“I’m kind of bothered by the misconception, I’m kind of bothered by this idea that ‘method acting is bullshit,'” Oscar nominee Garfield shared on the “WTF with Marc Maron” podcast. “It’s like, no I don’t think you know what method acting is if you’re calling it bullshit, or you’ve just worked with someone who claims to be a method actor but who actually isn’t acting in the method at all.”
Garfield clarified, “People are still acting in that way, and it’s not about being an arsehole to everyone on set. It’s actually just about living truthfully under imagined circumstances and being really nice to the crew simultaneously and being a normal human being and being able to drop it when you need to, and staying in it when you want to stay in it.”
The “Tick, Tick, Boom” actor said that the “process to create” is “very private,” especially when it comes to employing method acting techniques.
“I don’t want people to fucking see the pipes of my toilet. I don’t want people to see how I’m making the sausage,” Garfield said. “But it really, really is profound work.”
Recently, actors Mads Mikkelsen, Jon Bernthal, David Harbour, Benicio del Toro, and Will Poulter have all weighed in on the concept of method acting, with Mikkelsen calling the modern misuse of the approach “insanity.”
Garfield credited Ryan Gosling for showing him what it’s like to experience working opposite a method actor up close. During Garfield’s first ever screen test for a shelved Scott Rudin-produced adaptation of “The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay” novel by Michael Chabon, Garfield witnessed Gosling’s dedication to performances.
“I was really overwhelmed,” Garfield said of the screen test where Jamie Bell, Jason Schwartzman, Cillian Murphy, and Tobey Maguire were also present. “I was like, ‘This guy is really doing something on a deeper level.’ He was alive. He didn’t care about doing it the same way over and over again. He was listening. He was very present. He was spontaneous, he was surprising. He wasn’t trying to do those things, he was just being present.”
During Gosling’s “Half Nelson” and “The Believer” era, the Oscar nominee had a “zen quality” onscreen, according to Garfield. “It was kind of like being in a scene with a wild animal where you didn’t know whether he was going to kiss you or kill you, and then you kind of hook into that,” he added. “You go, ‘I want to follow, however that is.’ Being in a scene with Ryan Gosling in that moment, I was like, it feels like he’s out of control. And I think he wasn’t, but he was letting himself be driven by things.”
Garfield compared Gosling’s approach to acting with Al Pacino’s performance in “Dog Day Afternoon” as well as Robert De Niro’s roles in “The Mission” and “Deer Hunter,” which make De Niro “our greatest living actor,” among the likes of Marlon Brando, Daniel Day-Lewis, and James Dean, Garfield said.
“You see someone who is just following his impulses,” the “Under the Banner of Heaven” actor shared. “Every single impulse is raw, and it’s real, and it’s vulnerable and grotesque and beautiful, and it’s poetic…That whole era of actor, that’s the gold standard of film acting for sure.”
He joked to host Marc Maron, “You’re getting me excited about acting again because I’ve been getting kind of tired.”