The Social Network star is a classically trained Brit who has impressed some of Hollywood’s top directors

By Jeff Labrecque
Updated August 26, 2010 at 04:00 AM EDT

How he snared Spidey
Fanboys were surprised when director Marc Webb announced Garfield as his friendly neighborhood hero on July 1—instead of contenders like Josh Hutcherson and Jamie Bell. (Garfield will replace Tobey Maguire in the Sony reboot of the comic classic, due July 2012.) But the 26-year-old already has great industry buzz thanks to head-turning roles as a rehabilitated killer in 2008’s Boy A and as the magician who jousted with Heath Ledger for Lily Cole’s affections in 2009’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.

A chance encounter
Garfield was discovered by director Stephen Daldry (The Hours), who caught the actor’s 2006 performance in the Burn/Chatroom/Citizenship trilogy at London’s National Theatre.

The fame game
The grounded Brit seems prepared for the notoriety that comes with starring in a comic-book blockbuster; as he told EW last October, “There are certain aspects of the job that are just these disguised monsters, a wolf dressed in a sheep’s clothing. Bulls— can sometimes smell like roses. I’m fully aware of the pitfalls.”

Up next
Garfield’s two fall films—Never Let Me Go (Sept. 15) and The Social Network (Oct. 1)—both have Oscar ambitions. “He thinks and feels deeply about the work, but when the cameras stop rolling, he’s relaxed and really easygoing,” says Never Let Me Go director Mark Romanek. “I can’t see why he won’t bring the same level of truth, energy, and smarts to the role of Spider-Man.”