The “Under the Banner of Heaven” star recalled employing Method acting in Martin Scorsese‘s 2016 religious drama “Silence,” in which Garfield played a 17th century Portuguese Jesuit missionary who ventures to Japan. For the role, Garfield studied Catholicism with renowned Jesuit priest Father James Martin and took special note of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises.
“It’s basically a 31-day retreat that you do where you actively meditate on the life of Jesus Christ and you place yourself, using your imagination, into every single stage and scene and moment of the life of Christ, from his inception to his resurrection,” Garfield said. “It’s a transformational process. I had a relationship with an imagined Christ in my head by the time I had finished this retreat.”
That is not the only thing he did to embody the life of a priest.
“I had some pretty wild, trippy experiences,” Garfield added, “from starving myself of sex and food for that period of time.”
Garfield also highlighted other several acclaimed performances that implemented the Method approach in seemingly non-problematic ways.
“You see [Al] Pacino in ‘Dog Day Afternoon’ ... and you see someone who is following his impulses,” Garfield noted. “Every single impulse is raw, real and it’s vulnerable and it’s grotesque and it’s beautiful, it’s poetic.”
Speaking on Robert De Niro‘s role in 1986’s “The Mission” Garfield said, “Every single moment is so pure ... a bunch of mysterious s— happens in his body, in his psyche.”
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