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Andrew Garfield is on the verge of going stratospheric. From theatre work and TV appearances to acclaimed performances in 'Never Let Me Go' and 'The Social Network', the 28-year-old, LA-born, British-raised actor has tended to shun the limelight. He's a serious, self-effacing young man more interested in art than adulation. But with the release of 'The Amazing Spider-Man', in which he plays the titular teen turned- spandexed superhero, Garfield's anonymity will be comprehensively and irrevocably shattered. We find out how the lifelong Spider-Man fan feels about filling Tobey Maguire's shoes.
Time Out: At Comic-Con in 2011, you talked about how Spider-Man saved your life. Are you nervous about how other superfans will receive the film?
Andrew Garfield: Yeah, of course! Because the egoist in me wants everyone to like it. I can tell you, we worked incredibly hard to adhere to what Stan Lee originally wrote, and to carry on his 50-year-old legacy. But if someone comes up to me in the street and says, "I preferred Tobey [Maguire]" or whatever, I can live with that. Because I love Tobey! He'll always be my Spider-Man.
TO: How did the reality of playing Spider-Man compare with the dream?
Andrew Garfield: The reality is not as great as the fantasy of it. The fantasy, of course, is a fantasy, so everything in your imagination is perfect and beautiful. And then when you get the suit on-it's spandex, and spandex isn't that fun. It's itchy, and it's difficult to go to the bathroom, and you get a bit claustrophobic. There was one day when I was in water in the suit, and I waterboarded myself accidentally, which sucked.
TO: Why do you think the character resonates with so many people?
Andrew Garfield: [When he wears the Spider-Man suit] no skin can be seen, which means that kids of every culture can imagine themselves in the suit. Also, he's the most human superhero, in my opinion. And his humour-it's kind of that teenage sense of humour.
TO: A sequel has already been announced. Were you apprehensive about becoming part of this massive franchise?
Andrew Garfield: I had a moment of pacing back and forth and thinking: Do I want my life to change in this way? Do I want this kind of pressure? But ultimately I've never seen Spider-Man as that; I've always seen Spider-Man as part of my heart. It feels cheesy to say, but I really mean it.
TO: Tobey Maguire has said that his life shifted the opening weekend of the first Spider-Man movie. Are you prepared for that?
Andrew Garfield: I'm realizing more and more that no matter how you prepare, life still happens. I'm just trying to keep my eyes open and enjoy this silly ride. And I intend to leave the country. That's how I'm preparing. I intend to get out.
TO: Have you gotten any good advice on how to deal with fame?
Andrew Garfield: Robert Redford wrote me something recently that will always stick with me. It's about never thinking you're any good and how to hold on to that. Because as long as you do, you're never going to get too big for your boots, and you'll keep working hard and striving to be better.
TO: It's a true friend who tells you to remember that you can be crap.
Andrew Garfield: Yes, exactly. I can be as rubbish as I want.