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Andrew Garfield Talks Brit Pack In Hollywood, Prepping To Play Spider-Man & How Red Sea Fest Reminds Him Of Sundance – Red Sea Film Festival

Andrew Garfield shared insights into his early days in Hollywood, experiences working on the Spider-Man franchise and thoughts about Red Sea International Festival Festival during his masterclass at the festival today.

He shared the stage with Saudi producer and Red Sea Film Foundation head Mohammed Al Turki, an old friend whom he’d worked with on indie feature 99 Homes in 2014. Directed by Iranian-US filmmaker Ramin Bahrani, 99 Homes was set during the recession period of the late 2000s when many Americans were losing their homes.

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“It was an interesting group of us making that film,” Garfield remembered. “There was Ramin who was an American filmmaker but of a very different cultural heritage, then Mo of Saudi heritage and me of English heritage. So there was this melting pot bunch of people who felt maybe like they were outsiders in a certain way, telling a story about what it is to be an outsider.”

Returning to the outsider theme, Garfield also talked about his early days in Hollywood, before he got his first big break, when he was hanging out with a group of young aspiring British actors, including Jamie Dornan, Robert Pattinson, Tom Sturridge and Charlie Cox.

“LA is a strange place for English people,” said Garfield, joking that he at least lived with his girlfriend while the rest were all roommates. “It was a pretty exciting, privileged time to be in and out of each other’s apartments and sharing drinks at the local hotel, not being able to afford more than one drink, and comparing which scripts we were reading.”

All of the gang have since become major stars, but back then they were all struggling together: “It’s a rare thing to be 50% so excited and full of support for your fellow artists and friends, and then 50% just horribly jealous – wanting to steal everything they had and why didn’t I get that audition?” Garfield joked. “But we were able to express that to each other – it was actually quite healthy to own both of those emotions and not be in denial about it.”

He also talked about being terrified when he first stepped onto his first ever film set – Robert Redford’s political drama Lions For Lambs – a feeling he hasn’t been able to shake even now he’s been working for nearly two decades and is 40 years old. He said he was shocked when Redford, who was also starring in the film, finished his first take and asked him his opinion of how it went. “I was like, gosh yes, that was great! That was true humility – you never know if it’s going to connect.”

He also compared Redford’s launch of Sundance film festival to what Al Turki has been building through Red Sea, sharing that Redford had told him that he’d initially started the festival to help a neighbour in Utah who was threatened with losing his land.

After buying the land for his friend, Redford had to figure out a way to use it: “And so he decided to create a festival for young, aspiring filmmakers, and it grew from a very small thing. The impulse came from the injustice that he was seeing of this man, who was about to lose his home, and he was like, well I can’t let that happen if I have the power to help.”

Al Turki then talked about the Red Sea fest, which is in its third edition, and Red Sea Film Foundation, which has so far funded more than 257 films. “This year’s Cannes had nine films from female filmmakers in official selection, and four of them were Red Sea supported,” said Al Turki to whoops and cheering from the room.

Of course, Redford is just one of many leading filmmakers that Garfield has worked with, a list that also includes Martin Scorsese (Silence), Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge) and Lin-Manuel Miranda (Tick, Tick…Boom!). Referring to these collaborations, Garfield said: “What I learned from all of those masters is that a great filmmaker has to be confident enough to collaborate with their fellow artists. If you have a filmmaker that just wants to be a puppeteer, and control every single aspect, you are stifling the creativity of thousands of amazing artists.

“If ever I find myself directing, which I’d like to do at some point, I hope to have the ability to honour the tribe around me to bring forward their most impassioned work.”

While the masterclass was attended by people of all ages, the highlight for many of the youngsters in the audience came when Garfield started talking about preparing for his role in The Amazing Spider-Man in 2012: “I loved it, but I was also so scared and felt so much pressure because it was my favourite character since I was three years old. I didn’t sleep very much, I was in the gym a lot, I was eating soup and berries and I was training in parkour, gymnastics and yoga. So it was really an intense time.

“Because again, I was just imagining myself in the audience as a five-year-old or a 13-year-old – and that is the most pressure I could ever put on myself – imagining myself as a kid looking up at that screen. I knew I needed to feel it and nourish that child to give him joy and love.”

The Red Sea International Film Festival runs until December 9.

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