Andrew Garfield: “You need to live and let live”
THE RED BULLETIN: In Hacksaw Ridge, you play a soldier who rescues 75 of his fellow soldiers in a brutal battle, without firing a shot. Can you even begin to imagine how he did this in real life?
ANDREW GARFIELD: Not at all. We tried to make this film as realistic as possible, and it was brutal. At one point I texted a colleague, “Fake war is hard.” What Desmond Doss did in this particular battle is and was totally superhuman. Dragging 75 men across a rugged, hot, craggy landscape and then lowering them down from 75 feet with a single rope, it was crazy. I very, very quickly realised – maybe after attempting to drag the second guy across – that I was not cut out for this. The closest thing I can identify or compare it to is when you see mothers lifting trucks off their kids. He was filled with something that gave him the necessary strength to do the things he was meant to do in the world, to live out his particular destiny.
When did you last have a superhuman feeling?
In this role. For example, how do you make a movie about someone who didn’t want to have a movie made about him? How do you inhabit that humble stance of ‘I am not a hero. I did not set out to be a hero.’ That was an interesting challenge. I found myself asking for divine assistance at every turn. I knew I alone was not enough to bring this man’s soul to life.
It seems like you got that help. You’ve been nominated for an Oscar because of your performance. What lessons did you learn filming this movie?
Each of us has a specific genius and destiny to fulfil. Desmond Doss, the hero of Hacksaw Ridge, had a specific calling, to never pick up a weapon of war that would do harm to his fellow men, even though he was a soldier. He never told others to do what he did; he just followed his own personal guide and conviction. Everyone has a different calling within the diversity of humanity. I believe we are all designed for a very specific purpose, each of us.
We all try to live our lives by certain core values. What are yours?
I can’t really put them in a nutshell. The stance of live and let live is a stance that I try to embody in my life in terms of religious beliefs and a value system unto itself. My value system being different from yours is something to be celebrated as opposed to something we should fight about. A healthy debate is fun and wonderful and respectful. Desmond’s core value, and a value that I try to have in my life is living from a place of love in a very simple way. Desmond had that very simple access to that pool of unconditional love. You see it in how he did not discriminate with anyone he was healing or saving. He just saw a human being there. Your life is no less important than mine so I am going to sacrifice mine in order to save yours. That’s when the divine help comes. When you make that sacrifice, suddenly angels, divinity, call it God, call it mystery, call it ancestors, appear to be watching over you.
Have their been any situations when you could have used this help?
I was bullied at school. It was a confusing situation to go through, because I didn’t really understand it. I didn’t know what to do. I tried to be nice, and that didn’t work. It made it worse, because it was for no reason. I was a target, because I had a really good home life and maybe he didn’t. Luckily I had great parents that made sure I was loved and taken care of and told me that I was fine. They helped me understand that it wasn’t my fault.
It’s important that kids know that this happens to everyone at some point. It has nothing to do with them. But it can affect kids in their later life, and it’s totally avoidable. It made me curious, I like figuring things out and understanding things. I want to find out the big why. But it’s a constant process of opening yourself up and being generous. That’s my goal in life.