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Garfield, Andrew (1983-)


Main image of Garfield, Andrew (1983-)

With his distinctive blend of fresh-faced good looks, intelligence, nervous energy and edgy introspection, Andrew Garfield is an impressively adaptable actor who has quickly distinguished himself in stage, television and film roles, both British and American.

He was born on 20 August 1983 in Los Angeles to an American father and English mother, thus enjoying a dual nationality status that has stood him in good stead. He lived in California until he was three, when the family moved to Epsom, Surrey. He became interested in acting as a teenager and at 18 was offered a place at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, from where he graduated in 2004.

Garfield initially focused on the theatre, where he soon came to attention, winning major awards for his performances in a 2004 adaptation of Ken Loach's 1969 film Kes at the Manchester Royal Exchange and in Chatroom, Citizenship and The Overwhelming, all at the National Theatre in 2006. Small roles on television included an eye-catching 2007 appearance in a two-part Doctor Who (BBC, 2005- ) story.

Two significant breakthroughs came that same year. Garfield was cast as an arrogant, politically apathetic Californian college student in Robert Redford's Lions For Lambs (US, 2007), a critique of America's war on terror. While the film was poorly reviewed, Garfield made a vivid impression in a cast loaded with high-profile, heavyweight actors, including Redford, Meryl Streep and Tom Cruise.

In the same month that Lions for Lambs opened, he displayed his range with a character which could hardly have represented a greater contrast. In Boy A (Channel 4, tx 26/11/2007), he was raw, gauche and painfully vulnerable as a former child murderer struggling to re-enter society after years in prison - a story with clear parallels with the shocking James Bulger case. John Crowley's acclaimed drama secured international exposure and earned Garfield a BAFTA Award for Best Actor.

After a small role in The Other Boleyn Girl (d. Justin Chadwick, 2008), he co-starred in Channel 4's Red Riding trilogy (2009) as a brash journalist investigating serial murders in Yorkshire in the 1970s and 1980s. Garfield played a sleight-of-hand artist in a travelling theatre troupe in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (d. Terry Gilliam, 2009) and the confused, inarticulate centre of a love triangle in the melancholy dystopian fable Never Let Me Go (d. Mark Romanek, 2010).

The Social Network (d. David Fincher, 2010) offered him a more substantial role, as the principled, well-meaning Eduardo Saverin, Mark Zuckerberg's best - if not only - friend, who co-founded Facebook only to be brutally squeezed out. Garfield won a best supporting actor Golden Globe award and two BAFTA nominations for his modestly engaging performance.

After a brief, equally praised return to the stage as Biff in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman on Broadway, he was cast as outcast-turned-superhero The Amazing Spider Man (US, 2012), inheriting the role from Tobey Maguire. He followed this with Back Roads (d. Adrian Lyne, 2012), an American-set murder mystery centred on a young man caring for his three younger sisters after their mother is sent to prison.

Sheila Johnston

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