The last two months have been an exciting time for Andrew Garfield stans. First he made a triumphant return to the role of Peter Parker in the MCU’s fourth-wall-breaking, multiverse-spanning Spider-Man: No Way Home, which reminded audiences that he was actually a great Spidey stuck in some not-so-great movies. And then he made everyone cry in the Netflix musical drama tick, tick… BOOM!in which he played the real-life late composer and playwright Jonathan Larson.
While Larson is best remembered for creating the hit stage show RENTthis movie (directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda) is based on the musical of the same name inspired by his life, which was in turn based on his autobiographical “rock monologue,” and is set in the eight days leading up to his 30th birthday as he battles with the pressure of trying to finish the rock opera he is working on and cement his creative legacy—a story made all the more poignant by the fact that Larson actually passed away at just 35.
Garfield has been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor as Larson due to his compelling performance, which again, will come as no surprise to his fans. What was more surprising, however, was hearing just how good of a singing voice the actor has. In fact, nobody may have been more surprised than Garfield himself, who claimed to have never before sung in public before making this film.
Is Andrew Garfield really singing in tick, tick… BOOM!?
Unlike in some film musicals, in which vocals are dubbed over footage of actors, or blended with the performer’s own voice (as was the case with Rachel McAdams in the Eurovision movie), the singing in tick, tick… BOOM! is all Garfield—although his pipes did require some coaching before he was ready to star in a Lin-Manuel Miranda production.
In a recent TV interview, Greg Miele—a mutual friend of Garfield and Miranda—re called how Miranda was interested in working with Garfield on the film after seeing him in the stage revival of Tony Kushner’s Angels in Americabut wanted to know if he could sing.
“I said ‘of course he can sing! He has the voice of an angel!” Miele said. “And I’d never heard Andrew sing. As soon as Lin left, I called Andrew, and I said ‘can you sing? Because I just lied to Lin-Manuel.'”
Garfield reportedly “freaked out” when he heard this, but once he heard from Miranda that he had a year before filming would begin, he threw himself singing into lessons with vocal coach Liz Caplan, and learned to play the piano. And as we now all know, he turned out to be pretty damn good.
“Andrew really threw himself in with such gusto,” said screenplay writer Steven Levenson in the film’s press notes. “We just watched a singer being born. It was pretty uncanny.”
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