John (Andrew Garfield) is hosting a party, although there is hardly any reason to celebrate. He’s plagued by anxiety, his cramped apartment is full of people, and he’s only spent money he doesn’t have, a down payment on success that won’t come in his lifetime. But still, with a wide grin, John toasts his friends, leaps onto his couch and sings, “This is life!”
john is Jonathan Larson, composer and playwright, who died suddenly of an aortic aneurysm in 1996 at age 35, just before his new musical, “Rent”, would become a global smash. new movie “Tick, tick… BOOM!Portraits Larsson struggling to find success in his late 20s, as he frets about whether he should pack it up and take a more traditional path than a musical theater script.
Larson originally said “Tick, tick… boom!” Make. As a solo show, “Boho Days,” starring himself in 1990; After his death, it was reworked into a three-person production by playwright David Auburn, which was seen by “Hamilton” producer, Lin-Manuel Miranda, in 2001, when he was still a senior in college.
“Here’s the posthumous music of the guy who made me want to write the music in the first place,” said Miranda, who has now made his directorial debut with the film.
Miranda sees Garfield in 2018 Broadway production”Angels in AmericaAnd thought he was “excellent” on that show. “I just left thinking, ‘Oh, that guy can do anything,'” the director recalled. “I didn’t know he could sing, but I thought he could do anything. So I got it in my head for maybe a year before I talked to him about it. “
Miranda put Garfield through his pace, sending him to a vocal coach and ensuring that the actor would be able to play the piano enough so that the camera could pan from his fingers to his face throughout the film. But they’re just the technical aspects of a performance that’s impressively close: Garfield plays the passionate, frustrated Larson with enough spirited enthusiasm to power all the lights on Broadway.
It’s part of a very busy fall for the 38-year-old actor, who recently “…Tammy Faye eyesas disgraced televangelist Jim Bakker and, it is rumored, will follow suit Tom Holland and Tobey Maguire in ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’, “Out in December. (About that supersecret superhero team-up, Garfield can’t tell anything.) Still, it’s clear that “Tick, tick… boom!” meant a lot more to her than that. It was as much as he had initially expected.
Garfield told me on a recent video call, “It’s weird when there’s someone like John you didn’t have a relationship with before, and then all of a sudden there’s this mysterious forever connection that I’ll never, ever know.” I will not.” From Calgary, Canada, where he is shooting a limited series “Under the Banner of Heaven”. “I just feel so lucky that John appeared before me, because now I can’t remember who I was before I knew who John was.”
Here are edited excerpts from our conversation.
How to “tick, tick… boom!” Basically come to you?
one of my best friends in new york greg met, and he’s New York City’s great body worker and massage person—he’s worked on dancers and actors and singers all over Broadway and beyond. One morning Lynn was at her table and asked, “Can Andrew Garfield sing?” And Greg, being that friend, basically started lying, and said, “Yeah, he’s the greatest singer I’ve ever heard.” Then he called me and said, “Hey, go and learn some singing because Lynn’s going to ask you to do something.”
Lynn and I had lunch, and he briefly told me about “Tick, Tick” and John. I’m not a musical theater guy in my history – it’s not something I’ve been exposed to until the last few years, really. So Lynn left me a copy of the music and lyrics, and he wrote next to it, “It doesn’t make sense anymore, but it will. Cimpre, Lynn.”
You have “performed in plays like”Angels in America” And “death of a salesmanOn Broadway, but in this movie, Lynn surrounds you with a lot of musical-theatre ringers, and even a few small roles and cameos are filled with major players from that world. It must have been a difficult place to step into.
I remember a very specific moment when we were in music rehearsal. Alex Lacamoire was walking us through the song on the piano – he’s Lynn’s music arranger and producer – and I accompanied [“Tick, Tick” co-stars] Robin de Jesus and Vanessa Hudgens and Josh Henry and Alex Shipp. You can imagine how I feel! They are all just professionals, they know what they are doing, they are making notes. I’m like, “Oh my god, I’m going to die.”
