Marc Maron had referenced his interview with Andrew Garfield on the last couple of episodes of WTF, so I expected it to be a good one. It’s more than that. It’s a remarkable episode in a strong run of episodes (Jerrod Carmichael, Patton Oswalt), in part because you just don’t hear two guys quietly, tearfully talk about grief in such a raw manner.
There’s a moment with about 20 minutes left in the episode where it gets quiet — but not awkward — when an overwhelming flood of feelings comes over Maron while he’s trying to talk about the loss of his girlfriend, director Lynn Shelton, two years ago. Garfield feels it, too. He lost his mom, with whom he was very close, right before the pandemic — he’s spoken thoughtfully and lovingly about his grief on other occasions. It’s really kind of profound to listen to these two grown men talk — and cry — about the presence of their absences, and the form that absence has taken for them. It takes up space, it ebbs and it flows, and rather than try and live around that space, they live with it, allowing it to inform how they live their lives.
But — and this is something Maron has repeated a few times — they talk about how once you experience real grief for the first time, you realize just how much a part of life it is, how normal is it, and how loss does not make you special. It’s hard to grapple with, but once you accept how small your own grief is relative to everyday loss, it doesn’t make it easier, but it does make it more manageable. There is nothing more commonplace than loss; the key is talking about it, because that’s the thing that people don’t do.
The episode wasn’t all about grief. I usually hate it when actors get into their process, but Garfield manages to make it interesting, talking about the moment that really changed his life as an actor. He did a screen test with Ryan Gosling for a The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay movie that never came to fruition, and he was so impressed with Gosling — this is circa Half Nelson — that he sought out Gosling’s acting teacher. The fact that Gosling and Garfield follow the same method makes so much sense to me. Maron and Garfield also spoke about a few of those transcendent acting moments they’ve seen in movies — DeNiro in Mission, Pacino in Dog Day Afternoon — and what made those moments so unique.
Speaking of method, Garfield also talks about what a bad rap that “method acting” has gotten from the likes of Jared Leto (and maybe Jeremy Strong). He says that it’s very possible to inhabit a character “at the cellular level” and still be kind to the cast and crew, and anyone who can’t isn’t doing method acting correctly. I also got the impression, given his style of acting, that he didn’t much care for doing the Jim and Tammy Faye movie, if only because he had to inhabit such a terrible man. He also spoke about working with Mike Nichols at the end of his career, and the difference between Sidney Lumet’s style of directing, and the style of David Mamet, who is kind of an “asshole” (based on his book, not on direct experience).
Garfield is a terrific actor — always has been — but I think he reached another level in Tick Tick … Boom!, a good movie made great by Garfield — and while I listen to scores and scores of these podcast interviews, this one was worth singling out for how unusually powerful and honest it is. Garfield is a real one.