Andrew Garfield reacts to the web of Oscar-nominated Spider-Man alums
With great power comes great responsibility...and apparently great acting chops?
While there were plenty of surprises amidst Tuesday morning's 2022 Oscar nominations, perhaps one of the biggest was just how many Spider-Man alums made the list. Andrew Garfield, who played the web-slinger in two films and reprised the role in a cameo in 2021's Spider-Man: No Way Home, earned a nod for his portrayal of musical theater composer Jonathan Larson in Tick, Tick...Boom!.
Kirsten Dunst, the original Mary Jane in the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man films, also picked up her first Oscar nomination for her supporting turn in The Power of the Dog. Her costar Benedict Cumberbatch snagged a nomination for Best Actor, and he plays a crucial role in the latest Spider-Man film as part of his Marvel Cinematic Universe duties as Dr. Strange.
Then, there's Oscar winner J.K. Simmons, who earned a nomination for his take on William Frawley in Being the Ricardos. He's spanned multiple franchise outings, portraying Daily Bugle publisher/editor-in-chief J. Jonah Jameson in the Sam Raimi films, as well as in the MCU's more recent entries.
"How funny it is that?" muses Garfield. "I'm so happy for Kirsten. I think her performance in The Power of the Dog is second to none. And Benedict. Obviously, J.K. — I'm a huge fan. It's a very, very funny thing. It's a cool morning."
Meanwhile, Spider-Man: No Way Home itself also picked up an Oscar nomination, for Best Visual Effects.
But setting Peter Parker aside, Garfield is celebrating his second Best Actor nod for his electric interpretation of Jonathan Larson. It's the second time he's been nominated for playing a real person, earning his first nomination for his take on pacifist and war hero Desmond Doss in 2016's Hacksaw Ridge.
"When a character hits with an audience and hits with touching something deeply in people, that's what this is," Garfield reflects. "Jonathan and Desmond were, in very different ways, men of faith. They were both men who had a kind of righteousness and a devotion to life, a devotion to goodness, a devotion to meaning, a devotion to community and devotion to something bigger than themselves. That is a beautiful human quality that strikes a deep chord within most people because we all want to live that way."
The nomination comes only days after what would've been Larson's 62nd birthday (Netflix even released a new Tick, Tick... Boom! song from the film in celebration). But Garfield says the entire process has felt like a birthday present to the late Larson. "Every time we get to talk about this film and to talk about John, it feels like we're honoring him. It feels like we're keeping his memory alive and we're keeping his heart beating and his song being sung," he notes. "It's all Jon's birthday, every time we get good news for our movie."
Larson, who posthumously was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Rent, never saw any of the accolades he craved in his lifetime, dying at 35 of an aortic dissection hours before the Rent's first Broadway preview. But Garfield still has some thoughts about what Larson would've made about the love for the film and his Best Actor nomination.
"He would be very, very proud, and very happy," he says. "And he would also make fun of it all. He was so irreverent, and he would undercut things in such beautiful ways. But I think he would also say, 'Damn right!' He was so in self-possession of his own powers and his own gifts. He didn't shy away. He would've worn success like a very well-fitting glove. I don't think he would have shied away in any way shape or form. He'd be like, 'Yes, this is correct.'"
With that in mind, Garfield points to one prophetic line from Tick, Tick... Boom! to sum up his thoughts on this honor. When Larson hosts a party for a bunch of his bohemian friends (and whoever happens to tag along), he faces inquiry from a party-crasher who asks what he does. To which he replies, "I'm the future of musical theater, Scott."
"Jon never got the honors," says Garfield. "He never got the awards while he was alive. He didn't get the harvest. He was just waiting and waiting and waiting and writing the next one and writing the next one. He never got to see any of the fruits of his labors. He says to a douchebag at a party in the film, 'I'm the future of musical theater, Scott.' Everyone else thought he was crazy. But he wasn't. So, here it is — Jon, proving that he is in fact the future of musical theater."
The autobiographical musical follows a version of Rent composer Jonathan Larson, who tells the story of his life in New York City, his friends, his romances, and his struggle to become a musical theater writer — all as his impending 30th birthday hangs over his head.