If you ask Andrew Garfield, he’ll tell you that art saved his life. That’s what he told us, at least, when we talked to him about his new role as Jonathan Larson in the Netflix movie Tick, Tick... Boom!
You can check out that interview with Garfield in the video above, or read the transcript below.
The A.V. Club: Jonathan Larson had an infectious, boundless enthusiasm about all art and culture. How do you relate to that?
Andrew Garfield: There’s a great line in the film, where he’s having an argument with his best friend and his friend says, “Oh yeah, because that’s what the world needs: more art.” And Jon responds with, “Yeah, it does, actually. Art will probably be the healing component that culture needs. The artists, the poets, the sensitive tender ones that have their hearts broken open over and over and over again and can reflect back to us what it is to be a person and how how we can live according to the goodness of humanity and the truth of what it is to be a human being.”
I do feel that way. I feel very, very strongly about that. Art saved my life, and I think it saves a lot of people’s lives. I think one of its purposes is to remind us of our connection to each other, to ourselves, to the Earth itself and to life. And to try to make meaning out of being here, which is something that we all desperately need in a culture.
A lot of time is spent trying to render life meaningless so that we will just fill it with things that don’t mean anything, whether it’s commercialism, materialism, anything like that. That’s one of the things that Jon was railing against in his work and his life. He saw his friends dropping like flies from having given up their own dreams to become insurance salespeople or advertisers or whatnot.
And then obviously he was deeply reflective on the shortness of life that was around him with a generation lost to the AIDS epidemic and all of these things affecting him and radicalizing him and waking him up to the sacredness of life and how do we get to the place where we are living according to our truest natures.
AVC: Jonathan Larson’s sister is one of the producers on the movie, and I know that there are pieces of art that were in Jonathan’s apartment that are in his apartment in the movie. Did you get to talk to any of the people that knew him personally, either before or after shooting?
AG: Yeah, a lot of people. Obviously, his sister, Julie, who was just this incredible support and resource and guiding light for us. Then lots of his friends and ex-lovers and collaborators and family members.
We got to see private family albums and home videos and all the rest of it, so there was just a plethora of resources to immerse myself in so that I could just get on set and let Jonathan kind of channel through me. I just wanted him to follow his impulses and for me to follow, for me to be the body and the face and the voice that was containing his multitudes.
Tick, Tick... Boom! is in select theaters now and will be released on Netflix next Friday, November 19. You can read our review of the movie right here. If you want to hear more about the film, you can check out our interview with its director, Lin-Manuel Miranda.