Then it’s time for me to get into the song and I’m just trying to get it done. I remember Alex Lacamoire going, “Woo, Andrew!” And then everyone behind him, like Josh and Vanessa and Alex and Robin, was like, “Yeah baby, it’s baby! Baby, you got it!” I go to Beat Red and five minutes pass, and I’m like, “Hey guys, sorry.” I start crying, and I say, “I don’t know that I’ve ever been so happy in my entire life, that I’ve been surrounded by the most helpful liars I’ve ever known.”
Jonathan spends the movie worrying about this ticking tick that only he can hear. How did you explain it?
The original one-man show “Boho Days” had a line: “Sometimes, I feel like my heart is about to explode.” It was so common for people after he passed away, and they had to cut it out, but he’s trying to figure out what it is: “Is it turning 30? Isn’t it that I’m successful? Didn’t happen? Is it some unconscious thought of my girlfriend’s biological clock combined with the pressures of my career? Or is it all my friends who are losing their lives at a very young age due to the AIDS epidemic?”
It can also be a musical metronome. The way you play Jonathan, as this dramatic guy who feels so deeply and urgent, it’s almost like he needs to break into song because normal life just doesn’t cut it.
Everything happens at 11 o’clock. Even when he’s making love, it’s still 11 o’clock! Somehow he knows it’s all going to end, that it’s all so short-lived, and I think he was acutely, painfully aware that he wasn’t going to sing all his songs. And I think he was also aware that he was not going to get the reflection and validation that he knew he should have had when he was breathing.
On the last day of shooting I understood that John had figured it out. He knew it was a short and sacred journey, and that he had many keys and secrets to it, how to be with himself and with each other and how to make sense of being here. Once he has accepted it, he can be part of the world as a whole, and then he can write “Rent”. I don’t think it’s an accident. That same visceral knowledge of loss and death, that same visceral, is what gives everything so much meaning. And without that awareness, we will succumb to meaninglessness.
So what did this story mean to you?
Every frame, every moment, every breath of this film is an effort to honor John. And, on a more personal level, it’s my mom’s honor. He is someone who showed me where to go in my life. He put me on a path. We lost him just before Covid, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer, just before we started shooting. So, for me, I was able to continue to wave his song over the ocean and Jonathan’s songs. It was an attempt to honor and meet him in his incomplete song, and in his incomplete song.
I guess that’s the reason why I didn’t want to finish this film, because I had to put my sorrow in this creative work in art. The good fortune of my life has been for my mother, being the person who gave her permission when she was ready. We had a very wonderful relationship, and now viewers will get to know his soulmate unconsciously through John, which I just find so magical and beautiful.
Still, there’s a lot to deal with when you were shooting this film. It couldn’t have been easier.
I was hesitant whether I was going to share it, but I think it’s a universal experience. In the best case scenario, we lose our parents and not the other way around, so I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to be with her while she was passing, and I get to read her favorite poems. And got a chance to take care of him. And my dad and my brother. I have lost people before, but someone’s mother is a different thing. This is the person who gives you life by not being here. No one can prepare you for that kind of devastation. For me, everything has changed: where there was once a stream, there is now a mountain; Where there used to be a volcano, there is now a plain. It’s a weird head trip.
You give your share to other people, almost as if they are your stewards. And when you lose those people, suddenly you become their steward.
As you say, it’s like my mother lives in me now in a way that is probably stronger than she was when she was incarnate. I feel its essence. To me, this comes only when one can accept the loss, and in our culture it is very difficult for us to do so because we are not given the framework or tools. We are told in the confusion and denial of this universally binding thing that we are all going through at some point, and it is fascinating to me that this grand adventure of death is not honored.
In fact, the only thing that makes any sense to it is if we walk with death in the far corner of our left eye. This is the only way we become aware of being alive in the moment. I think that was the legacy that John leaves and the legacy that my mother leaves for me personally, that’s just here to stay. Because you’re not going to be here long.
It reminds me of what was written on your script before all this happened: “You don’t understand now, but you will.”
“You won’t understand now, but you will.” I am still shaken by the download of understanding what John’s life was about, what my mother’s life was all about. Oh my god, how lucky to find that in someone’s work!