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An­drew Garfield spent three months ex­plor­ing the ex­tra­or­di­nary char­ac­ter of Des­mond Doss, the real-life hero whose story is told in Mel Gib­son’s gritty war film Hacksaw Ridge.

Spi­der-man star Garfield, 33, plays an Amer­i­can war hero who saved many lives in Ok­i­nawa, Ja­pan, un­der lethal fire. A war hero, yes. Ex­tra­or­di­nary? Most cer­tainly. Des­mond served in the mil­i­tary as an un­armed medic who re­fused to fight be­cause of his re­li­gious prin­ci­pals. He res­cued an es­ti­mated 75 badly in­jured men who would oth­er­wise have died in the kill zone - with­out car­ry­ing or fir­ing a gun. Garfield says: “There wasn’t any hes­i­ta­tion when I read the script. I think it’s rare in this world to have some­one like Des­mond, who is so tuned into them­selves, so tuned into what that still, small voice in­side is say­ing, that no mat­ter what is thrown at them, they know what they can do, and what they will not do. Des­mond treated the en­emy with as much care as he would treat his fel­low Amer­i­cans.” Gib­son has been praised for his di­rec­tion in Brave­heart and Apoca­lypto. The Aus­tralian felt it was a priv­i­lege and an hon­our to tell the story of a true hero. He says: “Des­mond Doss ab­horred vi­o­lence, it was against his prin­ci­ples, his re­li­gious be­liefs, but he wanted to serve his coun­try. How does some­body go into the worst place on earth with­out a weapon? It was all the more com­pelling to me, be­cause it was a true story, and I thought I could bring my vis­ual lan­guage to it.” The 60-year-old is still strug­gling to com­pre­hend his cen­tral char­ac­ter’s brav­ery - and morals. “He was a co­op­er­a­tor in the sense that he pas­sion­ately wanted to join the war ef­fort. But he wanted to en­ter it as some­one aim­ing not to take life but to save it, be­liev­ing that he had plenty to con­trib­ute with­out hav­ing to kill other hu­man be­ings. “You have to ask, what kind of mad­man goes into war with­out be­ing armed? One of the things that stood out to me about Des­mond is that in Ok­i­nawa, this guy was heroic 24/7, for a whole month. He took hero­ism to an­other level not of­ten seen.”

CHARG­ING: Hacksaw Ridge stars An­drew Garfield, above, and Vince Vaughn (far right)

DI­RECT AP­PROACH: Mel Gib­son with girl­friend Ros­alind Ross

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