Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 7th 2017 Contents A20 life
guardian.co.tt Saturday, January 7, 2017
Adam Driver downshifts with
the pensive, poetic Paterson
Adam Driver prefers not to see the
films and TV shows he's in, a policy
that he grants he's taken a little far.
"I haven't seen Lincoln and I have,
like, the smallest part in Lincoln," Driver
says, chuckling. "It's not called Samuel
Beckwith the Telegraph Operator, it's
called ... Lincoln. I should watch it."
Even though he stars in two of the
better films of the year, Jim Jarmusch's
Paterson and Martin Scorsese's Silence,
Driver won't see either. It's too excru-
"I try not to because I've seen things
I've been in before and it's terrible," says
Driver. "I think it's bad and it's film and
film is forever. I want to change things.
I kind of drive myself nuts and every-
one around me nuts. It's mostly about
control. You really have no control, so
I try to surrender it."
Driver's attitude isn't uncommon
among performers, but it hints at what
distinguishes him as an actor. For him,
it's about the experience of building a
role, inhabiting it and then letting it go.
To play the poet-bus driver of Paterson,
he got a bus driver's license. To play a
Jesuit priest in 17th century Japan for
Silence, he lost 51 pounds.
"It does turn into stunt-sounding
because you have to talk about it so
much," Driver says. "But it is part of
your job, I think. Why not investigate
as much as you can in the short amount
of time that you have? It's only three or
With his laconic, lanky presence,
staccato line delivery and baritone
voice, Driver has quickly become one
of the most electric energies in movies,
and possibly the most arresting actor
of his generation. While better known
for the explosive volatility of his Kylo
Ren on The Force Awakens or on HBO's
Girls, Driver's underlying sweetness is
more on the surface in his pensive per-
formance in Paterson.
He plays Paterson, a bus driver and
poet in Paterson, NJ Jarmusch's film
is a quiet marvel, full of repetition and
patterns that steadily accrue quotidian
beauty. Paterson goes about his day-to-
day life while composing poetry in his
head or jotting it down in his notebook.
"Paterson listens" dots the script.
"A lot of acting is reacting," Driver
says. "You have to listen. It's the key
ingredient. For me, I love having a lot
of scenes where I don't have to talk and
I get to listen to other actors."
A former Marine raised in Mishawaka,
Indiana, Driver embodies much of Pat-
erson's duality. He grimaces whenever
he thinks he sounds too much like an ac-
tor and blanches when the phrase "col-
laborative spirit" accidentally escapes.
Twice during a friendly conversation at
a Manhattan hotel he stood up to close
a door to keep the chat private.
But while Driver shies away from
broadcasting his more thoughtful feel-
ings about making art, he has already
assembled a rich and varied gallery of
artist portraits: the poet of Paterson,
his aspiring filmmaker in Noah Baum-
bach's While We're Young, an intrep-
id photographer in Tracks, a cowboy
hat-wearing folk singer in the Coen
brothers' Inside Llewyn Davis, his
Broadway actor on Girls.
Driver also founded the nonprof-
it Arts in the Armed Forces , which
performs monologues and scenes for
members of the military and veterans.
Its stated mission is to bridge the divide
between "the world of the arts and the
world of practical action."
"I was very struck by the idea that he
understands both sides," Jarmusch said
of Driver while introducing the film at
the Cannes Film Festival. "He has ex-
perience in the military and he went to
Julliard. These two things are kind of
impressive to me because it's breaking
any kind of cliche of either thing."
So in awe of the filmmaker, Driver
agreed to do the film without reading
the script. Few experiences could ri-
val the educations offered by working
with Jarmusch or Scorsese, both ar-
dent aficionados of cinema with wide,
compulsive interests. They are, Driver
says, "oddly very similar even though
they have completely different ways of
"Jim's not trying to dumb anything
down to anyone or make it palatable,"
says Driver. "And he sticks to it. It's not
just something he says. He lives his life
by it. That's kind of a rare thing. Now
we're oversaturated with everything.
Everyone says everything so much. But
these people (Jarmusch and Scorsese)
live by their principles."
At 33, Driver has already worked with
a startling array of directors: Scorsese,
Jarmusch, Steven Spielberg, the Coen
brothers, Clint Eastwood, Jeff Nichols
and Baumbach. This fall he also shot
Steven Soderbergh's return to feature
filmmaking, Logan Lucky.
"He found a way to do it where it's on
his terms and he has the control that he
wants," says Driver. "His setups move
so fast that there's no momentum lost.
There's no time wasted, so it almost
feels like a protest."
Naturally, Driver won't be seeing Lo-
gan Lucky. He helped make it; the rest
is out of his hands.
"When I start thinking too much,
that's when things get stalled," he says.
"The making of it is really fun and be-
yond that it's not my responsibility. It's
not my story. It's the director's story.
I'm there just to do that part and then
Driver frowns. "That's a dumb way
of saying that."
Adam Driver in a scene from Paterson.
With his laconic, lanky
presence, staccato line
delivery and baritone
voice, Driver has quickly
become one of the
most electric energies
in movies, and possibly
the most arresting
actor of his generation.
While better known for
the explosive volatility
of his Kylo Ren on The
Force Awakens or on
HBO's Girls, Driver's
underlying sweetness is
more on the surface in
his pensive performance
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