Andrew Garfield wasn't always a sex symbol. "I was a skinny kid. But I'm here to tell all the other guys that skinny is okay. You can still be a pretty good rugby player. And you can still be Spider-Man."
Listen to him. Not only does Garfield star in the biggest movie at the box office these days, but he's also dating his The Amazing Spider-Man 2 co-star Emma Stone (who considered passing on the role!).
On a chilly morning in New York, Garfield talks to us from his suite at the Crosby Suite Hotel. He's lean and lanky in jeans and a grey sweater. His hair is gone thanks to a fresh buzz cut for a new role. So, what's up next for Spidey?
YourTango: First things first … how tight is that suit?
Andrew Garfield: When I'm rescuing people on-screen, I forget I'm in Spandex and doing my job. Then the director says, "Cut!" and I notice how much pain I'm in and I can't see all that well. I'm also pretty much naked for the entire world to see.
YourTango: You have such a sweet love story with Gwen played by Emma Stone in the film. Did that surprise you?
Andrew Garfield: One of the great touches on these stereotypically big films is that there is intimacy. Real intimacy. You forget there is a camera rolling. You are in Union Square seeing the woman you love. These are the moments I cherish. I go home thinking, 'We just lived that great moment.'
YourTango: How do you describe this love story?
Andrew Garfield: There is a deepening of love for Peter and Gwen in this sequel.
YourTango: How is it locking lips with Emma on-screen?
Andrew Garfield: I'm doing love scenes with Emma and she's terrifyingly amazing.
YourTango: How has Spider-Man changed in this second outing for you?
Andrew Garfield: There is joy and exuberance in Spider-Man in this movie. He owns his gifts, which was important to me. It's similar to real life. We all want to own our gifts and be on our track in our lives. That's where we meet Spider-Man in this one. He's on track now. In the first one, Peter was struggling with who he is as a person and these gifts he was given. Peter was coming up against obstacles. We needed to see him enjoy himself as Spider-Man.
YourTango: Why do so many people relate to him?
Andrew Garfield: I'm sure if many of us were given his powers, it would be amazing and there would be a lot of saving going on in the world.
YourTango: How fun is it to swing around?
Andrew Garfield: The swinging is fun, but the simplest things are very hard. Walking on the ledge of a 50-story building is terrifying, even if I'm attached to a wire. My body doesn't trust that fact. My mind is screaming, 'You are stupid.' If I landed below on a cab, the driver would put the wipers on and wipe me off. It's New York City.
YourTango: What was it like to shoot on the streets of New York City. It's not like you could close the city down, so you had to work with it.
Andrew Garfield: There was a day when we were shooting downtown and it was raining. Half a block away there was a bunch of kids playing basketball. So I said, 'I'm going to go play basketball.' The producers said, 'You can't. You're in your Spider-Man suit.' I'm not that great of a basketball player, so when I got to the playground, I was like, 'Hi, I'm Spider-Man. I want to play.' These were New York kids, so playing basketball was a big deal. They said, 'We're in a game here, man. You got nexts.'
YourTango: What is it like when you show up in that costume?
Andrew Garfield: It's like being Santa Claus. I've done hospital visits as Spider-Man. I don't know what chemical is released in people when they see Spider-Man walking down the hallway in a hospital, but something truly does happen. Literally, a kid who was just through an operation and is in his hospital bed lifts his head and has a rush to the brain while thinking, 'Spider-Man is here. Everything is okay for a minute.'
YourTango: That's really sweet.
Andrew Garfield: It's reassuring to put on that suit, step off the set, and put a hand on everyone who may or may not need it.
YourTango: Is it true that it's hard for you to shake Spidey after you wrap?
Andrew Garfield: I don't sleep very well when these movies wrap. It's hard to turn off my inner Spider-Man because I really do dedicate my life to playing this character when we're shooting. I really feel his pain. It takes some eating and sleep and having fun to shake him. But he's still there.