NEW YORK — Andrew Garfield knows he has some serious spandex tights to fill in “The Amazing Spider-Man,” the summer's hotly anticipated cinematic rebooting of the iconic Marvel Comics superhero series, which swings into the nation's multiplexes Tuesday.
As the new Peter Parker/Spider-Man, the California-born, British-raised Garfield takes over the high-profile role inhabited by Tobey Maguire in three popular Sam Raimi-directed summer blockbusters (2002, 2004 and 2007).
Now, with a new director, the aptly named Marc Webb, at the helm, a somewhat darker and edgier “untold story” to relate and some dazzling, in-your-face 3-D photography for added eye candy, the stakes for this lucrative adventure franchise are higher than ever.
And much of the pressure rests on the slight shoulders of the slender, boyish Garfield, who earned his acting bona fides with celebrated performances in “Never Let Me Go” and “The Social Network” and on stage in a just-closed Broadway production of “Death of a Salesman” (garnering a Tony nomination for his role as Biff Loman).
The 28-year-old actor — soft-spoken, politely modest and a self-described lifelong comic book fan (he has a snapshot of himself at age 3 dressed as the Spidey for Halloween) — sat down for questions during a press conference presented by Columbia Pictures in Soho's stylish Crosby Street Hotel.
Immediately he was asked if he had any feedback on the role from Maguire.
“To my knowledge he hasn't seen the movie, but I got feedback from the casting,” Garfield said. “When I got cast, Tobey sent an email to (producer) Matt Tolmach immediately and it was very, very generous, and it made me feel like I could take the torch in confidence and I had his support. He didn't need to do that, and it's a testament to him as a person. We're all just part of that family — the Spider-Man family.”
Truly a dream role
Still, Garfield said he's acutely aware of the high stakes involved in rejuvenating the franchise and anchoring a summer movie that will be worthy of the expected sequels to come. And given his childhood devotion to Spider-Man, he said the stakes are doubly high.
“I'm terrified to take on this role because it means so much to me and I know how much it means to other people as well,” he said. “Because I'm a fan first and foremost.”
So, how did he handle the pressures, emotionally and physically?
“I kind of didn't sleep very much,” Garfield said. “I dedicated myself to it really, I did. It's a weird thing. We all have that one fictional character, at least, that we care about so, so much, and if ever the opportunity came along for any of us to play it, to serve it, to do it justice, like when that moment comes you're like, ‘Oh God, I'm not allowed to sleep, I'm not allowed to think about anything else. I need to dedicate everything to this character who's given me so much in my life that I want to give all of myself to it.' So I didn't shake that feeling off at the end of the day.”
Garfield allowed that while this is his dream role — flinging webs, fighting crime and swinging gracefully between the skyscrapers of Manhattan — there was an awful lot of rigorous physical training required. The actor worked for weeks with stunt coordinator Andy Armstrong and his team, doing trampoline work, power core moves, basketball skills, martial arts, gymnastics and parkour work and honing his skateboarding skills.