Stepping into a superhero suit is a big deal for any actor, but for Andrew Garfield, putting on the iconic red and blue latex of Spider-Man was the fulfilment of a boyhood ambition.
“It was an incredibly profound moment,” says the 28-year-old, who grew up in Surrey.
“It was the first costume I ever wore as a three-year-old, so it’s always meant so much to me. When I first put on the suit, I was emotionally overwhelmed because it was something I’d always fantasized about.”
As is often the case though, the reality soon proved to be a little less glamorous than the dream.
“The suit’s not designed for comfort,” Garfield adds, laughing. “It’s designed for looking awesome on the outside and feeling terrible on the inside! So that first moment was mostly just itchy and uncomfortable.”
And with great superpowers comes great responsibility. For Garfield, this means proving to the millions of Marvel Comics fans, and the film’s producers, that he can pull off the part.
It’s exactly 10 years since Tobey Maguire first donned the Spidey outfit in Spider-Man (which broke box office records as the first film to take more than $100m in a single weekend) and only five years since his third and final outing in Spider-Man 3.
Garfield is philosophical about the pressure he’s under.
“I’m not scared,” he says, absent-mindedly running a hand over his a lightly stubbled chin.
“I am playing the same character Tobey played but that’s the way it goes. There will be comparisons and there’s no way to control that. I have to let that go.
“But I respect what he did immensely. When I was 19, I watched that first Spider-Man and it reminded me how much that character always meant to me and reignited my passion for it.
“So it’s an honour to step into the suit after him, and I’m excited to then pass it on to the next person, you know?”
As well as the itchiness, Garfield also experienced a mini epiphany when he first put on the suit, which helped lift some of the burden.
“I realised it’s too big a symbol for me to fill and I think it’s too big a symbol for even Peter Parker to fill. I don’t think he ever feels like he can live up to the symbol he creates,” he says.
“That suddenly made me feel freer to explore the character and the journey.”
Like the first Maguire film, The Amazing Spider-Man is an origins tale, explaining how Peter Parker becomes the superhero, but that’s where the similarities end.
The love interest in the film is not Mary Jane, but Peter’s school crush Gwen Stacy, and the villain is The Lizard, rather than the Green Goblin.
Aptly-surnamed director Marc Webb and Marvel Studios founder Avi Arad knew that, if they were going to bring the character back so soon after his last incarnation, they would need to do something different.
Arad says: “We didn’t know what made him Peter, so we went to the origin-origin, in which he lost his parents, encumbered by not knowing what really happened. Are they dead or alive? Were they good or bad people?
“When you meet Peter, you see the complexity of an orphan. It’s a very different set-up.”
It’s no secret now that Garfield fell for his co-star Emma Stone (who plays Gwen Stacy) on set. The pair have been dating since last summer and are often photographed together looking very much in love.
He admits it was key that their characters had good on-screen chemistry, saying: “All the dynamics are based in love.”
Garfield was born in Los Angeles to an American dad and English mum. The family moved to Surrey when he was three and Garfield started acting classes in Guildford when he was 12, later training at the Central School for Speech and Drama.
In 2008, he won a Bafta for his breakout performance in Boy A, and in 2010 received Golden Globe and Bafta nominations for his part in the Facebook film The Social Network.
Until now, Garfield’s been able to keep a fairly low profile, but when The Amazing Spider-Man is released, he’ll be thrust into the limelight.
“I don’t think anything can prepare you for it. I think you have to just move with it, but it scares me, it’s something I could do without,” he says of media intrusion.
“That might sound strange because here I am, going, ‘Look at me, look at me!’ But I kind of don’t mean it. I want you to look at the character, at the mask. I want you to look at Peter Parker.”
To get into role, he spent hours reading Spider-Man comics and trying to “inundate” himself with the qualities of the character.
“But actually, the most useful thing was going back to my very personal connection to it. I feel a very, very deep connection and always have to Peter Parker,” Garfield concludes.
“And I think the three-year-old inside of me was the best kind of compass I could have.”
The Amazing Spider-Man is released in cinemas on July 3