Shortly after completing his work on Martin Scorsese's Silence, Andrew Garfield landed a role in another movie about faith, the true story of Desmond Doss, a pacifist who was awarded for his bravery during World War II. And Garfield has just been Oscar nominated for his performance in the film.

Hacksaw RidgeAndrew Garfield stars in 'Hacksaw Ridge'

Intriguingly, it was Garfield's involvement that first attracted director Mel Gibson to the project. Gibson was a fan of Garfield's empathic performance in The Social Network, and knew he would bring something special to this movie.

For his part, Garfield found playing Desmond hard to resist. "The character was so compelling, it was one of those stories that rang a bell inside me," he says. "I'm pretty good at saying no to things. But if the longing to do it goes beyond my self-doubt, then I'm in."

Inhabiting a character like Desmond helped him approach the chaotic battle sequences. "I don't know if Desmond had the time to be frightened," he says, "whether he turned that into physical action or a prayer. But it was thrilling to have the physical things happening around us as actors and extras, and stunt guys dealing with all these explosions. There were times where it got tricky, especially when we were trying to achieve something intimate while mud was landing in the back of your throat!"

Watch the trailer for 'Hacksaw Ridge' here:


He says that the way Gibson works also helped create an amazing atmosphere on-set. "It feels like you're a traveling theatre company," Garfield says. "That's Mel's background, drama school in Sydney. I did mine in London and started in theatre, and it felt like a company of traveling gypsies. There was a real joy on the set amidst the trickiest, most harrowing stuff we had to do."

He goes on to describe Gibson's unusual approach to filmmaking. "Mel is incredibly instinctive and emotional," Garfield says, "all blood and guts, nerve endings, viscera and muscle! Simultaneously, he's got a tremendous intellect. He's very integrated. Even if we had a plan for the day, it would become null and void, because he was so awake and open to what the moment needed."

More: Read our review of 'Hacksaw Ridge'

Garfield says that this atmosphere helped the cast bond like real soldiers. "You have to laugh to keep from crying, as you imagine what those guys went through," he says. "Making Silence was isolating, but here I had the brothers, the wife, a great leader in Mel and maybe the odd beer on the weekend. That made it ever so slightly easier."