Andrew Garfield has shared how he "fell in love with Jesus" while playing a 17th century Jesuit priest in director Martin Scorsese's "Silence" film.
During an interview with National Catholic Review magazine, the 33-year-old actor opened up about his experiences preparing for the movie, which hit theaters last month.
"There were so many things in the exercises that changed me and transformed me, that showed me who I was ... and where I believe God wants me to be," said the actor, who studied to be a Jesuit priest for a year and examined Christian writings to prepare for the film.
"What was really easy was falling in love with this person, was falling in love with Jesus Christ. That was the most surprising thing," he added.
"That was the most remarkable thing ... falling in love, and how easy it was to fall in love with Jesus."
Based on the acclaimed 1966 novel by Japanese Catholic writer Shusaku Endo, "Silence", rated R, tells the story of two Portuguese Jesuit priests, played by Garfield and Adam Driver, who face violence and persecution when they travel to Japan to locate their mentor Liam Neeson, who renounced the faith under torture at the hands of the Japanese regime.
Garfield said that while preparing for the film, he felt frustrated that others had given Jesus a "bad name," and that Christianity has not always been used for good.
"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," he said. "And He has been used for so many dark things."
Garfield, who previously said he was a "pantheist, agnostic, occasionally atheist and a little bit Jewish, but mostly confused" before learning about Jesus, said he was afraid he wasn't good enough when turning to Christ.
"The main thing that I wanted to heal, that I brought to Jesus, that I brought to the exercises, was this feeling of not-enough-ness," he continued.
"This feeling of that forever longing for the perfect expression of this thing that is inside each of us. That wound of not-enough-ness. That wound of feeling like what I have to offer is never enough."
In an earlier interview, the "Spiderman" star said he began to "adore" Jesus and opened up about the tremendous impact the film had on him - both personally and spiritually.
"I was prepping for a year," he told Time Magazine. "I underwent this spiritually transformative process that St. Ignatius created-a retreat where you meditate and imaginatively walk with Jesus through his life, from birth to resurrection. My experience was very personal."
He added, "Hopefully we're dying on the cross every day and being resurrected in a truer way every day. That's the idea, for me-the old self being shed in order for the truer self to emerge."
Before starring in "Silence", Garfield played Desmond Doss the late World War II U.S. Army medic Desmond Doss in the Mel Gibson film "Hacksaw Ridge". Despite being brutally challenged for his faith, Doss, a devout Seventh-day Adventist, refused to bear arms or kill in the Battle of Okinawa.
"One of the main reasons I was drawn to doing it and to playing him was his awareness of his own ego and humanity, but his faith was the strongest part of him," Garfield told Time Magazine reporter Sam Lansky of his character. "He was empty enough to be in touch with spirit, to be in touch with his own deep inner-self, to be in touch with God."
Garfield said something - or Someone - drew him to the film in a powerful way: "I think when... you get pulled toward something-it means there's something urgent happening," he said. "I was so soothed spending time with Desmond because he managed to transcend or get underneath the pervading cultural attitudes through his faith and become a symbol of, 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you'; of, 'I will sacrifice myself for my brother.'"
Meanwhile, "Silence" has received rave reviews from critics - both Christian and non-Christian alike. In an op-ed for Christianity Today, author Brett McCracken describes "Silence" as a film that "draws the viewer into an ever more contemplative space, gradually stripping away all else and focusing our gaze on Christ."
"This is a film about what it means to know Christ, the 'man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,' even in our darkest moments of despair and pain. To believe in Christ is to believe in Immanuel, "God with us": with us in weakness, with us is doubt, with us in suffering," he writes.
"We don't always hear God or feel him in our pain, and yet he is still with us," McCracken continues. "This is the faith of Father Rodrigues in Silence."
Director Martin Scorsese, a devout Catholic, recently met with Pope Francis to discuss the film and has referred to "Silence" as his "passion project". The world premiere of the film was held at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, followed by a special screening the next day in Vatican City.
The film director described the experience of seeing his movie screened at such a setting as "stunning," and also said that Francis was very "disarming" during their meeting.
"He was the most disarming ... everything was fine," Scorsese said. "He was smiling and thanked us for being there."
Earlier, Scorsese described the process of making "Silence" as a "pilgrimage," a working-out of his faith through cinema.
"My way into spirituality happens to be Roman Catholicism," he said, according to Christianity Today. "Over the years I have been concerned about just distilling it to the essence of how one should live one's life in imitation of Christ, so to speak. This film enabled me to not only think about this but to work it. For me the film isn't finished."