Andrew Garfield Applying <i>The Social Network</i> Lessons To <i>Spider-Man</i>

Andrew Garfield earned plenty of props for his role in James Marsh's Red Riding Trilogy, but it was 2010 that proved to be a golden year for the actor. First he was cast in The Social Network, David Fincher's excellent Facebook biopic, and then he went nuclear with the news that he would also be replacing Tobey Maguire in Marc Webb's Spider-Man reboot. Initial skepticism over the casting quickly faded away after Social Network arrived, proving incontrovertibly that Garfield is a figure that all fans of film ought to be watching.

And watching we are. Garfield recently sat down for a chat with the Los Angeles Times about his recent successes and his upcoming work. I'll get to Spidey in a minute. The Social Network is one movie that everyone will be looking at closely during the coming awards season. It seems certain that what really amounts to a first-class ensemble effort on the part of the director, writer, performers and composer is going to emerge with at least a few of those shiny Oscar statues. Garfield maintains a healthy skepticism however, born of past experience.

"I've learned you can't second-guess these things," he said. "The first film I did was Lions for Lambs with Robert Redford directing and Meryl Streep and Tom Cruise starring. It was a very worthy script, and I thought, 'This is literally going to define our time.' And the film didn't do well at all. People hated it, to be honest."

Of course, we're now long past the point where The Social Network has to prove itself at the box office. Garfield recalls feeling worried about taking on the Eduardo Saverin role initially, due in large part to Fincher's penchant for piling multiple takes on top of multiple takes. "I remember speaking to Jesse before we started shooting, and we were both really concerned. I like the first take. It's usually the best. You're raw. You're going on adrenaline. So we went in with a preconceived notion about how negative the experience was going to be."

It turned out to be an eye-opening learning experience for Garfield in the end. "What David affords actors is freedom and not having to get it right," he said. "By focusing on getting it right, you're going to do something tight or pedestrian because you're trying to hit something in a way you deem correct. David makes you go again and again until you trip up and something spontaneous happens. In not having to get it right, you get it right."

Spider-Man is going to be another learning experience, no question. Even working with Fincher can't fully prepare Garfield for the realities of headlining a full-fledged blockbuster, one which boasts a legion of fans made suspicious by a sub-par previous outing and a wholesale reboot of the franchise. "The overriding theme of the comic is: With great power comes great responsibility. And, yes, I feel a huge sense of pressure and responsibility," he said.

Things seem to be going well so far however. The actor is already on set making that movie magic happen, and he definitely seems to be enjoying himself: "We're two weeks in. The first week was full of stunts, and I've never felt happier in my whole life. I'm all bruised and scratched up, and it feels really good. It's just me throwing myself up against walls, which is incredibly fun and painful and testing my manhood. It's a childhood fantasy I'm living out."

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