'Social Network' thesp to star in Sony's reboot of franchise

The weeks-long fanboy guessing game ended Thursday when Sony announced Andrew Garfield will star as Peter Parker in its “Spider-Man” reboot.

Garfield’s screen test clinched the deal for studio topper Amy Pascal, but the 26-year-old actor has a history with the studio: He co-starred in 2008’s “The Other Boleyn Girl,” which Sony distribbed in the U.S., and last year’s “The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus” (Sony Pictures Classics in the U.S.), and he stars with Jesse Eisenberg in the David Fincher-helmed “The Social Network,” which the studio will bow in October.

In fact, Garfield was promoting that film at a Sony international press junket in Cancun when he got the news.

Garfield had been named by Variety as one of its 10 Actors to Watch in 2007, the year he made his film debut in the Robert Redford-helmed “Lions for Lambs.”

Hundreds were considered for the plum role that was most recently filled by Tobey Maguire, and dozens were interviewed. According to a project insider, about six screen-tested for the part, and it came down to three: Garfield, Jamie Bell and Maguire doppelganger Alden Ehrenreich.

A lot of websites were buzzing with rumors of casting in the past weeks, with each of those actors “announced” for the role, as were other finalists, including Josh Hutcherson.

Marc Webb is directing the 3D “Spider-Man” pic, which has been slotted for a July 3, 2012, bow. Lensing begins in early December.

At the time of his Variety recognition, he told Daily Variety, “All I’ve ever aimed for is just to be allowed to express myself. And that people seem to enjoy seeing me do my work is more than I could hope for. I don’t take it lightly.”

The L.A.-born, U.K.-raised thesp also said he is inspired by “being able to affect someone the way other great actors have affected me,” citing Tom Cruise in “Magnolia” and Dustin Hoffman in such pics as “Midnight Cowboy.”

“Though his name may be new to many, those who know this young actor’s work understand his extraordinary talents,” said Webb, who helped Pascal deliver the news to Garfield. “He has a rare combination of intelligence, wit and humanity.”

His other bigscreen credits include John Crowley’s “Boy A,” for which he earned the best actor BAFTA in 2008; the “Red Riding” trilogy; and the upcoming “Never Let Me Go,” which Fox Searchlight will launch in September. Before 2007, his acting was primarily onstage. He won the 2006 newcomer prize at Evening Standard Theater Awards 2006 for his West End performances in three plays.

(Timothy M. Gray contributed to this report.)

Related: 10 Actors to Watch: Andrew Garfield (2007)

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