Web: John Block/Getty Images; Garfield: Eric Levin
For Andrew Garfield, starring in The Amazing Spider-Man is a childhood dream come true. But even superheroes get scared sometimes.
It's a gorgeous day in New York — cloudless and unseasonably warm, and it’s all anybody can talk about. It’s a Monday, but no one seems to be office-bound, as throngs of people lounge lazily in Central Park, visit on benches and take advantage of the fact that the term lunch hour has become more colloquial and less a defined length of time. “In New York, no one works when it’s nice out,” someone later tells me.
But Andrew Garfield is working, despite today being his day off. The 28-year-old doesn’t have the luxury of days off. Not anymore.
I arrive at Pier 59 Digital Studios, a sprawling maze of soundstages and otherwise empty rooms where photographers, designers and production companies make their respective magic happen. But today, there appears to be just as much activity happening outside the Chelsea Piers complex as there presumably is inside. A half-dozen squad cars line the perimeter of the building, lights flashing. Police officers direct joggers and other passers-by to a sidewalk on the other side of the street, away from the building. The locals seem mostly inconvenienced and annoyed, not mildly curious about what might be causing this unexpected interruption. But I know something they don’t: Garfield — the newly crowned Spider-Man — is inside. These New Yorkers don’t bat an eye.
I find Garfield on the outdoor deck of the Studio Caffé, which overlooks the Hudson River. With the sun sagging eye-level-low in the sky, he’s squinting through his wayfarers, so we retreat to a shaded daybed, where he removes his sunglasses and tucks his knees into his chest, lying back until he’s nearly in the fetal position. He’s been sick, he says, and apologizes if he looks or sounds like he feels, which is to say, bad.
“Just … something stupid,” he says, half humbly dodging the question of what he’s doing at the studios that day and half honestly commenting on what’s become of his life. “There have been a lot of stupid things happening lately.”
He’s referring to the media circus surrounding his title role in this month’s The Amazing Spider-Man — an already-deafening buzz that’s been building to a crescendo over the last few months. It’s kicking into high gear now, and frankly, Garfield — who up until now has appeared in just a handful of films and has managed to stay relatively under the radar — appears apprehensive. Tense. Pained, really. Perhaps his expression, one of a permanent wince, is the result of the cold he’s nursing or the sun’s glare in his eyes. But my hunch is it’s not.
See, Garfield has made no secret of the fact that he positively does not want to be famous. In our sit-down, he speaks of the loneliness that comes with being a celebrity and tells the magazine editor interviewing him for a cover story, however politely, that he has no desire to be on magazine covers. He’s said in other interviews that such conspicuousness “terrifies” him and that he hopes he never “blows up.” But if there’s one thing Spider-Man does — be it in comic books; the four animated televised incarnations from 1967 to 2003; the aughts-spanning movie trilogy starring Tobey Maguire; the high-priced, mechanically plagued stage show scored by U2’s Bono and The Edge that’s currently running on Broadway; or this latest box-office installment, rumored to have a budget north of $200 million — it’s get noticed. So why would Garfield, considering his aversion to attention, sign up for such a project?