Andrew Russell Garfield is a British-American actor. An alumnus of the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, he is the recipient of various accolades, including a Tony Award, a British Academy Television Award, and a Golden Globe Award.
Born in Los Angeles and raised in Epsom, England, Garfield began his career on the UK stage and in television productions. He made his feature-film debut in the 2007 ensemble drama Lions for Lambs. Also that year, his performance in the television film Boy A earned him a BAFTA for Best Actor. He came to international attention in 2010 with supporting roles in the drama The Social Network, for which he received BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations portraying Eduardo Saverin, and the science-fiction romance Never Let Me Go. Garfield subsequently gained wider recognition for playing Spider-Man in the superhero film The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) and its 2014 sequel. In 2016, Garfield starred in the historical dramas Mel Gibson's war film Hacksaw Ridge and Martin Scorsese's religious epic Silence. His portrayal of Desmond T. Doss in the former earned him nominations for an Academy Award, BAFTA Award, Screen Actors Guild Award, and Golden Globe Award, all for Best Actor. In 2021, he portrayed Jonathan Larson in the musical Tick, Tick... Boom! and reprised his role as Spider-Man in Spider-Man: No Way Home.
On stage, Garfield has played Biff in a 2012 Broadway revival of Arthur Miller's play Death of a Salesman starring alongside Philip Seymour Hoffman and directed by Mike Nichols. For his performance he earned his first nomination for a 2012 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Featured Role in a Play. In 2017, Garfield starred as Prior Walter in a production of Angels in America at the Royal National Theatre in London, a role for which he was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Play. In 2018, he reprised the role on Broadway at the Neil Simon Theatre, for which he received a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Play in the same year.
Early life and education
Andrew Russell Garfield was born on 20 August 1983, in Los Angeles, California. His mother, Lynn (née Hillman), was from Essex, England, and his father, Richard Garfield, is from California. Garfield's paternal grandparents were also from the United Kingdom. Garfield's parents moved the family from Los Angeles to the UK when he was three years old, and he was brought up in Epsom, Surrey. Garfield had a secular upbringing. He is Jewish on his father's side, and describes himself as a "Jewish artist." His paternal grandparents were from Jewish immigrant families who moved to London from Poland, Russia and Romania, and the family surname was originally "Garfinkel."
Garfield's parents ran a small interior-design business. His mother was also a teaching assistant at a nursery school, and his father became head coach of the Guildford City Swimming Club. He has an older brother who is a doctor. Garfield was a gymnast and a swimmer during his early years. He had originally intended to study business but became interested in acting at the age of 16 when a friend convinced him to take theatre studies at A-level, as they were one pupil short of being able to run the class. Garfield attended Priory Preparatory School in Banstead and later City of London Freemen's School in Ashtead, before training at the Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London. His first job was at Starbucks, being moved between three separate establishments in Golders Green and Hendon.
2004–2011: Early work and breakthrough
Garfield began taking acting classes in Guildford, Surrey, when he was 9, and appeared in a youth theatre production of Bugsy Malone. He also joined a small youth theatre workshop group in Epsom and took theatre studies at A-level before studying for a further 3 years at a UK conservatoire, the Central School of Speech and Drama. Upon graduating in 2004, he began working primarily in stage acting. In 2004, he won a Manchester Evening News Theatre Award for Best Newcomer for his performance in Kes at Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre (where he also played Romeo the year after), and won the Outstanding Newcomer Award at the 2006 Evening Standard Theatre Awards. Garfield made his British television debut in 2005 appearing in the Channel 4 teen drama Sugar Rush. In 2007, he garnered public attention when he appeared in the series 3 of the BBC's Doctor Who, in the episodes "Daleks in Manhattan" and "Evolution of the Daleks". Garfield commented that it was "an honour" to be a part of Doctor Who. In October 2007, he was named one of Variety's "10 Actors to Watch". He made his American film debut in November 2007, playing an American university student in the ensemble drama Lions for Lambs, with co-stars Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep, and Robert Redford. "I'm just lucky to be there working on the same project as them, although I don't really expect to be recognized later by audiences," Garfield told Variety in 2007. In his review for The Boston Globe, Wesley Morris considered Garfield's work "a willing punching bag for the movie's jabs and low blows".
