Andrew Garfield talks ‘Under the Banner of Heaven’ true-crime miniseries

Andrew Garfield_HULU
Andrew Garfield stars as detective Jeb Pyre in ‘Under the Banner of Heaven.’

By María Estévez, MWN 

‘Under the Banner of Heaven’ is an upcoming true-crime drama miniseries based on the book of the same name by Jon Krakauer. The highly-anticipated limited series by Academy Award winner Dustin Lance Black and executive producers Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, and Anna Culp shows Andrew Garfield as detective Jeb Pyre.

Ever since he took off his Spider-Man suit, the English and American actor has played a significant number of spiritual characters and now he investigates events that transpired within the Lafferty family and uncovers buried truths about the origins of the LDS religion and the violent consequences of unyielding faith.

Metro sat down with Garfield to learn more. 

When you’re handed a role of this significance, how do you deal with that?

To be honest, I’ve been a fan of this book by Jon Krakauer since it came out. I read it so hungrily, and I found it so deeply fascinating, the themes, the story itself, how thrilling the story was, but also how horrifying it was. And I, of course, like other people on the Zoom call, thought, well, who is going to make this into a film or a television show, because it has to be made. And then, you know, cut to 10 years later, and I get a call from Dustin and from Ron and Brian. And I thought, well, this is the perfect team to do it. And especially with Dustin being so connected to the subject matter and the material, I was kind of convinced right away that this was just an incredible group of creative people that were going to not only honor what Jon Krakauer wrote, but also honor Brenda and Erica Lafferty and really unpick the rot at the core of what enabled such evil to take place. And they weren’t going to sensationalize anything, and they were going to make it so – I don’t know, like a kind of step‑by‑step understanding of how something so horrific could come to pass.

Did you have any hesitation to play this role?

It was kind of a no‑brainer because of the people involved, and the subject matter just interests me deeply. It is such an important story for human beings to look at, how we create the myths that we live within and how they infect and affect our behavior.

How did you find Jeb’s depth, his spirituality?

I wanted to know everything about him and I read the book writing on the margins, trying to find whatever I could about Jeb. I spent an entire day feeling his presence, asking him to guide me on the path of representing him. I asked him to tell me how to be him in the best possible way, and I must admit that in a mysterious way, I felt his presence on the set. We all soaked up his spirituality by making the film.

Do you think the audience will be moved by the story?

It took a lot to make this show, but I hope that when they see it, the audience will feel the impact of the story.

This is the third or fourth character, depending on where you want to put Jim Bakker in the span of things, that you have played that is in the midst of a crisis of faith. What has drawn you to those characters and especially to Jeb?

Yeah. I have been asked this question a lot, and I am still not clear about why. It is kind of mysterious. I think questions of spirituality, questions of faith and doubt, questions of how to live one’s life, questions of the meaning of life, and I think, maybe even more vitally, living on a knife‑edge between life and death, it’s only there that I think that we start to really get into what we are doing here when we are breathing and incarnating on this Earth. Films, TV shows, stories of spirituality and those questioning faith deal with that very issue of what do we do here while we are alive and how does our comprehension or our belief in what happens after or before affect how we live here. I think that may be the most kind of juicy question that I can ask as a storyteller, as a creative person, and just personally.

This piece creates a tremendous acting challenge of the balance between being an officer of the law, deep beliefs, Jeb’s loyalty to his religion, and the chance of offending people who follow that religion now. All of those were at play…

Yeah, I think it is great. It is a really, really great question. And I think it is about ultimately the pursuit of the truth in the face of the potential loss of one’s family, one’s social structure, one’s life.

You have been working in Hollywood for many years. Do you still get nervous?

Yes. I am a lion in a cage in the days leading up to the start of filming. Whenever I start a project, there is a threshold to cross that tortures me internally. All actors are fed by the fear of a new challenge because that is part of the essence of this profession.

Are there any characters that you have pursued but never got?

No. But if there were, it’s very likely I wouldn’t say it. [*Laughs*] I believe in that maxim of the universe that says, ‘Things happen for a reason.’ I don’t dwell on what I haven’t achieved, on the contrary, I feel grateful for what I have achieved

The first two episodes of ‘Under the Banner of Heaven’ will be released on Hulu on April 28.