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Andrew Garfield Says He Went Full Method as a Priest Before ‘Silence’

Method acting has taken a lot of criticism over the last few years. High caliber performers like Brian CoxDavid Harbour and Mads Mikkelsen have all denounced the practice, and Robert Pattinson famously eschewed it in a conversation with Jennifer Lopez. “I always say about people doing Method acting, you only ever see people doing Method when they’re playing an a******,” he said once. “You never see someone just being lovely to everyone going, ‘I’m really deep in character.'” But now, Method acting has a new defender in Andrew Garfield, who says he used “the Method” to prepare for his role as a Catholic priest.

In conversation with Marc Maron, Garfield opened up about using Method for his performance as 17th century Jesuit priest Father Rodrigues in Martin Scorsese’s Silence. Garfield says he spent a year getting into character, studying Catholicism under Jesuit writer Father James Martin, fasting from food and abstaining from sex.

“It was very cool, man,” Garfield told Maron (Per Variety). “I had some pretty wild, trippy experiences from starving myself of sex and food at that time.”

Method acting is a complex range of training some actors undertake that involves linking the character they’re playing to their own personal experiences. At its worst, there are stories of actors who became insufferable or even toxic on set, with the excuse that they were just “getting into character.” But as Garfield notes, the Method certainly doesn’t have to be that way.

“There [have] been a lot of misconceptions about what method acting is, I think,” Garfield told Maron. “People are still acting in that way, and it’s not about being an a****** 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.”

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Garfield described an early screen test opposite Ryan Gosling for a sadly abandoned The Adventures of Cavalier in Clay adaptation in which he was profoundly impacted by Gosling’s utilization of the Method. He was so impressed, he studied under Gosling’s acting coach, the renowned Greta Seacat.

And the experience was good enough that he deployed it for his work on Silence, long one of Scorsese’s passion projects. “I connected with [Father Sebastian Rodrigues] so much because he seems to be always on the knife edge between faith and doubt,” Garfield told RELEVANT at the time. “He seems to understand that the opposite of doubt isn’t certainty, that living with doubt is just as much a part of living with faith as faith itself.”

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