It ain’t easy being an actor in a big franchise. Sure, as audience members, we have a tendency to romanticize the glamor of it all. We see what comes out on screen, and there’s a certain magic to it that’s hard to shake. Unless you’ve had a chance to experience how the sausage actually gets made, it’s easy to assume that an actor’s career is mostly made up of those high points we see on film. We don’t see the hours of grueling work that goes behind the scenes, the copious amount of boredom that likely hits when waiting around on set, or the insecurity of never really knowing if your character (or the movie, for that matter) is going to work on screen.
It’s a difficult enough thing in a small movie, but when you’re just a smaller cog in a bigger machine (like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the DC Extended Universe, or the now-deceased Spidey-verse), you have a lot less control over how your work is seen. By all accounts, Andrew Garfield was a pretty solid Peter Parker and Spider-Man in the Amazing Spider-Man films, but so bogged down was the second flick about setting up its universe, that it collapsed in on itself. By no fault of Garfield, he found himself cast out of a role he really embraced. Up until this point, he’s expressed his disappointment about the whole thing, but has always remained supportive about the direction the character went in.
Speaking with actress Amy Adams on Variety’s Actors on Actors video series (via Screen Rant), Garfield really delved into his feelings in serving a character in a film that was ultimately unsuccessful.
“I was young — not as young as the young guy that playing it now — Tom Holland, who is a fantastic actor…There’s something about being that young in that kind of machinery which I think is really dangerous. I wasn’t a teenager, but I was still young enough to struggle with the value system, I suppose, of corporate America, really. It’s a corporate enterprise mostly…I found that really, really tricky.”
After Garfield was expressed the idea that he was working in service of what amounts to a corporate sort of icon, Adams discussed her struggles with a character like Lois. As great of an experience it was, it’s a bit difficult when you feel like your character is being marginalized in service of something else.
“That’s the tricky thing with Lois, that I find is, I love playing her, I love everyone I work with, but sometimes it’s tricky because I feel she’s in service of the story instead of the story serving the character. That sometimes can be tricky when you show up and you really wanna retain a character and you have to serve the story…in a perfect universe they all work together. I always want to service the story, but I want to feel supported in the character as well… I can see how what I said sounds wrong (laughs).”
Adams definitely has a point, and fans can easily point to Batman v Superman, a film that (at least in the theatrical cut) seemed to struggle to get her things to do. In that original cut, a lot of her story seemed more motivated by plot then character. As such, it's easy to see why she'd feel a bit frustrated by the whole thing.
On the whole, Garfield seemed to be a bit more accepting about that idea than Adams, despite how it all turned out with his run of The Amazing Spider-Man. In a perfect world, they both go hand-in-hand, but sometimes that isn’t always the case.
“There is something that happened with that experience for me, where story and character were not actually at the top of the priority list, ultimately, and I found that really, really tricky. I signed up to serve the story, and to serve this incredible character that I’ve been dressing as since I was three, and then it gets compromised and it breaks my heart. I got heartbroken a little bit to a certain degree.”
Like anything in filmmaking or in a collaborative art, acting is often a series of compromises. Everyone comes into the work with a specific idea of what they want or what they want to contribute, yet when all said and done, they are there to service something greater than their own self-interest — at least most of the time.
What do you think of Garfield and Adams’ comments? Let us know your thoughts down below!