Friday afternoon's press conference for "The Amazing Spider-Man" at Comic-Con International in San Diego included director Marc Webb, actress Emma Stone (Gwen Stacy), producer Avi Arad, actor Rhys Ifans (Dr. Curt Connors/The Lizard) and producer Matt Tolmach, but the spotlight was predominantly fixed on the film's lead, Andrew Garfield. And with good reason -- he exuded genuine emotion regarding his role as Spidey, kicking off the Q&A with a touching look back at the day he learned he'd been cast in the role of Peter Parker.
"I was in Cancun at the Sony press junket for 'The Social Network,' and I was waiting to hear about whether or not I'd be able to fulfill a childhood dream," Garfield recalled. "At the end of a press day, [Sony Pictures Co-Chairman] Amy Pascal's assistant got me and said, 'Amy wants to quickly have a word with you up in her suite.' I was like, 'Oh, OK, fine...she's going to tell me personally that I didn't get the role, that's incredibly lovely.' So I walked into her room, and there was a flip-video camera set up on the door as I came in, but the person that answered the door was Marc Webb. At that point I was like, 'OK, well, this is gonna be the most defining experience of my life and a kind of turning point.' And there was champagne, there was sweetness, and there was lots of love in that room, and I'll never forget it. They gave me a really special thing to tell my grandkids."
Also evident was Garfield's knowledge and love of the original source material -- when asked about which of the Spidey incarnations he favored growing up, he answered, "The 'Torment' series is one of my favorites; the McFarlane series. I only got into the Ultimate [books] doing research for the film, but that was a really great source of how I wanted Spidey's body to look. I really loved the artwork in that -- how lithe and skinny he was, because I'm skinny. I love the idea of a skinny teenage kid beating the crap out of huge guys -- that's always been a dream of mine that I wanted to personally fulfill, and what better way to do it than give all the skinny kids in the audience that sense of achievement, as well?"
As far as this particular film goes, Garfield, Webb and Arad also confirmed that -- in keeping with the tone of the comics -- Peter Parker's web-slinging alter-ego will assume more of a sense of humor when fighting his adversaries. Garfield took it a step further by wisecracking, "They hired a comedic actor to wear the suit, and he wrote the jokes -- it's brilliant. It's Judd Apatow in the suit."
The fantastic chemistry between Stone and Garfield was also apparent -- the two played off each other numerous times during the panel, and Stone even admitted she took the part because of Garfield.
"My character [Gwen Stacy] experiences everything with Peter," she explained. "It's her first love, and they teach each other so much...once I read with him and once I met him, it just made sense."
A particularly adorable interaction between the on-screen love interests came in the form of Stone recalling her reaction upon seeing Garfield in costume for the first time: "I walked in, and he was in the full Spider-Man suit...," to which Garfield interrupted, quipping, "...scratching my ass." Stone didn't miss a beat, firing back, "...scratching his ass. Which was great!" She went on to recall, "I think I really inappropriately just started touching you," while groping Garfield's arm to illustrate. "And he's like, 'Stop touching me!'" She laughed, adding, "And I said, 'You have to realize that everyone is in the room with Spider-Man! This isn't just about you!'"
Garfield shot back, "She was also wearing a Spider-Man costume." Among laughter from the audience, Stone shook her head in the affirmative, saying, "Isn't that funny? Isn't that weird? It's such a small world!"
On a more serious note, Arad shattered any pipe dreams fans may have regarding the merging of this incarnation of Spidey with the onscreen Marvel Universe that's been established. "Obviously in the comics, the team-ups and the mix-ups and so on, that's a way to keep publishing going for that many years, but I think Spider-Man has a huge universe of its own...so it's not even something we're thinking about because we have so much more to tell. That's why we made this particular movie."
In a turn of events appropriate for Garfield's light, enthusiastic mood, towards the end of the event he graciously doubled as a telephone answering service when a journalist's cell -- set in front of the panel to be used as a recording device -- began buzzing. Garfield picked up, and here's what ensued: "Hello? [pause] This isn't Rob, this is Andrew. Andrew Garfield. This is a press conference for 'The Amazing Spider-Man' at Comic-Con. [pause] No problem, bye! Rob -- someone called, if you're free...I dunno." Polite phone manner aside, Garfield's easy manner and natural magnetism were palpable -- we're certainly hoping this bodes well for his appearance on-screen when the movie swings into theaters next summer!