In preparation for his role as Sebastian Rodrigues in the movie Silence, Andrew Garfield practiced the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius. While his goal was simply to prepare for an acting role, he ended up finding Jesus and “falling in love” with him.
Garfield told America Magazine, “I felt so bad for [Jesus] and angry on his behalf when I finally did meet him, because everyone has given him such a bad name… And he has been used for so many dark things.”
It’s a little ironic that a film portraying Jesuit priests losing their faith in the face of persecution in Japan would be the catalyst for Garfield’s newfound relationship with Jesus. Yet, it was the practice of meditating on Scripture and praying that eventually led Garfield to acknowledge Jesus’ presence in his life.
Garfield described the exercises of St. Ignatius as a “transformational process where you do the imaginative, meditative prayers with the life of Jesus, where you place yourself in each [New Testament] scene, much like being an actor.”
In addition to the exercises of Ignatius, Garfield went on a week-long silent retreat with actor Adam Driver (who also had a role in the movie Silence). He was mentored by a Jesuit priest, Father James Martin, who trained him as if he were going to become a priest.
While Garfield is wary of landing on any religion with “certainty,” as he explained in his interview with Stephen Colbert, he found the exercises and the things he learned about Jesus to be life-changing.
Silence released December 23, 2016, and is the latest film by director Martin Scorsese.