Andrew Garfield Had "Trippy Experiences" During Months of Fasting & Celibacy
It was all part of his self-imposed preparation for the 2016 film Silence.
Actors sometimes go to extremes for their roles, whether that's altering their appearance, losing or gaining weight, learning a difficult new skill, or embodying their character's life in some other way. For some performers, getting into their part in this way is necessary because they study method acting. Method acting involves an actor inhabiting their character and that character's inner self, so that their performance is more realistic. In a new interview on the podcast WTF with Marc Maron, Oscar nominee Andrew Garfield defended method acting, which has taken a bit of a beating in the press and from other actors recently. As part of his preparation for the 2016 Martin Scorsese film Silence, he fasted and was celibate for months, which he says led to some "trippy experiences." Read on to see what else the actor had to say.
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He plays a Jesuit priest in the drama.
In Silence, Garfield and Adam Driver star as 17th century Jesuit priests, who travel from Portugal to Japan as missionaries and to find another priest (Liam Neeson), who they hear is being tortured in the country after trying to spread Catholicism. It was a critical success but did not do well at the box office.
Garfield lost weight and abstained from sex for the role.
In his interview with Marc Maron, Garfield explained that in order to get into character for Silence, he studied Catholicism and worked with Jesuit priest and writer James Martin for a year. He also became celibate and lost 40 pounds of weight.
"I had an incredibly spiritual experience," the Under the Banner of Heaven star said. "I did a bunch of spiritual practices everyday. I created 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 said that the practices he kept included prayer and meditation.
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He said this led to "wild, trippy experiences."
Garfield explained in the interview that depriving himself impacted him in unexpected ways. "It was very cool, man. I had some pretty wild, trippy experiences from starving myself of sex and food for that period of time," he explained.
Maron added, "Of course, your brain's got to do something." The Amazing Spider-Man actor laughed and said, "Gives you some gifts, for sure."
He also went to a week-long silent retreat.
In an interview on The Late Show in 2017, Garfield talked about preparing for Silence, including literally going silent for a seven-day retreat. He said that after he and Driver left, they had "the most disgusting, dirty, awful, dark conversation for three hours on the way to the airport." He continued, "It was like the devil felt so left out of the last seven days … We went to the darkest place for three hours."
He also said of losing weight for the role, "You just kind of don't eat and get very, very angry at everything around you … The not eating makes you incredibly [angry]." He added, "It was brutal. We would kind of be sneaking blueberries and almonds between takes."
He defended method acting.
Other celebrities have publicly talked about their distaste for method acting, including Mads Mikkelsen, who called it "pretentious," and Sebastian Stan, who called it "self-indulgent." Meanwhile, a few actors who subscribe to the method have made headlines for related behavior that some find inappropriate, such as Jared Leto pretending to have a disability between takes while filming Morbius.
On WTF with Marc Maron, Garfield defended method acting by explaining that it doesn't have to be as all-encompassing—or as rude—as some people make it out to be.
"There's been a lot of misconceptions about what method acting is, I think," he said. "It's not about being an [expletive] 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."
The 39-year-old continued, "I'm kind of bothered by the misconception. I'm kind of bothered by this idea that 'method acting is [expletive] [expletive].' No, I don't think you know what method acting is if you're calling it [expletive], or you just worked with someone who claims to be a method actor that actually isn't acting the method at all. It's also very private. I don't want people to see the [expletive] pipes of my toilet. I don't want them to see how I'm making the sausage."