Andrew Garfield Starved Himself And Swore Off Sex For His Best Drama

That seems extreme.

By Michileen Martin | Published

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In the wake of claims that Jared Leto allegedly abuses his star power on movie sets under the guise of Method acting, the acting technique has become a controversial one. Some prominent stars have even publicly bashed the very concept of Method acting as well as those who employ it, while stopping shy of going after Leto or any of their other colleagues by name. But Andrew Garfield of The Amazing Spider-Man fame doesn’t feel like jumping on the bandwagon. The actor recently came out to defend the practice, as well as revealing he fasted and abstained from sex for 6 months to prepare for his role in Martin Scorsese’s 2016 historical drama Silence.

Andrew Garfield recently showed up as a guest on the podcast WTF with Marc Maron (via CBR), and talked about how he used Method acting to prep for Silence. “People are still acting in that way, and it’s not about being an asshole to everyone on set,” Garfield argued. “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.” He added later that he saw his Method acting during Silence as a “religious experience,” saying, “It was very cool, man. I had some pretty wild, trippy experiences from starving myself of sex and food at that time.”

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Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield in Silence (2016)

The subject of Method acting became a hot topic after stories from the Morbius production surfaced. Among other things, it was reported that because Jared Leto’s character starts off Morbius using a wheelchair, Leto insisted on using crutches getting to and from the bathroom during breaks. When those trips got too long, crew members were assigned to carry the star to and from the restroom. From what Andrew Garfield is saying, presumably in the same situation he and other actors who employ Method acting would not go so far as to delay production or humiliate crew members by insisting on being carried. Regardless, the technique itself came under fire.

Among those who attacked the concept of Method acting (and, by default, Leto) was Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal) who seems to strongly disagree with Andrew Garfield. Talking to GQ in April, Mikkelsen mused, “What if it’s a shit film — what do you think you achieved? Am I impressed that you didn’t drop character? You should have dropped it from the beginning! How do you prepare for a serial killer? You gonna spend two years checking it out?”

Jon Bernthal (The Punisher) was likewise said to have bashed the practice, but not really. In fact, from what he said a couple of weeks after Mikkelsen’s GQ interview, the We Own This City star seems to agree with Andrew Garfield. Rather than attacking the Method, he criticized those who abuse it. “Having studied in Moscow at the Moscow Art Theater, I guarantee you that making everybody call you by your character name and not showering for eight months was not what Stanislavski had in mind with the Method,” Bernthal said, referencing Konstantin Stanislavski who developed the technique.

It does seem like what Jon Bernthal and Andrew Garfield say about method acting is closer to the truth. Yes, there are now infamous anecdotes about Method actors like Jared Leto and Marlon Brando abusing co-stars and crew. Then there are people like Daniel Day-Lewis who employed it their entire career without a single allegation aimed in their direction. The behind the scenes features for the extended editions of The Lord of the Rings reveal Brad Dourif–who played Wormtongue in the films–spoke using his character’s accent during the entire duration of production and dropped it the second his final scene was done shooting. But no allegations have arisen about Dourif stalking Mirando Otto or any other female co-stars in real life. The Method is, likely, just like any other tool; it’s not about what’s being used, but the integrity of the person using it.