Adam Driver Talks ‘Patterson’, Preparing for a Role and Second-Guessing His Work
“I love the idea of doing a lot of takes because there’s so many different ways that you can play scenes” – Adam Driver
Millions of Star Wars fans recognize Adam Driver as the villainous Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens, many are already aware of Adam Driver’s acting work from the more grounded work he has starred in since 2011’s J. Edgar. Those roles have given Driver a reputation for versatility as an actor. In a conversation for Interview magazine with filmmaker Noah Baumbach (who worked with Driver on Frances Ha and While We’re Young), Driver spoke about his commitment to performing his best in every role, even to the point where he doubts his own work.
Driver admits to Baumbach that he frequently second-guesses his work on screen because unlike theater he doesn’t get the opportunity to do something over again once shooting has wrapped for the day. He explains, “I definitely let it get to me if it doesn’t go well. But what I like about your sets is that we get so many chances to do it again and again. I love the idea of doing a lot of takes because there’s so many different ways that you can play scenes. And we have clear boundaries, where the script is the script, you know? Since I came from a theater background, that made so much sense to me; that you thought a lot about these words and they’re very important. I mean, you don’t say this, but these are the words. These are the boundaries that you can play in. And the meaning of them is infinite. So I feel less anxious I guess when I leave your sets. But oftentimes I leave a set and there are so many different ways to have played a scene that I think of later, when I’m more relaxed and not distracted. I go through a mourning period, like, “‘Oh, God, we’ll never get to go back and do it again.'”
Nonetheless, Driver doesn’t want to give the impression that he’s rigid about his work. He says, “I just worked on this set where the atmosphere was playful the entire time, and I’m not used to that—where you have to talk to the other actors in between takes or go hangout socially, which I thought would throw me off—but it turned out I liked that. So I don’t really come in with a set way of working, I guess. I always feel out the vibe. Like, ‘I’m going to adapt to what this is.’ There’s not, like, a mood that I prefer—other than people showing up and on time, probably.”
So what does Driver require before he’s ready to shoot a scene? He explains that he needs to feel fully prepared to tackle the role.”The only thing I know that makes me feel comfortable is to know as much as I can. Not like what the shots are going to be, but knowing enough about my character that I can forget those things. And more specifically, my lines. I have to know my lines. I have to know something really well, so I can forget it when we’re doing it. And there is comfort in knowing, ‘Okay, there’s not another stone that I could have overturned.'”