Andrew Garfield, the young English actor who appeared in "The Imaginarium Of Dr. Parnassus," the "Red Riding" trilogy, and the upcoming Mark Romanek film "Never Let Me Go," has been cast as Peter Parker for the upcoming "Spider-Manreboot, according to a press release by Sony Pictures.

"Boy A" was actually where I saw him the first time, and right away, he seemed like a young actor worth paying attention to, someone with a very raw and honest approach.  His work in the "Red Riding" trilogy is mature and difficult, and he was absolutely up to the task.  And working with Terry Gilliam on the troubled "Parnassus" was a great move.  Even though all the press on that film was about Heath Ledger's untimely demise, onscreen, it was Garfield who served as the emotional core of the movie, and he was great in it.

He's older than I would have expected based on the casting speculation surrounding this film.  Most of the final candidates are genuine teenagers, while Garfield is 27 right now.  Originally, the Jamie Vanderbilt script for this film had Peter Parker as a high school student, and the assumption was that Sony would cast young so that they could do several films over the course of high school and college, a la the Brian Bendis take in "Ultimate Spider-Man."  What we're hearing now though is that Parker starts the series as a college student, and that makes more sense with this casting.

I'm not shocked about this.  I know that both Logan Lerman (who we had heard at one point was very close to getting the role) and Josh Hutcherson had their supporters at the studio, and both of them shot screen tests late in the process, but Garfield is already part of the Sony family.  He's got a featured role in this year's "The Social Network" for David Fincher, and if both that film and Fox Searchlight's "Never Let Me Go" end up as major awards season contenders, there's a good chance Garfield is going to start production on this film in December as a much bigger star than he is right now.

Here's the press release Sony just sent out:

After a comprehensive worldwide casting search, Andrew Garfield has been chosen to portray Peter Parker when Spider-Man swings back onto the screen in 3D on July 3, 2012.  The new film will begin production in early December directed by Marc Webb from a screenplay by James Vanderbilt.  Laura Ziskin and Avi Arad will produce the film from Columbia Pictures and Marvel Studios.

Today’s confirmation culminates what has been one of the most eagerly anticipated casting announcements in recent memory. Bloggers, pop culture speculators, and everyday fans have pored over and analyzed every conceivable online rumor in an attempt to discover the identity of the next actor to play Peter Parker. Garfield will immediately begin preparing for the coveted role.

The Spider-Man franchise is one of the most successful in film history and the three previous motion pictures have collectively grossed more than $2.5 billion in worldwide box office.

On selecting Garfield, director Marc Webb said, “Though his name may be new to many, those who know this young actor’s work understand his extraordinary talents. He has a rare combination of intelligence, wit, and humanity. Mark my words, you will love Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker.”

Commenting on the announcement, Amy Pascal, co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Matt Tolmach, President of Columbia Pictures said, “Spider-Man is a classic superhero -- a young man who balances his responsibility to serve humanity and crush evil with the shyness and normalcy of someone struggling to find himself. The role demands an extraordinary actor. You need someone who can magically transform himself from Peter Parker into Spider-Man. An actor who will  depict the vulnerability of youth and the strength and confidence of a legendary figure at the same moment. We have found that actor in Andrew Garfield. From the first time we saw him in the upcoming film The Social Network, to his glorious screen test, which floored all of us, we knew that we had found our new Peter Parker.”

Producer Avi Arad added, “I’m incredibly excited about Andrew Garfield. In the Spider-Man tradition, we were looking for a smart, sensitive, and cool new Peter Parker who can inspire us and make us laugh, cry, and cheer. We believe we have found the perfect choice to take on this role and lead us into the future.”

Producer Laura Ziskin said, “We are thrilled to have Andrew Garfield for this new incarnation of Spider-Man under Marc Webb’s direction.  We were fortunate enough to meet with a group of fantastically talented young men.  In the end, we all agreed that in addition to being an extraordinary actor, Andrew had the right mix of humor, youth, and pathos, along with an underlying sense of strength and power necessary to bring Peter Parker and Spider-Man to life on screen.”

Garfield is fast becoming one of the most respected and sought-after young actors working in the industry today. In a short career, spanning only five years, he has already been directed by, and starred alongside, some of the greatest names and received a BAFTA for a role that won him international praise.

Garfield most recently worked with director David Fincher on the upcoming film The Social Network.  He previously starred for Spike Jonze on his robot love story I’m Here, which premiered at Sundance this year.  He plays the lead male opposite Keira Knightley and Carey Mulligan in Mark Romanek’s Never Let Me Go, due for release later this year.

Other notable screen credits include Terry Gilliam's The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus playing opposite Christopher Plummer, Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, Jude Law and the late Heath Ledger, Robert Redford’s Lions For Lambs, where he starred alongside Redford, Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep; Revolution Films’ “Red Riding Trilogy – 1974” directed by Julian Jarrold, where he lead a stellar cast including Rebecca Hall and David Morrissey, and his unforgettable portrayal of a young ex-con in John Crowley’s “Boy A,” for which he earned the best actor BAFTA in 2008.

Garfield’s career began in theatre and in 2006 his performances in “Beautiful Thing” (Sound Space/Kit Productions), “The Overwhelming,” and “Burn / Chatroom / Citizenship” (Royal National Theatre) won him the Milton Shulman Award for Outstanding Newcomer at the Evening Standard awards and the Jack Tinker Award for Most Promising Newcomer at the Critics Circle Theatre Awards.  Other notable theatre credits include “Romeo and Juliet” (Manchester Royal Exchange) and “Kes” (Manchester Royal Exchange), for which he received the Most Promising Newcomer Award at the Manchester Evening News Awards 2004.

Footage of the announcement can be found here.

For now, though, let's hear what you think.  How's Garfield grab you for Spider-Man?

We'll find out for sure when "Spider-Man" hits theaters in 2012.

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