Tv detectives are usually ruthless people with no happiness left in life but the love of investigation along with their own haunted lives that they wish to escape. Yet Andrew Garfield's detective character in Under the Banner of Heaven presents a different picture than the TV detectives you are used to seeing.
A devoted parishioner of the Mormon church, the detective is clear on his ethics and has a great family life with a doting wife and their daughters. Extremely honest with his job, the Utah detective leaves no stone unturned when it comes to investigating crime, but faces major life-altering experiences when a crime messes with his very perception of religion and faith.
Tasked to investigate the 1980s murder of a mother and an infant, Garfield is left puzzled when his faith and religion stand in the way of his career and the truth.
Andrew Garfield plays Detective Jeb Pyre in the new FX series Under the Banner of Heaven by Hulu. His latest job task is to investigate the brutal mother of Brenda Lafferty, played by Daisy Edgar Jones, and her barely 18 months old daughter.
Though the story is based on real events, Pyre is a fictional character based on the actual detectives who went through the same struggle when investigating the murder in real life. The complete truth of the murder was first brought forward by Jon Krakauer in his book of the same name, Under The Banner of Heaven, and included the investigation of a fundamentalist association that played its part in Lafferty's murder.
Garfield revealed that he was hooked on the story of the particular case and when was approached by Dustin Lance Black, the show creator, he agreed right away. In fact, he was extremely interested in conducting his own research and going through the story, exploring the impact of fundamentalism and how faith and gender play together.
Talking with EW, Andrew Garfield shared that he read the book by Jon Krakauer 10 years ago and was instantly hooked by its content. The story was intriguing, mostly because it was so honest and genuine in explaining how men have been using religion as a crutch along with fundamentalism and hence have been fulfilling their own vendetta behind the curtain of Godly will.
It provides them the perfect ruse to hide their own desires and egos and in turn inflict pain and horror onto others. The first episode of the show aired on April 28 on Hulu.
Divulging how he found a footing for his fictional character in a story that is actually out of the real world, the actor shared that he tried his best to make sure that his detective character did not come off as fictional. Hence, he decided to meet the actual people who went through the same earth-shattering revelations as Pyre when investigating the Lafferty case.
The detectives that were tasked with the case were also Mormons and as they investigated deeper, they too were shocked and horrified that such a crime could have been committed under the pretense of faith. It was almost a blasphemy to commit the crime by using the names of the Mormon faith founders, Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, as a bargaining chip
The detectives who investigated the crimes in the real world shared their experiences from the case with Garfield under anonymity. They admitted that they themselves felt shook along with questioning the basis of their faith and how things were so rotted to the core.
Their predicament was terrible considering they were going against their faith and this is what helped Garfield approach his character. He felt the exact same tension playing the detective and hence, found a basis for Pyre's portrayal. Therefore, he was able to bring the character into the world as originally as all the other characters that are based on real people.
Garfield elaborated that during his research process for the series, he met with many people from the Mormon faith, some who are still devout and others that have left the faith, along with the detectives who helmed the investigation. He shared that it was surprising to hear the tales of the former Mormons and the things that they have witnessed that led them to leave the faith.
Many people realized how mentally challenging it was to go through these struggles and have their faith questioned over and over again. A narrow perspective was belittling their belief in life and how disoriented it all had become. The actor added that it was interesting to gather insight into all these experiences.
Talking about his chemistry with his on-screen partner Gil Birmingham, who plays Detective Bill Taba, Garfield shared that Gil is a very endearing person. They had great conversations about their respective heritage with Gil coming from the Native American side and Garfield coming from a Jewish family.
He shared that formed a deep bond with each other. The actor reveals that Gil is a "sensitive" person but since their zodiacs matched perfectly, they were able to create a happy little dynamic for themselves onscreen and offscreen.