Based on a true story, FX on Hulu’s ‘Under the Banner of Heaven’ is a crime series that follows Detective Jeb Pyre, a pious Mormon who investigates the double murder of Brenda Lafferty and her 15-month-old daughter Erica Lafferty. As the investigation progresses, Pyre comes across multiple suspects, several leads, and numerous developments that make him question his faith and beliefs.
Academy Award-nominee Andrew Garfield plays Pyre incredibly, especially with regard to his portrayal of the internal struggles of the character. As his performance captivates us, admirers of the actor must be wondering whether Garfield is a Mormon himself. Well, here’s the answer!
Is Andrew Garfield a Mormon?
No, Andrew Garfield is not a Mormon in real life. Garfield reportedly had a secular upbringing. Even though his father’s family is Jewish, he didn’t grow up as one. His mother, Lynn, was a pantheist, and his father, Richard, was an atheist while Garfield was growing up. The actor recognized himself as “a spiritual seeker” since he was a kid and had described himself as an “agnostic pantheist” in his later years. Still, Garfield has always acknowledged his Jewish ancestry and even identified himself as “a Jewish artist” in an interview in December 2021.
Garfield had to prepare meticulously for playing Jeb Pyre, a devout Mormon, in ‘Under the Banner of Heaven.’ “[…] I did a research trip to Utah and Salt Lake City, and I spent a lot of time with incredible people: ex-Mormons, current Mormons, bishops in the Mormon faith, and these detectives,” Garfield told EW about his preparations. “It was absolutely fascinating because — especially with the ex-Mormons and the journeys that they’d gone on — [they had] this expansion of their consciousness and openness to life, this free-falling into realizing that they contain multitudes,” he added.
Reaching out to current and former members of the Mormon church and Mormon police officers was a pivotal part of Garfield’s commitment to the character Pyre. “It [consulting with current and former Mormons] puts flesh on the bone and fills me with the responsibility of making sure that I’m going as deep as I possibly can; to know that there’s somebody out there may be watching this at home going, ‘That was my experience, and I feel seen.’ That feels important,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. In addition, Garfield also consulted with the show’s creator Dustin Lance Black, who grew up as a Mormon.
The preparation for Pyre and the portrayal of the character helped Garfield to dive into the nuances of Mormonism. As someone who loves to explore people and communities, the opportunity to play a Mormon gave him a chance to experience the culture. “Mormonism has some real beauty in it, I discovered, and I found a lot to love in it: a community, a gentleness, a softness, and family values. But obviously, there are terrible problems with it from my point of view, which I don’t feel the need to really get into,” he added in his conversation with THR.
Preparing to be a Mormon wasn’t the first time Garfield set out to learn religion and culture for his character. To frame his character Sebastião Rodrigues/Okada San’emon in Martin Scorsese’s ‘Silence,’ Garfield spent a year with Jesuit priest James Martin. The actor’s commitment to portraying his characters with commendable preparations shows Garfield’s immense dedication.