Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield star in The Amazing Spider-Man in theaters on July 3. / Robert Sebree/USA WEEKEND
Peter Parker's Picks
What keeps The Amazing Spider-Man entertained? Andrew Garfield shares his faves.
Movie: Chronicle. “The really great thing about this movie is it explores legitimately what it would be like for teenage kids to get superpowers and what they would do with it. They [mess] with people and they test themselves.”
TV: Reality series Dance Moms, 16 and Pregnant, The Bachelor and The Voice.
Game. iPhone game Tiny Wings, another (not necessarily angry) bird game that gives you a variety of tasks to perform.
Wait! That’s not Mary Jane!
No, Gwen Stacy is definitely not MJ. For fans of the Spidey saga, Gwen actually is an important character: Peter Parker’s original love interest. Stone ditched her signature red locks for the role — in fact, returning to her blond roots.
As adolescents, Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone struggled to overcome external obstacles: his face-covering eczema, her horrific acne, his parents’ mandate that he study business, her frustration with traditional schooling.
Now, years and accolades later, they’re set to revisit the transformational teen years playing Peter Parker and his first love, Gwen Stacy, in The Amazing Spider-Man. The latest interpretation of the webslinger’s story, out July 3, pits heart-wrenching growing pains against Parker’s mysterious lineage, a hostile police chief and the diabolical Lizard.
“This is why I love Peter Parker so much,” says Garfield, 28. “The struggle of when you feel stronger on the inside than in fact you literally are on the outside. ... It was the same struggle I had.”
On a rainy day in New York City, Garfield and Stone sniffle with colds. Armed with antibiotics and their senses of humor, the real-life couple race through cultural references (Beatles to Bridesmaids), curious musings (“Do you see blue the way I see blue?”) and lighthearted teasing (“What was I saying?” “Just something incredibly uninteresting.”)
When Garfield orders soy milk with his latte, he grimaces. “Sorry, I just discovered I am lactose-intolerant. I am not the pretentious person who asks for soy.”
It may be clear to him that he is not that guy now, but while growing up in London, Garfield had little idea who he was or what he wanted.
“My plan was no plan,” says Garfield, whose father was a swim coach and mother a teaching assistant. “I was a gymnast and a swimmer, and my dad said to do business, and so I did. But I was in the wrong room with all of it.”
That phrase — “the wrong room” — comes from a talk that resonated with Garfield, in which a failing student is taken from the classroom and left alone in a room. She begins to dance, and discovering her calling, eventually becomes a renowned choreographer. She had just been learning, as he puts it, “in the wrong room.”
At 16, Garfield finally stepped into the right one: a theater. A visit to London’s Théâtre de Complicité and a new drama teacher inspired him to pursue acting seriously. The actor’s eyes bulge as he hugs himself, reliving the discovery. “I was like, ‘Ohhhh. Myyy. God. Finally home. Home! Home! Home!’”
Stone’s “home”-coming began years before she, at 15, famously used a PowerPoint presentation to persuade her parents to move her to Los Angeles. Bored with sixth grade, Stone made a plea for home schooling.
“I told my parents, ‘We are 44th in the country in education in Arizona,’” says Stone, now 23. “It was incredible. I got to take philosophy and religion and screenwriting —”
“Amazing,” Garfield interjects. Her story strikes a chord with him, as he leans in close. It’s one of the many moments the interview segues into an eavesdropped conversation; their excitement in learning about the other spilling out in exclamations, interjections and obvious delight.
“And I could do back-to-back plays — ”
“You were like, ‘I. Know. Myself.’”
“I knew from a really early age that I wanted to act — ”
“You revolutionized your whole school situation!”
“And I had just started doing improv and theater — ”
“I found my people. I found my glee club.”
“I think that people that are really inspiring are the people who aren’t following a path, that are just following their own guide,” Garfield concludes. “Which is what you did when you were a kid, and that’s incredibly cool and inspiring.”
From pivotal adolescent moments came adult critical sucess. Stone nabbed a Golden Globe nomination for her work in Easy A and was praised for her performance 2011’s The Help. Garfield, last seen in the 2010 Oscar winner The Social Network, recently earned a Tony nomination starring in a revival of Death of a Salesman.
Garfield and Stone work hard to counteract some of the more mind-numbing elements of promoting a new film. Stone has swapped the Internet and her magazine addiction for books. (“What human reads?” Garfield quips. “It’s so retro, like a vintage activity!”)
“On the press trip for Spider-Man, I’ll have to do interviews and tell people why my hair is blond and who my favorite designers are and what my beauty regimens are,” Stone says. “Then I am going to go home and read [Joan] Didion and say, ‘Yes, this is reality.’”
On the flip side, Garfield tempers the intensity of his stage role with mindless distractions.
“In the long run, [Salesman] will be really good for me, but during has been really terrible for me in a lot of ways because your body does not know it is not real,” Garfield says of his seven-shows-a-week schedule. “You go through trauma every night. Maybe that is why I feel the need to act stupid otherwise.”
Later this summer, the couple plan a little down time. Perhaps they’ll hang out in their new Manhattan apartment or stroll the city hand-in-hand (their sidewalk canoodling is a favorite paparazzi shot).
“Down time for me looks like two weeks of real happiness,” Garfield says. “Then a few months of ‘What am I doing? What am I doing? What am I doing?’”
All the right things, it seems, in the right room.