'Lions' actor certainly not a lamb anymore

Making your American screen debut in a film that co-stars Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep and Robert Redford is certainly one way to get noticed.

“I’m just lucky to be there working on the same project as them, although I don’t really expect to be recognized later by audiences,” says Andrew Garfield, who stars in the Redford-helmed “Lions for Lambs,” a pic that examines what it means for a country to be at war, and why certain individuals choose to fight.

But recognition — at least from Blighty theater critics — hasn’t been a problem for the Los Angeles-born Garfield. He was raised outside London, where he’s spent most of his career. The thesp was named outstanding newcomer at the 2006 Evening Standard Theater Awards for his West End stage work, and this year shared the London Theater Critics’ Circle Most Promising Newcomer Award with fellow thesp Connie Fisher.

“I’ve been really lucky,” a modest Garfield explains. “Something artistic can just as easily go bad as it can go good, and I’ve been fortunate to work with great people in the theater.”

The actor admires Redford’s career path and would like to stay on a similar course.

“I sort of have his voice in my head about how not to get seduced by money, status or superficial things,” says Garfield. “I don’t really want to do ‘American Pie 7,’ and I see Bob as someone who was the heartthrob of his generation, moved away from the place where people wanted to pigeonhole him and made interesting choices.”

As his career picks up momentum — he’ll co-star with Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman in “The Other Boleyn Girl” as well as British indie “Boy A” — Garfield says he wants to avoid the kind of fame-seeking behavior taken in by some other young actors and focus on the work as the reward.

“All I’ve ever aimed for is just to be allowed to express myself,” says Garfield “And that people seem to enjoy seeing me do my work is more than I could hope for. I don’t take it lightly.”

MOVIE MUSINGS

AN ACTOR SHOULD ALWAYS: “Stay true to your instincts. Hang in there and stick it out and find out if you have (what it takes) to do this job.”

I’M INSPIRED BY: “Being able to affect someone the way other great actors have affected me.”

FAVORITE FILM CHARACTER: “Tom Cruise’s character in ‘Magnolia’ was brilliant. I also love everything Dustin Hoffman has done. He was amazing in ‘Lenny,’ ‘Kramer vs. Kramer’ and ‘Midnight Cowboy.’”

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