Andrew Garfield defends method acting, revealing he starved himself of food and sex for role

Andrew Garfield attends the premiere of Silence in 2017.
Andrew Garfield insisted you can be a method actor without being an a***hole. (Getty Images) (JB Lacroix via Getty Images)

Andrew Garfield has defended method acting, insisting it doesn't mean actors have to be an "a***hole" to those around them.

The 39-year-old Amazing Spider-Man star admitted to using the sometimes controversial technique to play a Jesuit priest in Martin Scosese's 2016 film Silence, revealing he starved himself of food and sex for six months.

Garfield told Marc Maron's WTF podcast: "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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"There [have] been a lot of misconceptions about what method acting is, I think. People are still acting in that way, and it’s not about being an a***hole to everyone on set.

British actor Andrew Garfield during a press conference for Silence in 2015.
Andrew Garfield starved himself of food and sex while playing a Jesuit priest in Silence. (AP) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

"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 Spider-Man: No Way Home actor revealed he was inspired to try method acting after doing a screen test in 2005 with Ryan Gosling, for a film adaptation of Michael Chabon's novel The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, which never got made.

Garfield said of Gosling: "He was alive, he didn’t care about doing it the same way over and over again. He was listening, he was very present, he was spontaneous, he was surprising, he wasn’t trying to be those things.

Watch: Andrew Garfield is stepping away from acting for a while to recharge

Ryan Gosling during an interview on the Jimmy Fallon Show in 2022.
Ryan Gosling inspired Andrew Garfield to try method acting. (Getty Images) (NBC via Getty Images)

"There was a zen quality to it, but it was like being in a scene with a wild animal where you don’t know whether he was going to kiss you or kill you. And you hook into that, and you’re like 'Oh, I want to follow whatever that is.' "

The Tick, Tick... Boom! star went on to study with Gosling's acting coach Greta Seacat, and award-nominated roles in films including The Social Network and Hackshaw Ridge have followed.

Garfield said: "I’m kind of bothered by the misconception, I’m kind of bothered by this idea that 'method acting is f***ing bulls**t.'

Andrew Garfield in crime series Under The Banner Of Heaven. (FX)
Andrew Garfield in crime series Under The Banner Of Heaven. (FX) (Michelle Faye)

"No, I don’t think you know what method acting is if you’re calling it bulls**t, or you just worked with someone who claims to be a method actor who isn’t actually acting the method at all."

He added: "It’s also very private. I don’t want people to see the f***ing pipes of my toilet. I don’t want them to see how I’m making the sausage."

Garfield recently announced he is taking a break from acting to “be a bit ordinary" for a while.

He told Variety: "I’m going to rest for a little bit. I need to recalibrate and reconsider what I want to do next and who I want to be and just be a bit of a person for a while. Because as you know, that is a washing machine, that awards season."

Andrew Garfield.
Andrew Garfield said he is taking a break from acting. (PA)

His recent roles include starring as composer Jonathan Larson in Tick, Tick… Boom!, reprising the role of Spider-Man in Spider-Man: No Way Home and appearing opposite Jessica Chastain in the biopic The Eyes Of Tammy Faye.

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He also starred in true crime drama TV television miniseries Under The Banner Of Heaven with Sam Worthington and Daisy Edgar-Jones.