Andrew Garfield has revealed he became celibate and fasted for several months to prepare for his role as a Jesuit priest in the 2016 film “Silence”.
The British actor appeared on the entertainment podcast “WTF with Marc Maron” on Monday to promote the true-crime series “Under the Banner of Heaven”, in which he plays a detective whose faith is shaken when he is called in to investigate a brutal murder in his local Mormon community.
In addition to talking about the new limited series, his early acting career and the death of his mother, Garfield talked about working with Martin Scorsese for “Silence”, a film about two young Portuguese priests (Garfield and Adam Driver) who undertake a treacherous mission to Japan in the 17th century
The 39-year-old also spoke about method acting and said there were “misconceptions” surrounding the technique.
The Spider-Man star said he studied Catholicism with a Jesuit priest, went on a 31-day spiritual retreat and gave up “sex and food” before filming the movie.
“You end up in a pretty deep space,” Garfield said. “It’s a process of transformation.”
“I was celibate for six months… and I fasted a lot,” he added. “I had some pretty wild and mind-blowing experiences depriving myself of sex and food during that period of time.”
Garfield said he was inspired by method acting while researching the role, adding that he was “concerned about the misconception” around the technique.
“It’s not about being an asshole to everyone on set. It’s really just about living truthfully in imagined circumstances, and being really nice to the crew at the same time, and being a normal human being, and being able to leave it when you need to and stay in it when you want to stay in it.”
Method acting is a technique founded by Russian theatre director Konstantin Stanislavski in the 1900s and developed by legendary acting coach Lee Strasberg, according to the Lee Strasberg Film and Theatre Institute.
It encourages actors to use their “physical, mental and emotional self” to create a character while drawing on their own life experiences for the role, the institute adds.
Actors such as Marlon Brando, Daniel Day-Lewis and Robert De Niro have been known to use the immersion technique, which can see stars stay in character during a project.
Last year, Lady Gaga told British Vogue that the acting method helped her play socialite Patrizia Reggiani in the fashion biopic “House of Gucci”, for which she earned a Golden Globe nomination.
However, other actors have expressed reservations about method acting in the past, with Meryl Streep saying she “was very depressed” while using the technique to play Miranda Priestly in “The Devil Wears Prada”.