Still of Garfield from The Amazing Spider-Man.

‘The Andrew Garfield Renaissance’ Is Here at Last

Many people have a newfound appreciation and adoration for the talents of the British-American actor thanks to his excellent 2021 performances.
January 3, 2022
9 mins read

2021 has really been Andrew Garfield’s year. He’s received Oscar buzz for not one but two roles: his transformative part in “In the Eyes of Tammy Faye” as real-life televangelist Jim Bakker, and his emotional performance in “Tick, Tick… Boom!,” which showcases his own musical talents as the late Jonathan Larson. He even appeared in the highest-grossing movie of the year and second-highest of all time: “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” Much to the delight of fans across the globe, Garfield reprised his role as Peter Parker despite adamantly denying it in nearly every interview he’s been in recently. And, of course, his iconic monologue from “The Social Network” is trending again, as it seems to every few months, and everyone remains eager to praise it. While there are hundreds of readings online, “Sorry, my Prada’s at the cleaners…” sounds best coming from Garfield himself, since his delivery is just too unforgettable.

“The Andrew Garfield Renaissance”

No matter what corner of the internet you find yourself in, there’s no doubt that you’ve encountered plenty of posts about Garfield in the last month. Some have even gone so far as to say that we’re in the midst of “The Andrew Garfield Renaissance,” with audiences adoring the actor so much in his newer films that they have gone on to re-watch his older ones. Many fans who were charmed by his rendition of “30/90” in “Tick, Tick… Boom!” have rented the play “Angels in America” to see him perform. Others who were simply too young or too attached to the previous web-crawler adaptations have grown to appreciate Garfield’s sharp-witted, skater-boy take on Peter Parker in “The Amazing Spider-Man” films after adoring his performance in “No Way Home.” And a number of people have just enjoyed learning more about the actor as they binge-watch YouTube interviews he’s done over the last few months to promote his films.

However, while the internet is non-stop fawning over Garfield (and honestly, who can blame them?) and his recent work, he’s by no means new to the scene. His filmography spans over 34 films and television shows. He’s worked with Martin Scorsese and David Fincher. He’s been nominated for an Oscar for “Hacksaw Ridge” and he won a Tony for “Angels in America.” There’s no doubt that Garfield is a skilled actor and while some are only now taking notice, many others have always been aware of his captivating presence on stage and onscreen.

“Tick, Tick… Boom!”

Lin-Manuel Miranda, the director of “Tick, Tick… Boom!,” instantly had Garfield in mind for the role of Jonathan Larson, having seen him in “Angels in America.” “What impressed me was that he brought everything to the role,” Miranda said in an interview with CBS Sunday Morning. “He brought his joy and he brought his range and I didn’t know if he could sing but I just felt like he could do anything.”

Garfield also had the chance to sit down with CBS Sunday Morning, detailing how he chooses his roles: “For whatever reason, I feel compelled to go to places that I haven’t been to before, as a person, as an actor.”

It’s this dedication and exploration that makes Garfield such a magnetic actor. Whether it’s learning to sing, play the piano or diving deep into the psyche of a disgraced televangelist, he’s up for any challenge. His passion is evident in each of his films, especially in “Tick, Tick… Boom!” Garfield dedicated his performance to his late mother, who passed away in 2019 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

“I can feel her smiling at that. She was someone who was taken arguably too soon, even though we don’t get to decide. There are certain things you can’t control. What I started to understand through her loss is that we’re all leaving with a half-finished song,” he told Variety. “Being a part of this film with Lin and the rest of the company, I’m able to sing Jon’s songs and I’m able to hold my mother’s unfinished song in the lyrics and the music that Jon wrote. His work has become a container for that.”

Many people have found Garfield’s honesty about grief to be moving; they find his use of art as a medium to express complicated feelings relatable. Garfield’s emotional vulnerability in “Tick, Tick… Boom!” has only deepened viewers’ appreciation for Miranda’s film, Larson’s life and Garfield as both an artist and a human.

“Spider-Man: No Way Home”

Minor spoilers ahead.

Lastly, it appears that his recent appearance in “Spider-Man: No Way Home” was cathartic for fans and Garfield’s character; many audiences warmed up to his version of Peter Parker despite the fact that a number of people were highly critical of the character when “The Amazing Spider-Man” films were initially released.

The new film gives Garfield’s Peter a moment of redemption when he saves MJ (played by Zendaya) as she falls off the Statue of Liberty. This critical moment harks back to another scene from the second “Amazing Spider-Man” film when Peter is unable to save his love interest Gwen Stacy — who is played by Garfield’s real-life girlfriend at the time, Emma Stone — as she falls to her death. The moment, while brief, brings closure to both the series and the character himself, who appears tearful upon landing — a moment that really hits home since Garfield’s character told Tom Holland’s Spider-Man that he’d lost “his MJ.”

Garfield’s role in “No Way Home” also appears to be special to the star himself, having never come back for a third “Amazing Spider-Man” film. “I think this film was his way of making peace with Spider-Man. It was such a privilege to work with him. I know that it meant a lot to him,” said Holland, the most recent actor to take on the role of the famous web-slinger, in an interview with Marvel.

After revisiting his first two appearances as Spider-Man and being beyond impressed by his “No Way Home” reappearance, fans have been calling for a third “Amazing Spider-Man” film. While it’s unlikely to happen, it’s nice to see Garfield getting the recognition he deserves after receiving numerous years of unfair backlash for his portrayal of Spider-Man. It’s even better to see “The Andrew Garfield Renaissance” take off partly because of it, knowing that his work will be enjoyed for years to come.

Mai Senser, Virginia Commonwealth University

Writer Profile

Mai Senser

Virginia Commonwealth University
English major, Media Studies minor

Mai Senser is a film student turned English major based in Richmond, Virginia. A lover of pop culture, both past and present, she’s always ready to join the conversation.

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