I attended an Andrew Garfield Q&A and it totally changed my perspective

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 16: Andrew Garfield speaks onstage at MoMA Contenders 2021 - "tick, tick… BOOM!" at Billy Wilder Theater at The Hammer Museum on March 16, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images for ABA)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 16: Andrew Garfield speaks onstage at MoMA Contenders 2021 - "tick, tick… BOOM!" at Billy Wilder Theater at The Hammer Museum on March 16, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images for ABA) /

Do you know those things in life that just feel meant to be? For me, a last-minute seat to Film Independent’s ‘An Evening With Andrew Garfield’ was one of those times.

I was in desperate need of a vacation. After two years of near-solitude; punctuated by incessant hand-washing and the occasional trip to the grocery store, I was ready to get back out there. Confusing COVID testing laws made me wary to travel back to the U.K. (something I was aching to do). So I “settled” on a 5-day trip to Los Angeles. I have friends out there, and a few days of sun and shopping certainly never killed anyone.

Full Disclosure…

My road to entertainment writing has been, to say the least, a winding one. I always knew I loved movies and had a fair amount of passion for performance, but I never quite knew what to do with it. When I entered my 30s, I figured I had sewn my path, and that was that. Still, pandemic boredom mixed with a dash of an early-midlife crisis sparked a desire to try something new. The last year has been a whirlwind of watching, writing, more watching, and more writing. Like many cinephiles, I have been in total awe of the career-defining year Andrew Garfield had – one in which everything he touched seemed to turn to awards season gold.

Getting back to it…

One night, feeling antsy ahead of my trip, I found myself aimlessly scrolling through my (jam-packed) inbox. As an amateur film reviewer, my Gmail account tends to be flooded with press releases. It may sound silly, but it’s such a delight – after years of floundering in my chosen “career path” – to even be included on such mailing lists. It’s akin to being a part of some exclusive club, or perhaps sitting at the cool kids’ table at lunch. That said, most of the “event invites” I get take place in NYC or Los Angeles. As a Midwesterner, that doesn’t help me too much.

Anyway, as I continued to peruse the virtual sea of press releases, one in particular stuck out: Film Independent, an amazing organization that supports indie filmmakers was offering (20 dollars!!) tickets to an in-person Q&A session with Andrew Garfield. In Los Angeles. On a night that I WAS GOING TO BE IN TOWN. Reader, I think I squealed louder than I did at the Hanson concert I went to when I was 12. A quick check of the seating chart, and there it was: one second-row orchestra seat. Practically front and center and just begging to be purchased. Could this be my luck?

Fast forward a couple of weeks, and the big night had finally arrived. I was (mostly) well-rested after spending a few days hiking and dining with friends, and a night at the theater felt like the perfect top-off for an already lovely vacation. I spent way too long getting ready, but hey – it’s not every day you get to sit 20 feet from a two-time Oscar nominee. I looked cute, and I had *zero* regrets.

Unsurprisingly, I was one of the first people at the venue and the first person in my seat (note that lack of… anyone else behind me.)

As the lights dimmed and the moderator, Turner Classic Movies host Dave Karger began his intro, I had a hard time keeping my cool. I leaned over to the 20-something girl sitting next to me.

“Am I the only one trying not to freak out right now?” I whispered to her.

“No!” she giggled.

OK, cool. I’m not the only total dork in this audience. That was my inner dialogue, soothing me as I prepared to come mere feet from one of the greatest actors of my generation.

The Spider-Man enthusiast in me was trying hard not to fangirl over Peter Parker. The writer in me was attempting to retain as much information as possible so I could share it on Twitter afterward. And then there was the average, everyday human in me – who saw a bubbly, slightly overwhelmed, and hard-working fellow person; engrossed in a flurry of press events, probably exhausted and missing his late mother so much that at one point he was moved to tears.

It’s a strange feeling – being within walking distance of a person you idolize – and realizing that (minus a few million dollars) this person is no different than you. He shared some relatable struggles with anxiety and Imposter Syndrome, and even details of his early days in L.A. in which he drove Vespa. Admittedly, as someone who loves speaking with actors and people in the industry, not being able to interview him myself when he was RIGHT THERE was slightly torturous. Still, I wasn’t about to spend the night in the Beverly Hills jail, so I managed to contain myself and remain seated.

So much was covered over 90 minutes that it would be virtually impossible to recap. But it left me in total awe of his complete, unabashed love for his job. As a self-proclaimed “film journalist,” I spend most of my free time studying and writing about people like him from afar and seeing that passion up close only served to solidify my love for what I do.

As Andrew said that night: “We’re here one day, and the next we are just gone. It’s about the time you have, and what you do with it.” And I figure I’d rather do what I love for free for the rest of my life than getting paid for something that makes me miserable.

It was a really special night, and I’ll probably remember it forever. Although, in hindsight – wearing red lipstick under my mask probably wasn’t completely necessary.

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