Andrew Garfield Calls His Grief for Late Mother “Unexpressed Love”


In a handful of recent interviews, Andrew Garfield has been reflecting on his return to acting and how it’s helped him cope with the recent loss of his mother.

During an appearance on The Late Show on Monday, host Stephen Colbert asked the actor about his new film tick, tick… BOOM! in which he plays Jonathan Larson, the Rent lyricist and composer who died the same day as the musical’s debut, and “how doing this show, or any show, and art itself helps you deal with grief.” After taking a moment to compose himself, Garfield replied, “I love talking about it, by the way, so if I cry, it’s…only a beautiful thing.” He continued, “This is all the unexpressed love. The grief that will remain with us until we pass because we never get enough time with each other, right? No matter if someone lives until 60, 15, or 99. So I hope this grief stays with me because it’s all the unexpressed love that I didn’t get to tell her. And I told her every day! We all told her every day, she was the best of us.” Lynn Garfield died of pancreatic cancer in 2019.

He went on to explain that, thanks to this film, “I was able to step into this in a way where I could honor this incredible life of Jonathan Larson. He was taken far too soon. He died at the age of 35 on the night of the first preview of Rent off-Broadway in the New York Theater Workshop, some strange twist of fate that he was taken that soon. And this film is kind of to do with that, it’s to do with this ticking clock that we all have. That we all know somewhere deep down that life is sacred, life is short, and we better just be here as much as possible with each other holding on to each other.” So, he continued, getting choked up, “I got to sing Jonathan Larson’s unfinished song while simultaneously singing for my mother and her unfinished song. And I’m indebted to John, and I’m indebted to Lin-Manuel Miranda, I’m indebted to everyone who’s brought me to this place so I can honor the most beautiful person that I’ve ever experienced in my life through my art and use it as a way to heal, use it as a way to sew up the wounds.”

In an interview with GQ released on Monday, Garfield also addressed the sudden loss of his mother. “I find spiritual pursuit to be the only pursuit, really, for me, and that’s with my work and otherwise,” he said, adding that his parent’s death only strengthened that perspective. “There’s an acute awareness of just the ephemeral nature of this. And that is what gives it all meaning. I think the consideration of what’s going on behind everything is the only thing I’m interested in.”

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