Andrew Garfield's Words on Grief Following the Loss of His Mother Have Left Me Speechless

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Andrew Garfield has brought many to tears with his moving musings on grief. The actor recently appeared on The Late Show to discuss his new film Tick, Tick... Boom!, in which he portrays late playwright and composer Jonathan Larson. Shortly before filming began, however, Andrew experienced his own loss: the death of his mother, Lynn, from pancreatic cancer in 2019. In turn, the project offered a way to process.

"This is all the unexpressed love."

"I love talking about it, by the way, so if I cry it's only a beautiful thing," Andrew told host Stephen Colbert. "This is all the unexpressed love, the grief that will remain with us until we pass because we never get enough time with each other — no matter if someone lives till 60, 15, or 99. I hope this grief stays with me because it's all the unexpressed love that I didn't get to tell her. And I told her every day, we all told her every day. She was the best of us."

Though a biographical film at face value, Andrew said the underlying message of Tick, Tick... Boom! is all about the undiscriminating brevity of life. (Jonathan sadly died from an aortic dissection at 35, on the day of Rent's first off-Broadway preview.) "This film is to do with this ticking clock that we all have," Andrew said, "that we all know that somewhere deep down that life is sacred, life is short, and we better just be here as much as possible with each other, holding on to each other."

Andrew ended the vulnerable interview by expressing gratitude for the role, and the profound opportunity it provided. "I got to sing Jonathan Larson's unfinished song while simultaneously singing for my mother, and her unfinished song. I'm indebted to Jon, and I'm indebted to Lin-Manuel Miranda," he said. "I'm indebted to everyone who's brought me to this place so I can honor the most beautiful person that I've ever experienced in my life through my art and use it as a way to heal, use it as a way to sew up the wounds."