Giving it his all. Andrew Garfield opened up about the lengths he went to to play a priest in the 2016 Martin Scorsese movie Silence.
“I had an incredibly spiritual experience,” the England native, 39, said on the Monday, August 22, episode of the “WTF With Marc Maron” podcast. “I did a bunch of spiritual practices every day, I created new rituals for myself. I was celibate for six months — and fasting a lot because me and Adam [Driver] had to lose a bunch of weight anyway.”
The Amazing Spider-Man star and Star Wars actor played 17th century Jesuit priests who travel to Japan to find their mentor.
“It was very cool, man. I had some pretty wild, trippy experiences from starving myself of sex and food at that time,” Garfield explained.
In order to get into character, the Under the Banner of Heaven star participated in the Ignatian spiritual exercises, which were created in the 1500s.
“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 stage and scene and moment in the life of Christ from his conception to his resurrection,” he explained.
Garfield added that the exercise is “more than just sitting and thinking” about Jesus. “You are actively, imaginatively creating a relationship with Christ through a series of prompts and questions and you end up in a pretty deep space.”
The Tony Award winner’s father is Jewish, but he wasn’t raised very religious at all. “I had a relationship with an imagined Christ by the end,” he said.
His dedication to imagining himself in someone else’s shoes — in this case, Jesus Christ — is really what method acting is based on rather than any kind of imposition on a movie’s crew. “I’m kind of bothered by the misconception, I’m kind of bothered by this idea that ‘method acting is f–king bulls–t,’” Garfield griped.
There have been several highly-publicized examples of “method acting” that don’t necessarily fit the technique Garfield studied. Jared Leto has infamously gone method for his roles, including sending a rat to Margot Robbie while they played Joker and Harley Quinn in 2016’s Suicide Squad. He also reportedly used crutches when he was on set for this spring’s Morbius, making the cast and crew wait up to 45 minutes as he hobbled his way to the bathroom in an attempt to feel the pain of his injured character (a compromise was later made for Leto to use wheelchair).
While on the podcast, Garfield did not name specific examples but emphasized the importance of true method acting not getting in the way of the filmmaking process. “It’s not about being an a–hole to everyone on set,” the Emmy nominee explained. “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 [the character] when you need to and staying in it when you want to stay in it.”