Andrew Garfield: 'Childhood meningitis battle left an imprint on me'

Andrew Garfield used his childhood battle with meningitis as inspiration for his role as a real-life polio sufferer in Breathe.

The Amazing Spider-Man star portrays polio pioneer Robin Cavendish in Andy Serkis' directorial debut, and he explains that although he has no memory of fighting off deadly meningitis as an infant, his health battle has left a big imprint on him.

''Something I can share which is interesting, although it may be a bit tenuous to some people reading this, is that soon after I was born I contracted a (strain) of meningitis called coxsackie, which is almost a funny word but not a funny experience apparently," he tells The I Newspaper. "It could have killed me, or meant that I had severe mental or physical disabilities for the rest of my life."

"Some people might not agree, but I believe that our birth story, what happens in the womb, when we come out, the environment we come into, whatever complications at birth leave an imprint on the child," he adds. "So I do believe that there is some innate knowledge of that experience in me somewhere. Some people may scoff at that.''

To prepare for the role, Garfield studied how people who use respirators speak, but he knew would never be able to fully express what Cavendish went through.

"How do you ever encapsulate someone?" he tells Yahoo movies. "You can't. It's impossible to do, even in an autobiography. If you have 500 pages to explain the insides of someone, it's impossible, so you just try your best as an actor to embody it to the best of your ability."