“Directors, always directors. It’s a director’s medium, and fortunately I’ve been lucky to work on different kinds, all sizes of movies, and there are different values in both,” says Adam Driver about what initially attracts him to film projects. Indeed he has worked with a wide range of filmmakers, from Steven Spielberg (“Lincoln”), to the Coen brothers (“Inside Llewyn Davis”) and now another pair of unique, renowned auteurs: in December he stars in “Paterson” by indie darling Jim Jarmusch and “Silence” by the legendary Martin Scorsese.
In “Paterson” Driver plays the title character, a bus driver and poet in Paterson, New Jersey, who happens to share the name of his city. The film is set during one week of his life as he balances his work and his marriage with his creative inner life. Driver admired the film’s “great writing. It’s so clear, and oddly rare to play a character where their main action is to take in everybody around them. I love playing those scenes in movies where you just get to listen.”
As for writer-director Jarmusch, who previously helmed films including “Ghost Dog” (1999), “Coffee and Cigarettes” (2003) and “Only Lovers Left Alive” (2013), “He’s a true artist,” Driver says, “and the commercial parts of it he has a very strong allergy to, which I find very inspiring … It always seems criminal that more people don’t know his movies because they’re so brilliant. He himself would always joke on set, ‘We really have to get this right because dozens of people watch my movies.'”
In “Silence” Driver plays Father Francisco Garrpe, a Jesuit priest from Portugal who searches for his missing mentor in Japan in the 17th century. It’s about a crisis of faith, and “In a way it’s an analogy for any kind of commitment to something you believe in,” Driver explains. “It’s not as simple as making the commitment. It’s all filled with doubt, insecurity and questioning, and that’s fine — there should be forgiveness in that. That’s a healthy part of being committed to anything, whether it’s marriage, or being an actor or a writer, or a father or mother.”
Driver found that director Scorsese was himself on a continual journey of searching and questioning. “He’s generous with his anxiety,” Driver says, “that it’s fine to let people know you’re confused about what the story is or the best way to capture it.” Watching a filmmaker of his stature wrestle with uncertainty was “comforting” in one sense: “Oh good, you never figure it out, you never come to any sort of peace or resolution about it. It just kind of happens.” On the other hand, “it’s also terrifying because, God, you never figure it out?”
As in the search for God in “Silence,” sometimes the work of an artist offers more questions than answers.
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