Kate Ward
July 23, 2011 AT 04:15 PM EDT

As Andrew Garfield told EW’s Jess Cagle in EW’s VIP lounge Friday, Spider-Man meant a lot to the actor when he was growing up. So it’s fitting that Garfield showed up to Sony’s panel Friday dressed as a fan — before removing his mask and revealing himself as the star of the upcoming gritty reboot. Appearing in front of the crowd in a low-grade Spidey costume, Garfield told the group of attendees, “This has always been a dream of mine,” and then revealed his true identity. The fun moment was followed by a passionate monologue from the British actor about his fondness for the superhero: “I needed Spidey in my life when I was a kid. And he gave me hope. In every comic I read, he was living out my and every skinny boy’s fantasy of being stronger, of being free of the body I was born into, and that swinging sensation of flight.” Continued Garfield, “He inspired me to be stronger .. he reassured me that by doing the right thing, it’s worth it. It’s worth the trouble, it’s worth the pain.”

He was right to tell the crowd, “Here I am as a fan.” A geek heartthrob is born?

Read more:

Entertainment Geekly‘s 2011 Comic-Con coverage

Comic-Con 2011: ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ cast on reboot, Dr. Lizard, and cheeseburgers

Comic-Con 2011: ‘Total Recall’ and ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ footage premiered at Sony panel

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