Arts & Entertainment, Pop Rhetoric

The renaissance of Andrew Garfield

2022 is, without question, an excellent time to be Andrew Garfield. At 38 years old, the British-American actor is having a remarkable resurgence in his career: In the past 12 months alone, he’s starred as real-life televangelist Jim Bakker in The Eyes of Tammy Faye, reprised his role as Peter Parker in the Marvel/Sony blockbuster movie Spider-Man: No Way Home, and is garnering Oscar Buzz for his turn as Jonathan Larson in the film adaptation of the late Rent-creator’s semi-autobiographical musical tick…tick…boom!.

So what’s responsible for sending this fan-favourite actor back into Hollywood’s stratosphere? The answer is simple: A perfect combination of vulnerability, a wealth of critically acclaimed performances, and an unexpected boost from the TikTok algorithm.

Garfield’s breakout role came in 2010’s The Social Network, the fast-paced origin story of the world’s largest social media company. He played the ousted Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, an embittered but likeable counterpart to Jesse Eisenberg’s cerebral, arrogant Mark Zuckerberg. Though the story necessitates that he play second-fiddle to Eisenberg, Garfield’s acting steals the show, and his now-famous, “Sorry my Prada’s at the cleaners, along with my hoodie and my fuck-you flip flops” outburst remains one of the movie’s best-loved scenes 12 years on. 

While The Social Network earned Garfield critical acclaim, The Amazing Spider-Man made him a household name. Stepping into the iconic dual role of Peter Parker/Spider-Man meant filling some big shoes, especially considering that original Spider-Man, Tobey Maguire, had only hung up his Spidey suit five years earlier. Full of witty one-liners and palpable chemistry with co-star-turned-girlfriend Emma Stone, Garfield’s Peter Parker proved a more suave version than Maguire’s. Still, reactions to the first two instalments were lukewarm from fans and critics alike, and plans for The Amazing Spider-Man 3 were ultimately cancelled. Between fan loyalty to the original and the immense popularity of the latest reboot starring Tom Holland, Garfield was left as the mostly forgotten middle child of the live-action Spider-Man lineage. However, his reappearance as Peter Parker in No Way Home sparked renewed interest in both The Amazing Spider-Man franchise and Garfield’s acting career as a whole.

Recently, TikTok’s “For You Page” has become inundated with scenes from his time as Spider-Man, videos of people lip synching to his Eduardo Saverin outburst, and clips emulating the frenetic energy of his tick…tick..boom! musical numbers. As a result, both his recent work and his formerly overlooked career years populated with gems like his Oscar-nominated role in Hacksaw Ridge and Tony award-winning performance in the revival of Angels in America have received renewed widespread attention. On a platform that feeds on our increasingly short attention spans, the fact that these longer, Garfield-inspired clips garner so much attention speaks volumes about the actor’s engaging performances.

Garfield’s performances aren’t the only thing grabbing his ever-growing fanbase’s attention; his vulnerability is equal parts endearing and compelling. Compared to the banter and charming anecdote-filled talk-show interviews common of most Hollywood actors, Garfield is unflinchingly honest and unexpectedly sincere. In a recent interview on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, he opened up about how playing mortality-obsessed Jonathan Larson helped him reckon with the recent passing of his mother.

“I hope this grief stays with me,” he said, tearing up. “Because it’s all the unexpressed love I didn’t get to tell her.” 

This earnest admission has been viewed over 1.3 million times, demonstrating just how far his vulnerability goes.

After such a whirlwind of a year, some might question where Andrew Garfield’s career will go next. If this powerful mix of dedicated performances, loyal fanbase, and penchant for vulnerability keeps up, there’s nowhere to go but up. 

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