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Spider-Man role takes actor from social network to A-list

“Spider-Man” role carries Andrew Garfield from a promising young actor in films such as “The Social Network” and on stage in an acclaimed revival of “Death of a Salesman” into a bankable, A-list movie star.
By Dennis King, For The Oklahoman Published: May 2, 2014
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As American-born, British-raised actor Andrew Garfield was vying for the much-coveted role of Peter Parker/Spider-Man in 2012’s reboot of the franchise “The Amazing Spider-Man,” he played one ace card that might well have won him the part.

A lifelong fan of the red-and-blue-clad web-slinger, the actor had in his possession a worn photograph of himself as a bright 3-year-old, decked out in a Halloween-quality replica of the Spider-Man spandex suit. Somehow, that photo landed in the hands of producers just before Garfield was chosen for the part.

“That might have been what put him over the top,” said one-time Marvel Comics head and film producer Avi Arad with a wry grin during press interviews for the hotly anticipated sequel, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” hosted by Columbia Pictures at the Crosby Street Hotel in SoHo. “Who could resist a 3-year-old in a Spider-Man suit?”

Later, as the rangy, 30-year-old Garfield entered the room for interviews, he feigned shock at the suggestion that the cute photo helped him land the role that has turned him from a promising young actor in films such as “The Social Network” and on stage in an acclaimed revival of “Death of a Salesman” into a bankable, A-list movie star.

“I would never be so devious,” he said, then paused. “But maybe my agent or my father would. My father really wanted me to get the role, and he knew I was a cute 3-year-old, so ...” He let that sentence trail off like an unspoken punch line.

In need of a hero

But when questions turned to his lifelong fascination with and admiration for Spider-Man and his estimation of the comic-book superhero’s cultural impact, Garfield became serious.

“Between the ages of 6 and 12, I experienced bullying, and it’s a wonderful thing to have a teenage example of a hero,” he said. “That’s what’s defining about Spider-Man. He’s just a kid. But he’s always committed to helping people, to rescuing them, even the villains.”

His own experiences as a bullied youth are what make him perfectly suited to don the Spidey suit, the actor said.

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