Andrew Garfield has revealed that he began to admire Christ's teachings as he prepared for his role as a Jesuit in Martin Scorsese's new film "Silence."
The film, which is based on a novel by Japanese author Shusaku Endo, tells the story of two 17th century Jesuit priests who came to Japan in search of their mentor at a time when the country has forbidden Christianity.
Garfield, who was hired as a cast member a year before the actual shoot, met regularly with Father James Martin, who served as a consultant on the movie. He revealed that he immersed himself in Jesuit literature, and Martin provided spiritual guidance as if he was an actual Jesuit in training.
He and fellow cast member Adam Driver had to go to a Jesuit retreat in Wales where they had to go through the arduous Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Garfield compared the exercises to a 12-step program, The Hollywood Reporter (THR) reported.
"In fact, it's the basis for a lot of 12-step programs, a longform meditation and prayer spent imagining the life of Christ, story by story, gospel by gospel, and sitting with his teachings, sitting with him as he discovers who he is in the wilderness, and really meditating upon his life and even crucifixion," he told THR.
He explained that by the time of the shoot, he had absorbed the teachings of Christ and had a longing to share it.
"I was filled up with all this information and all this longing to spread the teachings of Christ, which I truly started to adore," he remarked.
Martin revealed that Garfield took his training seriously. "Andrew got to the point where he could out-Jesuit a Jesuit," said the priest, according to Business Insider.
"There were places in the script where he would stop and say, 'A Jesuit wouldn't say that,' and we would come up with something else," he added.
As part of the exercise, the two actors had to commit to a seven-day pledge of silence. When they come across each other, they would simply wave and continue with their studies of Jesus' life, crucifixion and resurrection.
Another part of the preparation involved losing a lot of weight. Driver lost 51 pounds over four and a half months. By the time they filmed the final scene, he was hallucinating from hunger.
"Silence" will be released in New York and Los Angeles on Dec. 23 before it rolls out nationwide in January.