How Andrew Garfield used grief to propel his performance in ‘tick, tick… Boom!’
(Credit: Netflix)

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How Andrew Garfield used grief to propel his performance in 'tick, tick... Boom!'

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s directorial debut on Netflix in form of the latest film tick, tick… boom! has been a brilliant exploration of artistic precarity. In his emotional and heartfelt tribute to the legendary playwright, composer and lyricist, Jonathan Larson, Miranda skillfully explored the complicated psyche of the maestro who desired success only to attain it posthumously. 

The title is derived from Larson’s eponymous screenplay where Andrew Garfield stars as the iconic playwright. On the brink of turning 30, he is grappling with the anxiety and paranoia of not being able to taste the success he yearns for. The poignance of the film lies in his desire to leave an imprint on the sands of time. His vulnerability and frustration due to rejection is a defining moment in his legacy. He is like Prufrock from T.S. Eliot’s poetry acknowledges the transience of time and is afraid of it. 

Andrew Garfield as Larson, adds a different dimension to the character. He refuses to give up due to his sheer love and passion for music and story-telling and the unwavering faith in his abilities. Garfield’s splendid tribute to the icon will be his career-defining performance. 

In a recent conversation on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, he opened up about how he prepared for his role. He used grief and emotional anguish to navigate his performance on the show. 

He said that he sang “Jonathan Larson’s unfinished song while simultaneously singing for my mother,” who passed away in 2019, shortly before the commencement of the pandemic, after a “long battle with pancreatic cancer”. 

He said that the film helped him “heal” from the tragedy of losing  “the most beautiful person that I’ve ever experienced in my life.”

Garfield pointed out to his father and brother in the audience before talking about how grief will always be a part of them and never leave them no matter how long it is.  He said that the “grief” will always be with him since it comprises “all the unexpressed love that I didn’t get to tell her” despite trying to make her feel loved every day. 

“We all know somewhere deep down that life is sacred. Life is short and we’d better just be here as much as possible with each other, holding onto each other,” he added. 

“I’ve lost people before, but one’s mother is a different thing,” Garfield concluded. “It’s the person that gives you life no longer being here. Nothing can prepare you for that kind of cataclysm.”

Using the same experience of unfathomable grief and suffering, Garfield used his performance as an outlet of expression. 

tick, tick…boom!, which is perhaps Netflix’s best film of 2021, is streaming now!