Andrew Garfield has played everyone from a Jesuit missionary (in Silence) to Spider-man (in, well, The Amazing Spider-Man), and but he's not about to slow down any time soon. This year, he starred alongside Claire Foy in the Andy Serkis-directed biopic Breathe about the heroic polio survivor Robin Cavendish, and next he'll play Prior Walter Angels in America's return to Broadway. "I'm a masochist," he joked. "I think as soon as I finish Angels in America I'm gonna just do really easy things for the rest of my life."
Although that seems unlikely, perhaps Garfield could find a second act as a professional tennis table player. It is, of course, his secret skill. Here, the actor takes W's screen test, and shares the outrageous story of his first kiss, his heart-warming New Year's Eve tradition, and the moment he knew he'd made it in Hollywood.
When was the moment you first felt like you’d made it in Hollywood?
When I was puking in Prince's toilet. I was out in L.A. for the first time, and I had auditioned for Robert Redford for the first film that I ended up doing called Lions for Lambs that he directed. I was staying on my manager's assistant's coach in West Hollywood, and he was like, "Hey, you need to get a suit for tonight. You're gonna be my plus-one to all these Golden Globe parties" and I was like, "I don't wanna do that, but okay." So went to the Beverly Center and I was in H&M, and I was trying on a suit, and I got a call from my agent at the time telling me that I had just got the part to play opposite Robert Redford.
I went out that night with a very, very different attitude than I had previously had, and I ended up at one of those silly parties, and I was in line with Salma Hayek and Penelope Cruz, just in front of them. So I went in and didn't know I was gonna vomit, but as soon as I got in there, I realized that I was gonna vomit. [Laughs] And I vomited. And I came out very sheepishly knowing that these two beautiful Latina women had to go to the bathroom where I had just tarnished the sacred space of Prince's bathroom.
I don't think we'll ever top your birthday story, so I'm going to ask you, what was your favorite New Year's Eve?
No. Definitely not gonna top the birthday story with a New Year's story. New Year's sucks. I only have very sentimental, very heartfelt New Year's stories. The silly New Year's stories are end up in me very out of my mind laying in a puddle in my friend's back garden. You know, it's always an anticlimax. I don't dig it. I do a ritual every New Year's where I go with my closest friends in England and we write down all the things that have happened in the last year or all the things that we wanna let go of, all the things that we need to clear out, and we write them all down, and we go up to the top of Primrose Hill, which is a beautiful place in London, and we burn the paper. And then all the things that we wanna let go of to allow in what we want for the next year, whether it's for us, for each other, or the world, or whatever. Beautiful ritual. It's an old like ancient indigenous ritual.
I love that ritual.
Yeah, there was one amazing New Year where I was in Hawaii with my mother and a very close person in my life and all of my other family had gone to sleep, and we stood on the coastline where the ocean meets the sand, and it was just us, the three of us, and it was the most intimate New Year's moment. It was very, very beautiful with two people that I love very much, and under the magic of Hawaii, as well. So I've had very nice, beautiful, calm New Year's, but any wild New Year's is not worth telling. It always ends up as kind of a shit story actually.
Where was your first kiss?
Okay, so I'd just gone to a new school and it was a coed school – my first term at coed school in the South of England. I was 12, 13, and, you know, hormones raging, and I had just been introduced to this new group of friends, and there was another new girl at school who said, "Oh, my parents are out of town. I'm gonna have a party" and it was literally--I can't explain, I don't know what happened--but it was bacchanalian at 13. Everyone was just like, "Oh, we get to all kiss each other" and it was about 150, 200 people, and I think that was the night of my first kiss, her name was Amy Frances.
But then three minutes later, I kissed another girl in my year--I'm not gonna say her name--but there was nothing special about it. It was like, "Let's get this out the way. Let's do this." And it was about five hours of everyone going, "Have we made out yet? No?" But it was all very above board, and amazing, and free. At a certain point my friend Simon was like, "Isn't that your mum?" and I looked to my left, and I think I was in the middle of something with a girl that I really liked, and I saw my mother and I just dropped her and was like, "Okay, let's go, let's go, let's go." It was like midnight. It was a magical night for a 13-year-old where anything was possible.
Did you talk to these girls afterwards or...
Oh yeah, we had the next six years in school together, so that was just the beginning of a long friendship. It was weirdly innocent and very sweet, but I think we all just went, "We can do this." It was like when you first get your license or something. You go "I can – this shouldn't be allowed that I'm driving a car, a death machine, on my own. This shouldn't be allowed that we can just like put our tongues against each other's tongues." It was one of the great nights. It was one of the great nights, and we still talk about it, me and my friends from 20 years ago, we'll be in a pub or we'll be at dinner and be like "Remember Dora's party?" Yeah.
What did you tell your mom on the way home?
Oh no, thankfully she was looking around the party. But as soon as I saw her, I pulled myself together, and apologized vigorously to the girl that I was with, and said, "Okay, let's go. Why did you come in the garden? Why did you come in the garden? Get in the car." [We were] not drunk either! Not drunk, just kissing. Oh, the best. It was like this collective awakening. It really was. It was like the end of perfume where everyone was just like "Oh, my God" and then mother arrives, and then it's ridiculous.
Who's your current cinematic crush?
I just saw Lady Bird. Saoirse [Ronan]...Laurie [Metcalf]'s amazing... and Greta [Gerwig], you know. I think what Greta has done is shockingly accomplished, and I have a little crush on her for that, as well as, of course, Lucas Hedges. He's my heart. He kills me, and you know, the whole cast. Everyone's just wonderful.
Do you have any secret skills?
I play table tennis. I'm rather good at table tennis. I used to play when I was a kid. I love the game. I love it so much. It's like the nerdiest game, but it's like so quick and it's why I like basketball as well, I think, 'cause it's so fast, but this is even quicker. It's all hand eye coordination. It's like a martial art, and I love it.
Do you play all the time?
No, I haven't played in a long time. I like playing with like old Russian guys at like a JCC somewhere. Actually, I'm not gonna tell people where the place is 'cause it's kind of a secret.
Watch: Andrew Garfield's Idea of Heaven Is Disneyland and Brownies