Andrew Garfield has opened up about the grievance of losing his mother to pancreatic cancer, saying it left him in “precise agony” and struggling to make sense of the world around him.
The actor, 38, who was recently nominated for an Oscar for his role in Netflix biography Tick, Tick… Boom!, started filming just after Lynn Garfield, a teacher from Essex, died in 2019.
“It is very, very difficult, I think with a loss like that the world gets rearranged and I say that knowing I am not unique in that experience,” he told Jackie Long on Channel 4.
“It’s so strange because it feels very unique when it is happening, it feels like, ‘oh my God, I’m the only person that’s ever lost their mother’, because it does feel so lonely and precise.
“It just feels like a precise agony and for a period of time I didn’t want to, and I wasn’t able to, do anything. I was kind of wasted and the world didn’t make sense, and it still doesn’t, because I miss her greatly, and I hope it never makes sense because I always want to miss her.”
Garfield plays Jonathan Larson in the biography, the lyricist and composer of the musical Rent who died on the day it opened. It is the directorial debut of Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, and tells of the challenges Larson faced attempting to break into the industry by writing a new musical.
Garfield has already been recognized for the role, winning best actor in a musical/comedy film at the Golden Globes – something he believes his mother would have been proud of.
“She was proud of my achievements but she was much more proud of how I treated someone in Sainsbury’s or Asda that was checking us out with our groceries. She was someone that was about the small kindnesses in life,” he said.
“If I’m short-tempered with someone, if I’m having a rough day and someone walks past me and they’re nice to me and I’m gruff, I will feel a little hand on my shoulder. It will be my mother’s hand, and I hear her say, ‘Andrew …’, and I’ll go back and I’ll say, ‘Hey, sorry, that was a bit rude of me.’
“I hope she never takes a hand off my shoulder in that way.”
Garfield previously spoke to Variety about his mother’s death, saying he had only just learned of his diagnosis before he went to North Carolina to shoot The Eyes of Tammy Faye.
He said his mother encouraged him to go, and agreed to let him know when it was time to come home. He traveled back to England to be by his side in late 2019.
Speaking to GQ in November, he said there was “nothing left unsaid” between them.
“We had all the quality time we could possibly have while she was here,” he said. “And those last two weeks I got to be with her were probably the most profound two weeks of my life.
“To be with her and my dad and my brother, all of her friends, my nephews. It was full of grace in the midst of the terrible tragedy.”