Andrew Garfield is winning accolades and awards for “Tick, Tick … Boom!” but his performance in the film’s musical also has a deeply personal meaning.
In an emotional appearance on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” on Monday, the actor explained how playing “Rent” composer Jonathan Larson in the film helped him process the pain he experienced after losing his mother, Lynn, to pancreatic cancer in 2019.
“I love talking about her, by the way, so if I cry, it’s a beautiful thing,” Garfield explained. “This is all the unexpressed love, the pain that will stay with us until we pass because we never have enough time with each other, it doesn’t matter if someone lives to be 60, 15 or 99.”
“So I hope this pain stays with me because it’s all the unspoken love that I couldn’t tell him,” he added. And I told him every day. We all told him every day. She was the best of us. “
Directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Tick, Tick … Boom!” follows Larson through his struggling artist days in New York before writing “Rent.” As he approaches his 30th birthday without great theatrical credit to his name, the composer finds himself at a personal and professional crossroads.
Check out Andrew Garfield’s talk with Stephen Colbert below.
“Rent” was a Broadway hit and influenced a generation of stage performers, including Miranda. Sadly, Larson himself was never able to witness the success of the musical. He died in 1996 at age 35, just hours before “Rent” was scheduled to give its first off-Broadway performance.
In his talk with Colbert, Garfield compared his mother to Larson, as they were both “warriors of art.”
“I was able to sing Jonathan Larson’s unfinished song while simultaneously singing for my mother and her unfinished song,” he said. “I am indebted to all who have brought me to this place to be able to honor the most beautiful person that I have experienced in my life through my art and to use it as a way to heal, to use it as a way to stitch up wounds. ”
Garfield, a 2017 Academy Award nominee for “Hacksaw Ridge,” previously opened up about Lynn’s death in an interview with Variety in September. He remembered almost turning down the role of televangelist Jim Bakker in “Tammy Faye’s Eyes” after learning of his mother’s cancer diagnosis, but chose to participate in the project at her insistence.
“She said, ‘I’d fight if you didn’t do it for me,'” he said. “I said, ‘Okay, but promise me that when it’s time to go home you’ll let me know.’
The actor continued to recall how he left the set of “Tammy Faye’s Eyes” to spend “the deepest two weeks of my life” with his mother shortly before her death.
“The good news about her and I is that we didn’t leave anything unsaid,” he told Variety. “Being with her and my dad and my brother, all her friends, my nephews. He was full of grace in the midst of the terrible tragedy. “