In the Channel 4 drama Boy A, released in November 2007, he portrayed a notorious killer trying to find new life after prison. The role garnered him the 2008 BAFTA Award for Best Actor. Amy Biancolli of the Houston Chronicle wrote, "there is no doubt about the intelligence and sensitivity" of Garfield's portrayal. Minneapolis Star Tribune's Christy DeSmith echoed Biancolli's sentiment, citing his "detailed expressions" as an example. Writing in The Seattle Times, John Hartl noted that Garfield demonstrated range in the role, and concluded: "Garfield always manages to capture his passion". Joe Morgenstern, the critic for The Wall Street Journal, dubbed Garfield's performance "phenomenal", assessing that he "makes room for the many and various pieces of Jack's personality". In 2008, he had a minor role in the film The Other Boleyn Girl, and was named one of the Shooting Stars at the Berlin International Film Festival. In 2009, Garfield held supporting roles in the Terry Gilliam film The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus and the Red Riding television trilogy. Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times thought that Garfield gave a stand out performance in the latter.
In 2010, Garfield co-starred opposite Carey Mulligan and Keira Knightley in Mark Romanek's dystopian science-fiction drama Never Let Me Go, an adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro's 2005 novel of the same name. He said of his character, Tommy D., "There's a sense of anxiety that runs through these kids, especially Tommy, because he's so sensory and feeling and animalistic, that's my perspective of him." Garfield was attracted to the film based on the existential questions the story expresses. He said the experience of being a part of Never Let Me Go was "just a dream to come true". He further remarked that the scenes in which his character—unable to contain his frustration—erupts with a wail, were "intense" for him. "I think those screams are inside all of us, I just got a chance to let mine out". For his portrayal of a well-meaning, but dim young man caught in a love triangle, he won the 2010 Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor. Writing for Entertainment Weekly, Owen Gleiberman praised the performances of the lead cast, reflecting that "these three all act with a spooky, haunted innocence that gets under your skin." In comparison to Mulligan and Knightley, Scott Bowles, writing for USA Today, deemed Garfield "the real find" of Never Let Me Go.
The same year, Garfield co-starred opposite Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network, a drama based on the founders of Facebook. On his character, Garfield remarked, "No one knows who Eduardo Saverin is, and I don't either. Of course, the fact he's a real-life human being, breathing on this Earth somewhere, creates a whole new dimension to my approach because you feel a greater sense of responsibility". Initially, the film's director, David Fincher, had met Garfield under the auspices of him playing Mark Zuckerberg, having been referred to him by Mark Romanek. However, Fincher did not like Garfield for the part as he found Garfield's "incredible emotional access to his kind of core humanity" better tailored for the role of Saverin. Garfield's performance was very well received; he earned wider recognition and numerous nominations, including BAFTA nominations for Best Actor in a Supporting Role and Rising Star, as well as a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance in a Supporting Role. Mark Kermode of the BBC expressed his surprise that Garfield had been overlooked for an Academy Award nomination, opining that "everyone knows he's one of the very best things about The Social Network." Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Joe Morgenstern thought the role was portrayed with "great subtlety and rueful charm". Rolling Stone said Garfield delivered "a vulnerability that raises the emotional stakes in a movie", and proclaimed: "Keep your eyes on Garfield — he's shatteringly good, the soul of a film that might otherwise be without one."
2012–2016: Worldwide recognition
Garfield was cast as Spider-Man/Peter Parker, opposite Emma Stone as his love interest Gwen Stacy, in Marc Webb's The Amazing Spider-Man (2012), a reboot of the Spider-Man film series. Garfield saw his casting as a "massive challenge in many ways", having to make the character "authentic" and "live and breathe in a new way". He described Peter as someone he could relate to and stated that the character had been an important influence on him since he was a child. For the role, he studied movements of athletes and spiders, and tried to incorporate them, and practiced yoga and pilates. The Amazing Spider-Man earned a worldwide total of $752,216,557, and Garfield's performance was generally well received. The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw labelled his portrayal as the "definitive Spider-Man" and Tom Charity of CNN commended his "combination of fresh-faced innocence, nervous agitation and wry humor".
In March 2012, Garfield made his Broadway theatre debut as Biff Loman in the revival of Death of a Salesman. According to The New York Times's David Rooney, Garfield had successfully "exposed the raw ache of Biff's solitude". Garfield was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play for his performance. Two years later, Garfield hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live and appeared in a music video for the song "We Exist" by Arcade Fire, playing a trans woman. Also in 2014, he co-produced and starred in the 2014 independent drama 99 Homes and reprised the titular role in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Following a deal between Sony and Marvel Studios to integrate the Spider-Man character into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, sequels to the latter film were scrapped, and the role was later taken on by Tom Holland in a reboot. Arachnologists Yuri M. Marusik and Alireza Zamani honored Garfield's portrayal of the role by naming a new species of crevice weaver spider, Pritha garfieldi, after him.
