"How can I expect [audiences] to believe in anything I do when they know who I am?" asked Andrew Garfield in April, 2008. At the time, the young actor had just found himself up for the BAFTA Award (Britain's highest film and television honor) for starring as a young adult just released from a long prison stint for murder in the BBC 4 film "Boy A." And while his eventual win may have served as a prophetic note for bigger things to come, Garfield's reluctance to share too much about his personal life with reporters and viewers seems particularly appropriate this week.
Yesterday, Columbia Pictures announced that, at age 27, Garfield would take on the role of Peter Parker in director Mark Webb's high school-themed relaunch of its "Spider-Man" franchise, and the news was meet online with an almost instantaneous, "Who?!?!?"
Although, while the actor's face may not yet be an image plastered across billboards from coast-to-coast, the star will soon turn from acclaimed up-and-comer to blockbuster superhero. And in that 2008 interview with the UK's Guardian newspaper, Garfield gave a hint of the outlook which may have helped him earn the role full of both power and responsibility.
"I hope that I can still change people and that movies can still inspire people – I know they can because they inspire me all the time," he said, adding the particular Peter Parker-ish note: " It sounds cheesy, I know, but I feel like I have a really big guilt complex and that if I’m not doing any kind of good then there’s no real reason for being. I believe that doing movies like this is positive because they can inspire and be entertaining."
Born in Los Angeles, the actor has lived in London since the age of three where, amongst other activities, he was a champion gymnast at age 12. However, Garfield found his true passion for acting as a teenager, moving quickly from drama school to the London stage. In 2006, while appearing in a trilogy of plays at the National Theatre, Garfield was tapped by the director Stephen Daldry to audition for a movie (up to that point, he had played only in a variety of British TV series including play Frank in the two-part "Doctor Who" episode "The Daleks of Manhattan"), and that auditioning process let his reel fall into the hands of the legendary Robert Redford who cast the young actor in a key role in his 2007 political drama "Lions For Lambs."
Since then, Garfield has starred in a number of high profile gigs including "Boy A" and Terry Gilliam's "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" alongside Heath Ledger. Next up, he'll play opposite Keira Knightly in "Never Let Me Go" and portray Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin in David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin's "The Social Network."
From there on out, it's all web-slinging in New York City in a role that producer Avi Arad announced at yesterday's Cancun announcement of the "Spider-Man" casting, saying "to be Peter Parker is a huge responsibility. And it takes a lot of power, too. So, we found an amazing young man."
Check out the full video and photos from the announcement below and then sound off on what you know of Andrew Garfield on CBR's forums!