Andrew Garfield Lost out to This Role for Not Being ‘Handsome Enough’

The difference between becoming a star and being just another struggling actor is not talent. It’s opportunity. Luck plays a huge role in what performers get lifted up and who doesn’t. Networking, the privilege to pursue artistic dreams when success isn’t immediate, and getting noticed by the right people are all factors that influence the fates of actors, and none of this is under their control. And even if you get on the radar, you might not get offered work because the casting director doesn’t think you’re hot enough. That happened to a young Andrew Garfield when he was on the cusp of joining a franchise at the beginning of his career. That sliding doors moment hasn’t stopped Garfield from forming an impressive filmography with leading roles in indie fare and blockbusters alike. And the guy who got that role has done quite well for himself as well. 

Looks kept Andrew Garfield from traveling to Narnia

'Spider-Man: No Way Home' star Andrew Garfield
Andrew Garfield | Photo by Amanda Edwards/Getty Images

Based on the series of 1950s fantasy novels by C.S. Lewis, the filmed versions of The Chronicles of Narnia were moderately popular and collectively grossed over $1.5 billion. You can see why any young actor would want to be a part of such a project. But for Andrew Garfield, it was not meant to be. 

He explained during an interview with Entertainment Tonight that was one of the main candidates for the role of Prince Caspian, the Telmarine who — spoiler alert — becomes King of Narnia after defeating his villainous uncle Miraz. Garfield lost out to Ben Barnes, for reasons that must’ve stung at the time. 

“I think it was down to me and him, and I remember I was obsessed,” he said. His desperation compelled him to beg his agent for an honest answer. “She eventually just broke under my incessant nagging and she was like, ‘It’s because they don’t think you’re handsome enough, Andrew,'” Garfield admitted. 

He had only been in two movies prior to the release of the second Narnia movie, Prince Caspian, but both of them — Boy A and Lions for Lambs — received positive reviews. But while adaptations of children’s books aren’t the height of cinema, they do pay the bills. Garfield also uses the interview to discuss his “big spell of unemployment” during which he waited tables and made drinks at Starbucks for a year and a half, hoping that the big break would arrive at some unknown point.

To his credit, he holds no grudge against his would-be rival. “Ben Barnes is a very handsome, talented man,” Garfield graciously added. “So in retrospect, I’m not unhappy with the decision and I think he did a beautiful job.”

It probably helps that he’s done just fine without ruling over Narnia. 

Garfield’s become an interesting leading man over the past decade

2010 was the breakout year for Garfield. He played Tommy D in the excellent dystopian romance Never Let Me Go, and the betrayed co-founder of Facebook Eduardo Saverin in The Social Networkarguably the best movie of the century. 

As the film industry began to shift heavily in the direction of superheroes above all else, Garfield gave it a go as Peter Parker in the second adaptation of Spider-Man for the big screen. Both movies made a ton of money, but according to the standards of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which demands long term continuity and worldwide domination, The Amazing Spider-Man movies were not successful enough. There was a reason Tom Holland took on the role a few years later. But as nostalgia set in and it became clear that No Way Home was going to bring all three Spider-Mans onto the screen for the first time, fans were suddenly excited to see Garfield reunite with the character. And to his credit, he added a level of emotional depth to his part that wasn’t required in a movie set up to make billions anyway. 

In between appearances in the comic book universe, Garfield’s catalog ran the gamut of genres and scope. Playing a Jesuit priest (Silence) or a misanthropic conspiracy theorist (Under the Silver Lake) or an aspiring playwright (Tick, Tick… Boom!) don’t have much in common at first glance.

The one quality that linked these projects was Garfield’s sense of curiosity and sensitivity about why people act the way they do. His next role is in a crime miniseries Under the Banner of Heaven, in which Garfield plays a Mormon cop investigating the death of a woman. 

Barnes is a notable actor in his own right

Meanwhile, Barnes is doing well for himself as a TV actor. He had a minor role on Westworld as Logan Delos and played the villain Jigsaw in the Netflix adaptation of The Punisher. 

His biggest role since Prince Caspian is in another fantasy project, Netflix’s Shadow and BoneBarnes plays General Aleksander Kirigan, also known as the Darkling, commander of the Second Army and the main villain of the show. 

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