It’s a beautiful time for musical theatre fans with tick, tick… BOOM! finally here and Andrew Garfield waxing poetic about the film and Jonathan Larson's life during his many press stops. The authentically raw autobiographical musical stars Garfield as the late Rent-penning legend Larson and is directed by beloved musical theatre genius Lin-Manuel Miranda.
And when we had a chance to speak with Garfield about the experience, he didn't hold back about how much it meant to him and even lead to a mini-epiphany while he was in mid-sentence.
“The fact that [the movie] was about Jonathan Larson and his life, it was like, ‘Oh no, this is maybe too soulful for my little heart to take. It’s too much beauty and joy and sorrow,'" Andrew shared with Etalk’s Danielle Graham about signing onto the project.
“The story of Jon is so full of longing and creativity and struggle and community and love and being misunderstood and doing it anyway. Being true to your gifts, being true to your art,” he continued.
“I want to spend my time with people like Jon and Lin telling stories like this one. This is—I’m realizing it in the moment now—this is exactly how I want to live my life," he said, visibly moved. "I'm just so indebted to him for bringing me on the journey.”
Garfield has been incredibly candid about his deep relationship with the film and subject matter. Last month, he shared a beautiful and teary moment with Stephen Colbert when talking about grief and the recent passing of his mother. That clip resonated widely with people who understood exactly the feelings of love, longing and sadness he was describing.
Another ingredient to tick, tick... BOOM!'s magic is its director. Andrew himself has been infatuated with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton since early on in its viral fame, so receiving a call from Lin-Manuel wanting to work with him on the project was the “craziest call” he ever received—especially since he had no previous singing experience.
“It's as if the album you've been listening to on repeat for the last three years suddenly starts talking to you and says, ‘Hey, you, listening nonstop for the 89th thousandth time? Hey, you, Andrew. Do you want to come and maybe create something with me?’” Garfield shared. Truly, the only right answer to Lin-Manuel Miranda asking you to join his new film is "Yes, absolutely, where do I sign?!"
Technically, tick, tick… BOOM! marks Lin-Manuel Miranda’s directorial debut, but Andrew insists you would never know. Anything the multi-talented artist touches turns to gold.
“He's a born storyteller. He's a born leader. He's a constant creative six-year-old boy still—like he's Peter Pan in that way. His imagination is unbridled and unfathomable and kind of completely uncontrolled. And so that's contagious.”
He added that the humble director made sure the filming process was democratic and encouraged the actors to contribute their ideas on set.
“Anything goes, you know? He was someone that was just like, ‘Best idea wins. What do we got?’” Andrew said. “Obviously, as a writer—this was his story to tell. Like, his connection with Jonathan Larson is so real and so profound. So, I'm just so impressed with him and continue to be.”
For those not well versed in the origins of tick, tick... BOOM!, the critically acclaimed Netflix film tells the story of the creative force behind the musical Rent. The film is based on his autobiographical musical monologue of the same name which retells and reflects on his life before he turned 30.
In tick, tick… BOOM!, the movie, Garfield's Larson strives to achieve musical theatre success and escape his life as a struggling artist before his 30th birthday. While he lives on the brink of poverty, Larson questions whether he is in the right profession or if he should quit his dream, thereby becoming a "sell-out."
Ultimately, Larson continued to pursue his artistic dreams (with a little extra push from the late Stephen Sondheim) but, tragically, the night before his soon-to-be smash success Rent made its off-Broadway debut, the musical playwright passed away from an undiagnosed aortic aneurysm. Though his journey was cut prematurely, his story and work continues to live on.
Garfield says that, like Larson, he had a crisis of faith early in his career, but ultimately survived to create great art.
“When I left drama school, I had a year of being unemployed, which is a rite of passage in a necessary thing because—obviously not to the extent of Jon—but it makes you have to reaffirm and recommit to that primary dream that you have.”
“So, you know, it was tempting to give in. It was tempting to get a proper job. But then, thank God, I hung in there, and I started to work again. And then, you know, and then I'm here talking to you, and I'm the luckiest person I know.”
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