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HomeEntertaintmentTVAndrew Garfield on Exploring Mormonism in ‘Under the Banner of Heaven’ – The Hollywood Reporter

Andrew Garfield on Exploring Mormonism in ‘Under the Banner of Heaven’ – The Hollywood Reporter

Andrew Garfield on Exploring Mormonism in ‘Under the Banner of Heaven’ – The Hollywood Reporter

Fresh off of an Oscar nomination for Tick, Tick…Boom!, Andrew Garfield is turning his sights to the small screen, starring in FX true crime limited series Under the Banner of Heaven.

Admitting that after an extremely busy awards season, “I’ve been laying the hell down and contemplating existence,” Garfield was back on the carpet on Wednesday night for the premiere of the show. The series is based on Jon Krakauer’s novel about a detective (played by Garfield) investigating the Salt Lake City murder of a young woman (Daisy Edgar-Jones) and her baby who uncovers buried truths about the origins of the LDS religion and the violent consequences of unyielding faith.

“I loved the book when it first came out 10 years ago, I was obsessed with the book actually,” he told The Hollywood Reporter at the event, held at the Hollywood Athletic Club. “I found it to be so illuminating about a subject that I’m so fascinated in, about how do men get to the place of doing terrible, evil things and justify it using God as a shield.”

“It’s the type of character I’ve never played before, very internal,” Garfield added, noting, “A Mormon police officer is very far away from [Tick,Tick…Boom!‘s] Jonathan Larson. There’s a lack of expression there I was interested in playing with and making everything as internal as possible — seeing if I could communicate clearly just having it going on inside without having it being revealed on the outside. I liked the challenge and I loved the material.”

Early on in the production process — aside from consulting with creator Dustin Lance Black, who grew up Mormon — the star went to Utah to meet with both current and former members of the church, as well as consult with Mormon police officers.

“It puts flesh on the bone and fills me with the responsibility of making sure that I’m going as deep as I possibly can; to know that there’s somebody out there maybe watching this at home going, ‘That was my experience and I feel seen,’” Garfield said. “That feels important.”

The project also continues a recent Garfield trend exploring religion-based projects, following his portrayal of televangelist Jim Bakker in The Eyes of Tammy Faye, though he calls the convicted fraudster “the least religious, least spiritual person I think I’ve ever played, interestingly.”

“He worshipped at the altar of greed and money and status and power, the very narrow-minded view of what it is to be alive and be a person,” he said, but in diving into this series found “Mormonism has some real beauty in it I discovered and I found a lot to love in it: A community, a gentleness, a softness, and family values. But obviously there are terrible problems with it from my point of view, which I don’t feel the need to really get into.”

“I love exploring how people live, how people organize themselves around living, how we make meaning. And for me it’s storytelling and art and nature with the occasional little spiritual text in there if I feel inclined,” Garfield added. “I’m just fascinated with how we make meaning.”

Under the Banner of Heaven, which also stars Edgar-Jone, Sam Worthington, Wyatt Russell and Gil Birmingham, premieres on FX April 28 and next day on Hulu.

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