Andrew Garfield is getting real about his relationship with drugs.
The 34-year-old actor won a best actor trophy at the London Evening Standard Theatre Awards earlier this month for his performance as Prior Walter in Tony Kushner’s AIDS-era drama Angels in America — a play her referred to as “a little bit like an acid trip” in his acceptance speech.
It turns out, the analogy was something Garfield knew all too well.
“Drugs… The word has such a stigma,” he recently mused to the Evening Standard, while also admitting he spent a day last year eating hash brownies at Disneyland. “I can only really take substances if it’s a ritual,” he said. “I mean, weed, I can smoke because it’s just nice. But with hallucinogens, I have to do it in a very conscious way in a place where I feel free and safe and can have a freak out if I want to. I want to be able to express my insights.”
Acting, it turns out, is not so different than drugs for Garfield. “That’s what makes it so beguiling and so addictive,” he said. “You get to be bigger than what you are. You get to hold more than you. You get this divine dissatisfaction.”
Angels in America may have given Garfield that “divine dissatisfaction” he craves, but it wasn’t easy at first. The epic story — performed in two separate plays running over 7 hours total — is extremely challenging for Garfield, both technically and emotionally.
“I didn’t consider how hard it would be,” Garfield said of the show, which ran at London’s National Theatre earlier this year and will transfer to Broadway this spring. “When I started, it was bliss. But about halfway through, I realized how difficult it was to sustain.”
“Everyone’s in a spiritual emergency in that play. Even though we’re playing make-believe, your body doesn’t know it’s not real. I reached burnout halfway through,” Garfield added. “I’d be dragged to the theatre kicking and screaming on some occasions. I have a tendency to the dramatic and I have a tendency towards the pathetic. There was a scary dissonance. I had felt, intellectually and viscerally, that this is as good as it gets. So, for that to be worn out of me, I felt guilty and ashamed. It’s never going to get better than this and here I am not wanting to do it.”
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As painful as those shows were, Garfield said he was able to surrender himself fully.
“That’s spiritual practice, as far as I understand it: it’s the basis of a fast, or a vision quest, or any of this plant medicine stuff that’s becoming very popular with people,” he said. “Ego death. The aim is to get out of the way.”
Speaking of getting of the way, Garfield also told the Evening Standard he plans to get out of the way once his run in Angles is over.
“It took ambition, yes. I have been incredibly ambitious. But my ambition will now go towards something else,” Garfield said, when discussing his career and what’s next. “I think it might go towards how to live rather than how to work. If you know what I mean.”
“It will be different… I know that,” he said. “I feel like I’m in the embryonic phase of a new cycle. I’ve been single-minded for the last 12 years or so. … It’s time to think about other things now.”