IN THE DRIVER SEAT

Adam Driver is a fan of ac­tors keep­ing it real, so to play Pater­son’s po­etic bus driver he went out and got his bus driver’s li­cense

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES - JAKE COYLE

dam 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 ex­cru­ci­at­ing.

“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 ev­ery­one 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 stuntsound­ing 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 four months.”

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 in Pater­son.

He plays Pater­son, a bus driver and poet. N.J. 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 Pater­son’s du­al­ity.

He gri­maces when­ever he thinks he sounds too much like an ac­tor and blanches when the phrase “col­lab­o­ra­tive 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 feel­ings about mak­ing art, he has al­ready as­sem­bled a rich and var­ied gallery of artist por­traits: the poet of Pater­son, his as­pir­ing film­maker in Noah Baum­bach’s While We’re Young, an in­trepid pho­tog­ra­pher in Tracks, a cow­boy hat-wear­ing folk singer in the Coen broth­ers’ In­side Llewyn Davis, his Broad­way ac­tor on Girls.

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.

More re­cently he 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 Lo­gan 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 be­yond 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 peace out.”

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