Andrew Garfield Wants to Solve the World’s ‘Epidemic of Meaningless’

2 minute read

Actor Andrew Garfield is grappling.

At least, he said as much on the TIME100 Gala red carpet Wednesday night. The member of the 2022 TIME100 list is fresh off recent success in roles such as Spider-Man: No Way Home, the lead in Under the Banner of Heaven and playwright Jonathan Larson in tick, tick…BOOM!, which earned him a Best Actor nod at the Academy Awards.

In the wake of those accomplishments, Garfield is not resting on his laurels and backing down from the greater questions of the universe. He is facing those questions head-on.

“There might be an epidemic of meaninglessness,” he posited, when asked on the TIME100 Gala red carpet about what he sees as the most pressing challenge facing the world right now.

His concerns touched on philosophy and poetry. He invoked soul music and an underground network of fungi threads.

Rather than paraphrase his answer on the red carpet, here it is in full:

“There might be an epidemic of artlessness and meaninglessness we have to address.

I think there’s been a movement psychologically away from soul. We have one of our great soul artists down there, Jon Batiste, and he’s someone that I think has some answers. I think the poets have answers.

I think John O’Donohue, the great Irish philosopher-poet, has some answers.

I think Indigenous people have a lot of answers for us, because what Indigenous people know is that we are deeply related to this planet, we are deeply related familially to each other.

And with that comes interconnectedness, like mycelium beneath the surface of the earth, and with that becomes deep meaning, with that becomes community and a kind of magic and an awe at being alive.

And without that, if we forget that, which I think we are being encouraged to [do], all the time, we are bound to fall into an abyss of nihilism and meaninglessness.”

After imparting his wisdom, Garfield laughed at himself. “What did I just say?” he asked. “I think I said some stuff.”

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