September 26, 2022
Here's Why Andrew Garfield Had To 'Fall In Love' With Mormonism

Andrew Garfield is no stranger to portraying characters who are one with their faiths. He’s become so well-known for portraying Christians suffering through religious crises that Paste Magazine even created a list ranking those roles. 

In the limited series for Hulu entitled “Under the Banner of Heaven,” Garfield portrays the fictional detective Jeb Pyre. Pyre, a devout Mormon, finds himself investigating the murder of a baby and her mother, both members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Pyre’s investigation leads him into a world of prophecy, faith, and family conflict, forcing him to ask some hard questions about a world he once uncritically supported.

While Pyre isn’t real, the case he’s investigating is. The miniseries is based on the book of the same name written by Jon Krakauer. “Under the Banner of Heaven” is a nonfiction account of the real-life murders of Brenda Lafferty and her daughter Erica, which took place on July 24, 1984 (per Time Magazine). Brothers Ron and Dan Lafferty, Brenda’s brothers-in-law and Erica’s uncles, stood accused of the crime. In his defense, Ron claimed that he was a prophet and had received a revelation from God to kill his family members, among others. Per Newsweek, both men went to trial, and Dan Lafferty is currently serving a life sentence in prison as of press time, while Ron Lafferty was convicted of a capital offense and chose an execution by firing squad. Ron Lafferty passed away of natural causes before the sentence could be carried out on November 11, 2019 (via The Salt Lake Tribune).

As he explained in an interview with Vanity Fair, Garfield prepared himself to take on the role of Pyre by studying Mormonism, to better understand the detective’s love of the religion. He visited Salt Lake City in Utah and spoke to many people of the Mormon faith. The individuals he spoke with included friends of “Under the Banner of Heaven” screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, who, per Vanity Fair, was raised in the Mormon church. 

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