Up to this point, Andrew Garfield’s career can be divided into three sections: supporting actor, Spider-Man, and lead actor, with Boy A catapulting him into these sections. This week, I’m taking a look at his supporting roles in Lions for Lambs, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Never Let Me Go, and The Social Network, with today being devoted to the first two. Each one of these roles is very different from the others, but they all inform of the kind of roles and ideas that Garfield is interested in taking on.
Three out of the four roles are either very serious or are a character who thinks very deeply and is intellectually curious.
Lions for Lambs (2007)
This film was released the same year as Boy A, but it was a very different role for Garfield. Instead of playing a kid just released from prison, he is a college student who is questioning a lot of ideas about war and the American political system. In a movie that features Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, and Tom Cruise, Garfield possible gives the best performance.
For almost all of his screen time, he is sitting opposite Redford, who plays his college professor. Redford is trying to convince him that he is the sort of student that has the talent and brains to do something important with his life and for the country. Garfield’s character is informed, but feels hopeless. He’s a millennial who is cynical about the established order and knows how to speak quickly and knowledgably about what he doesn’t like, but he doesn’t have any motivation to do anything about it.
Garfield is able to bring this character to life convincingly. As I mentioned, most of his performance is just him sitting in a chair opposite Redford. But it comes across as if he’s totally buying into all of these ideas that his character is spewing. This movie probably would be more well-known and liked if it wasn’t so obviously a political statement, but it’s indicative of the roles that Garfield is seemingly drawn through. His ideas and the other ideas presented in the film are intended to make not only the viewer, but the actors think.
It definitely shows something that Garfield was able to secure a role with such high-profile actors so early on in his career. It shows how important Boy A was in bringing him into national attention.
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009)
This is an interesting movie that definitely would not be attractive to everyone watching. There are a lot of facets to it and many that don’t land. But as the title implies, it is very imaginative and shows many cool visuals. It is also Heath Ledger’s final role – one that he wasn’t able to complete the filming of. So that probably contributes to the movie not feeling whole overall.
But for Andrew Garfield, this film is indicative of another kind of role that he takes on: relational roles. He plays an actor on a travelling play who is in love with a girl named Valentina (Lily Cole). The overall plot is fairly complicated, so I will leave my discussion to his part.
Garfield plays this character who is young, and maybe in over his head. But he still thinks that he understands things about the world that he probably doesn’t. He shows good comedic timing for the first time, which he doesn’t use very often, apart from in the Spider-Man movies. He is a jokester and likes to mess with people and have fun, but he’s extremely loyal to his “family.” This is perhaps a role that is most like himself in real life. As a person, he is very goofy and lovable, which is very much what he is in this movie.
In a movie that is kind of all over the place, I think it was really good for Garfield to be among such great actors. But again, he almost showed them up with his performance. And it leads right into two movies of his that really catapult him into what he has become today.