Taking Off the Spidey Mask: A Biography of Andrew Garfield

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The Marvel Web-slinger returns.
Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures
May 1st, 2014

Andrew Garfield is a talented actor who has risen to prominence in the film industry largely thanks to the reboot of the Spider-Man franchise, "The Amazing Spider-Man" and its sequel. The Los Angeles actor started his career at a young age, but it was not until 2010 with the release of "The Social Network" that Garfield truly hit Hollywood's radar.

Andrew Garfield was born on April 20, 1983, in the city of Los Angeles to British-born Lynn. His father Richard is from Los Angeles, and his paternal grandparents are from the United Kingdom. When Andrew was 3 years old, he and his parents moved to Epsom, Surrey where he was raised in a Jewish home. Both his mother and father ran an interior design business, but they later became an assistant nursery school teacher and swimming school coach, respectively. While growing up, Andrew occupied himself with swimming and gymnastics.

Andrew Garfield's acting career began when he was 12, appearing in a theatrical production of "Bugsy Malone." Although he intended to study business in his early years, he continued to take acting classes in Guildford. He concentrated on stage acting and won several awards for his performances, including the Manchester Evening News Theatre Award for Best Newcomer in 2004 and the Outstanding Newcomer Award from the Evening Standard Theatre Awards in 2006.

In 2005 and 2007, Garfield jump started his on-screen career with appearances in the British drama "Sugar Rush," the series "Boy A" and season three of "Doctor Who." His first major movie appearance came in 2007 with the role of Todd Hayes in the war thriller "Lions for Lambs." He continued his hot streak in a number of shorts and the 2010 film "Never Let Me Go." In the aforementioned film, Garfield plays Tommy and performs alongside notable co-stars Keira Knightley and Carey Mulligan.

"Never Let Me Go" was the film that really got Garfield's foot in the door of Hollywood, allowing him to express his talents through a complicated, emotional character. In the same year, the young actor starred opposite Jesse Eisenberg in the dramatic retelling of the creation of Facebook in "The Social Network." Director David Fincher at first considered Garfield for the role of Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, when he was referred to the actor by fellow filmmaker Mark Romanek. However, upon seeing Garfield's ability to infuse heartfelt emotion into his characters, the director decided to cast him as Eduardo Saverin instead. This proved a great challenge for the actor as little was known of the real-life Saverin. However, Garfield's portrayal of the betrayed co-founder of Facebook was spotless, earning him widespread critical acclaim, several BAFTA nominations and a Golden Globe nomination.

This performance made the charming young actor into a highly sought-after celebrity, leading to the role that would mark a major milestone in his career. In 2010, Andrew Garfield was cast as Peter Parker in Marc Webb's superhero film "The Amazing Spider-Man." He was cast opposite Emma Stone, who played his love interest Gwen Stacy. The reboot of the film franchise was to be released just five years after the last installment of the original "Spider-Man" films, so Garfield faced the enormous task of redefining a character still fresh in audiences' minds as the one introduced by Tobey Maguire.

Spider-Man had been an inspiration to Garfield as a child, and the actor even admitted to shedding tears when he first put on his costume as he envisioned a better actor taking his place. Still, he did everything he could to succeed in the challenging role, attempting to copy movements of spiders and nimble athletes and even taking yoga classes to become more flexible. The physical nature of the role was exhausting for Garfield, but the resulting film was well worth the effort.

"The Amazing Spider-Man," which retells the origin story of Spider-Man, was a critical and box office success. Garfield received largely positive reviews for his fresh, lively portrayal of Peter Parker. He reprised his role as Parker for "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" released in 2014 and is expected to play the character yet again for the third installment set to be released in 2016.

Andrew Garfield is an incredibly talented actor whose versatility and boyish charm make him a hot commodity among Hollywood filmmakers. Although "The Amazing Spider-Man" is the peak of his career thus far, there is no telling where this dedicated actor is headed next. Audiences would be wise to keep a sharp eye on this rising star, who is clearly much more than just the face of Spider-Man.