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Andrew Garfield revealed that his mother died of pancreatic cancer ahead of the pandemic and filming his role as Jonathan Larson the Lin-Manuel Miranda-directed cinematic adaptation of Tick, Tick… Boom!
In an interview with The New York Times published Thursday, the actor shared that while “every frame, every moment, every breath” of the upcoming movie musical is an attempt at honoring Larson, the American composer and playwright who created Rent and died at 35, that even more personally, it’s a tribute to his mother.
“She is someone who showed me where I was supposed to go in my life. She set me on a path,” said Garfield. “We lost her just before COVID, just before we started shooting, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. So, for me, I was able to continue her song on the ocean and the wave of Jonathan’s songs. It was an attempt to honor him in his unfinished song, and her in her unfinished song, and have them meet.”
The Social Network and Amazing Spider-Man star surmised that his personal connection to loss during filming may also be why he “didn’t want this movie to end,” adding that it was an opportunity to “put my grief into art, into this creative act.”
During the interview, Garfield detailed his time with his mother as she passed, sharing that he felt lucky to get to read her her favorite poems and take care of her, along with his father and brother, in those final days. He also expressed that while he has lost others close to him before, his mother’s death had an infinitely greater impact on him.
“One’s mother is a different thing. It’s the person that gives you life no longer being here. Nothing can prepare you for that kind of cataclysm,” he said. “For me, everything has changed: Where there was once a stream, there’s now a mountain; where there was once a volcano, there’s now a field. It’s a strange head trip.”
The actor told the Times that while his mother may now be gone, her essence still lives with him “in a way that maybe is even stronger.” But that was a feeling for him that could only come after the acceptance of his loss, which is something he says “our culture” doesn’t give people the tools or framework to do.
“We’re told to be in delusion and denial of this universally binding thing that we’re all going to go through at some point, and it’s fascinating to me that this grand adventure of death is not honored,” he said.
While Garfield expressed hesitancy in the interview about sharing details around his mother’s passing, he said he ultimately chose to do it because losing one’s parents is a universal experience.
“The privilege of my life has been being there for my mother, being the person that gave her permission when she was ready. We had a very amazing connection, and now an audience will know her spirit in an unconscious way through Jon, which I just find so magical and beautiful.”
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