The British actor appeared on the entertainment podcast “WTF with Marc Maron” on Monday to promote the true-crime series “Under the Banner of Heaven,” in which he stars as a detective whose faith is shaken when he is called to investigate a brutal murder in his local Mormon community.
As well as discussing the new limited series, his early acting career and the death of his mother, Garfield spoke about working with Martin Scorsese for “Silence,” a movie about two young Portuguese priests (Garfield and Adam Driver) who undertake a treacherous mission to Japan in the 17th century.
The 39-year-old also opened up about method acting, saying there had been “misconceptions” around the technique.
The Spider-Man star said he studied Catholicism with a Jesuit priest, went on a 31-day spiritual retreat and gave up “sex and food” before filming the movie.
“You end up in a pretty deep space,” Garfield said. “It’s a transformational process.”
“I was celibate for six months … and fasting a lot,” he added. “I had some pretty wild, trippy experiences from starving myself of sex and food for that period of time.”
Garfield said he took inspiration from method acting while researching the role, adding that he was “bothered about the misconception” that exists around the technique.
“It’s not about being an a**hole to everyone on set. It’s actually just about living truthfully under imagined circumstances, and being really nice to the crew simultaneously, and being a normal human being, and being able to drop it when you need to and staying in it when you want to stay in it.”
Method acting is a technique founded by Russian theater director Konstantin Stanislavski in the 1900s and further developed by legendary acting coach Lee Strasberg, according to the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute.
It encourages actors to use their “physical, mental and emotional self” to create a character while drawing on their own life experiences for the role, the institute adds.
Actors including Marlon Brando, Daniel Day-Lewis and Robert De Niro are known to have used the immersive technique, which can see stars staying in character during a project.
Last year, Lady Gaga told British Vogue that method acting helped her portray socialite Patrizia Reggiani in the fashion biopic “House of Gucci,” for which she earned a Golden Globe nomination.
However, other actors have expressed their reservations about method acting in the past, with Meryl Streep saying she “was so depressed” while using the technique to play Miranda Priestly in “The Devil Wears Prada.”