Andrew Garfield has enjoyed the kind of success over the last six months most performers wouldn’t dare dream about. Garfield was an Oscar nominee for his performance in “tick, tick… boom!,” got to play Spider-Man again in the blockbuster hit “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” and is firmly entrenched in the Emmy Awards race thanks to “Under the Banner of Heaven.” The FX limited series has drawn broad acclaim since its debut on Hulu in April, not just for Garfield, but his co-stars Daisy Edgar-Jones, Wyatt Russell, Sam Worthington, and Gil Birmingham.
For cinematographer Tobie Marier-Robitaille, one of the directors of photography who brought the true-crime series to visual life, the opportunity to collaborate with these actors was something that left him feeling very fortunate.
“I come from the indie world. It was the first time for me doing American television. And not that I haven’t worked with great actors, but these actors are just incredibly good at what they’re doing,” Marier-Robitaille tells Gold Derby during our Meet the Experts: Cinematographers panel. “We wanted to give the actors room to play.” Watch the exclusive video interview above.
Created by Oscar winner Dustin Lance Black (“Milk”) and based on the nonfiction book of the same name by Jon Krakauer, “Under the Banner of Heaven” focuses on the murder of a young Mormon woman and her child in 1984. Garfield plays the detective assigned to the case, a member of the Mormon community who finds himself in the middle of a crisis of faith over the crime.
“As Lance said many times, we kind of let them play,” Marier-Robitaille says of the actors. “It’s big sets, great actors, you’re into, like, the technical [aspect of the shoot], and then you just pause for a second and it’s like, ‘Wow, this is just amazing. They’re so good.’” He was particularly impressed with Garfield: “The way that he could or they could, you know, just feel it and with no rehearsal, sometimes it was just like, here’s what we’re gonna do. And that’s it. Boom, roll camera.”
“Under the Banner of Heaven” is a murder mystery but it also tells an internalized story. To accomplish that duality, Marier Robitaille and the show’s production team decided sticking with the point-of-view of Garfield’s detective was paramount to the narrative.
“It’s his quest – this man struggling with his own faith,” he says. “My feeling was to put the camera as close as I could. Because that’s the way we feel it’s true. We’re there with him. We’re discovering [things] at the same time.”
“Under the Banner of Heaven” is streaming on Hulu.
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