Andrew Garfield tricked people he was ‘fluent in piano’ for Tick, Tick… Boom!

·2 min read

Andrew Garfield believes he managed to trick people into thinking he was “fluent in piano” for his performance in Tick, Tick… Boom! despite no prior training.

The actor, who plays US composer Jonathan Larson, said he had enough coaching and resources to be “seemingly very confident” in his musical ability during filming.

The biographical musical film, which is Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda’s directorial debut, tells the story of Larson’s attempt to enter the industry by writing a new musical.

Evening Standard Theatre Awards 2018 – London
Garfield plays Rent composer Jonathan Larson in the biographical musical film (Ian West/ PA)

It features several sequences in which Garfield gives strong vocal and musical performances at the piano.

Speaking during a Variety Q&A session, Garfield, who had never played piano before the role, said: “I learned as much as I needed to by rote (repetition), as much as Lin needed to get on camera.

“By rote because as we get older it’s harder to absorb and learn new skills and we become less like sponges, well more like a crusty old sponge that needs to be chucked.

“Thank God I had a year and thank God I had resources that Lin and Netflix provided.

“I had a piano tutor for a year. I had (vocal coach) Liz Caplan whenever I needed her for a year to open up this vocal instrument.

“I’ve always wanted to just learn piano but I know that’s an indulgence that I can’t afford right now so I have to just get as much of…Happy Birthday, which I struggled with, down as possible.

“Just to serve the story and the way that Lin…wanted to shoot the film, I think we managed to trick people into thinking I am fluent with piano.

Mary Poppins Returns European Premiere – London
Tic, Tick… Boom! is Hamilton creator Lin Manuel Miranda’s directorial debut (Ian West/ PA)

“He gave me the runway and the resources to devote myself to making sure that by the time we got in (to filming)… I was seemingly very confident in my voice and in my piano playing.”

Garfield said despite his struggles he had “come alive” as the character of Larson when Miranda played him the song Back In Time by Huey Lewis And The News.

“Andrew/John felt like he was confident enough to let loose even though he was making terrible muppet sounds on the piano,” he said.

Garfield won the Golden Globe for best actor in a musical or comedy film for his role as Larson at the muted ceremony earlier this month.