Method acting is never far from the headlines as the technique seems to rally just as much support as it does hate from Hollywood insiders. Andrew Garfield is firmly in the former category.
“I’m kind of bothered by the misconception, I’m kind of bothered by this idea that ‘method acting is fucking bullshit,’” the 39-year-old actor told Marc Maron on the latest installment of his WTF podcast. “People are still acting in that way, and it’s not about being an asshole 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.”
Garfield, making an appearance on behalf of his Emmy nominated turn in FX’s limited series Under the Banner of Heaven, broached the subject while speaking about a screen test he did opposite Ryan Gosling for a potential adaptation of Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.
“He was alive, he didn’t care about doing it the same way over and over again. He was listening, he was very present, he was spontaneous, he was surprising, he wasn’t trying to be those things,” said Garfield who would go on to work with Gosling’s acting coach Greta Seacat who has also worked with Laura Dern, Jessica Lange and Michelle Williams, among others. “There was a Zen quality to it, but it was like being in a scene with a wild animal where you don’t know whether he was going to kiss you or kill you. And you hook into that, and you’re like ‘Oh, I want to follow whatever that is.’”
Garfield went method to play a 17th century Jesuit priest in Martin Scorsese’s 2016 film Silence. He revealed that for six months, he abstained from sex while also fasting to lose weight for the part, which cast him opposite Adam Driver and Liam Neeson.
“I had an incredibly spiritual experience. 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 had to lose a bunch of weight anyway,” he explains. “It was very cool, man. I had some pretty wild, trippy experiences from starving myself of sex and food at that time.”
Listen to Maron’s WTF episode here.