Following a year-long absence from the screen, Garfield had starring roles in two films of 2016, Martin Scorsese's drama Silence and Mel Gibson's war film Hacksaw Ridge. In the former, based on Shūsaku Endō's 1966 novel of the same name, Garfield played Sebastião Rodrigues, a Portuguese Jesuit priest in the 17th century who travels to Japan to spread his faith. Garfield spent a year with James Martin studying to be a Jesuit priest and went on a silent retreat in Wales. The film's arduous principal photography took place in Taiwan and to achieve his character's physicality, Garfield lost 40 lb. Kate Taylor of The Globe and Mail disliked the film and wrote that Garfield "is sweetly resolute and gently anguished as the missionary Rodrigues but any hope that the actor might elucidate the psychology of philosophical certitude or the pain of religious doubt proves vain". At the box office, it earned less than half of its $50 million budget. Hacksaw Ridge, however, was a commercial success, earning over $175.3 million worldwide. In it, Garfield portrayed Desmond Doss, a combat medic during World War II, who was the first conscientious objector in American history to be awarded the Medal of Honor. Writing for USA Today, Brian Truitt labelled the film as "brutally intense and elegantly crafted"; he thought that the central role allowed Garfield to bring depth to his career and praised him for portraying Doss with both "simple sweetness" and "steadfast mettle". He received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor for Hacksaw Ridge.
2017–present: Established actor and further acclaim
Garfield played the role of Prior Walter in Tony Kushner's two-part play Angels in America at the National Theatre, London in the Lyttelton Theatre from April to August 2017, and the performance was broadcast live to cinemas around the world in summer 2017 through the National Theatre Live series. It was directed by Marianne Elliott and co-starred Nathan Lane, James McArdle, Russell Tovey, and Denise Gough. Paul T Davis of The British Theatre Guide wrote that Garfield was "transformative and unrecognisable in places, completely inhabiting camp, laconic, frightened and totally loveable Prior Walter". He was nominated for an Olivier Award for Best Actor.
Garfield's sole film release of 2017 was the biopic Breathe, in which he portrayed Robin Cavendish, a young man paralysed by polio. In preparation, he interacted with victims of the disease and collaborated closely with Cavendish's wife and son. Stephen Dalton of The Hollywood Reporter wrote that despite an exceptional story, the film had glossed over the complexities in Cavendish's life, and thought that Garfield was "hampered by a role that restricts him to little more than nodding and grinning". In March 2018, Garfield reprised the role of Prior when the Angels in America production transferred to Broadway for an 18-week limited engagement at the Neil Simon Theatre, alongside a majority of the London cast. Reviewing the production for The Washington Post, Peter Marks commented, "nothing [Garfield's] done prepares you for the star-powered dexterity of his Prior" and considered his performance to be the "persuasive moral core of the piece." He won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for his performance.
The 2018 Cannes Film Festival marked the premiere of Garfield's next film, the David Robert Mitchell-directed neo-noir Under the Silver Lake. In it, he played Sam, an unemployed and wayward young man who sets out on a journey to find his neighbour who has mysteriously disappeared. Writing for Vanity Fair, Richard Lawson found Garfield to be "great in the role, doing nimble, subtle bits of physical comedy and teasing out the creepy, menacing side of Sam". Garfield starred in Gia Coppola's drama Mainstream, alongside Maya Hawke and Jason Schwartzman, which had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on September 5, 2020. In 2021, Garfield starred in The Eyes of Tammy Faye opposite Jessica Chastain, a drama about the televangelists Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker. The film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2021. That same year Garfield portrayed composer Jonathan Larson in Lin-Manuel Miranda's film adaptation of Tick, Tick... Boom!. Miranda had first seen Garfield performing on stage in Angels in America. Garfield, who had not professionally sung before, underwent vocal training in preparation for the role. The film had its world premiere at AFI Fest on November 10, 2021 as the festival's opening night film. Despite issuing repeated public denials to contrary, Garfield reprised his role as Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe film Spider-Man: No Way Home, starring alongside his Spider-Man successor Tom Holland and predecessor Tobey Maguire. He received critical and public acclaim for his performance. Garfield described his experience working on the film as "joyful", and said that it gave him "closure" with his version of the Spider-Man character. He also said that he would be open to reprising the role in future if asked to do so.
Garfield will next star in Dustin Lance Black's miniseries Under the Banner of Heaven, an adaptation of Jon Krakauer's book of the same name. As of 2019, he has also been attached to portray pianist James Rhodes in James Marsh's biopic Instrumental. In November 2020, it was announced that Garfield was attached to star as Charles Ryder in a remake of the 1981 miniseries Brideshead Revisited, an adaptation of the 1945 novel of the same name, with Luca Guadagnino set to direct.