Meet Your Star Warriors: Adam Driver
Honestly, I was not very interested in a new Star Wars film, let alone a new trilogy, let alone one helmed by J.J. Abrams - a guy I, like many of you, find it increasingly difficult to defend. I'm sure a lot of people felt this way after that horrendous experience known as "the prequels," that thing we'd all like to believe was a collective nightmare we shared, induced after eating some particularly bad hormone-injected crops or something. (Actually, I think that's the plot of a new M. Night Shyamalan movie.) And especially after Star Trek Into Darkness. To lift from Home Alone: J.J., your girlfriend - woof.
But here's how you get cynical, disillusioned people like us interested in J.J. Abrams' new Star Wars movie: an amazing cast. As soon as Adam Driver was confirmed as the villain (or a villain, perhaps?), my ticket was sold. I'll be there, and while I'll still be skeptical, I'll rest easier knowing some things: Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman did not write this script, and the cast is filled with rad people with serious acting chops who will either make a good script greater, or make an okay script pretty good, or at the very least, entertaining.
For those of you who are not very familiar with Adam Driver and why he's enough to guarantee I subject my butt to three hours of numbness, first I ask: where the hell have you been? But it's okay, I understand. Maybe you don't have HBO because cable isn't that cheap or you don't have someone to let you borrow their HBOGo password. Adam Driver plays Adam Sackler, the boyfriend of Lena Dunham's Hannah on Girls, which is probably my (current) favorite show on television. With his tall, lanky and awkward presence and strange handsomeness, he is one of the best things about a show that has so many great things. Girls is a show that features complex characters, and Adam is indeed exceedingly complex - Driver allows us to empathize with a character who is often remote and enigmatic, using his facial expressions and almost alien vocal inflections to bring surprising depth of character. What could be quirk becomes endless shades of humanity and, often, hilarity. Driver has so much range in his odd duck character, but he often comes alive the most when he's angry - we're still able to see a pained, tormented, wounded person showing through the anger, which is perhaps why he'd make such a good villain.
Prior to Girls, you may have seen him in a supporting role in the HBO movie You Don't Know Jack, in which Al Pacino played Dr. Jack Kevorkian, or in a minor role in J. Edgar with Leonardo DiCaprio. Driver's background is in theatre, though: after spending some time in the Marine corps, he studied at Juilliard and performed in various plays, including the acclaimed Angels in America, in which he played the part of Louis.
You might have also seen him in indies like Gayby and Frances Ha, or as Samuel Beckwith, AKA "telegraph operator who gets to share a brief but meaningful exchange with President Lincoln," in Lincoln. More recently, he had a memorable supporting role in Inside Llewyn Davis as Al Cody, the country singer who records the track "Please Mr. Kennedy" with Oscar Isaac and Justin Timberlake's characters. Isaac will be joining Driver in the new Star Wars film, which should probably be titled Inside Luke Skywalker. Also: insert OUTER. SPACE. joke here.
Driver's interesting presence has been noticed by plenty, and he's got several projects lined up: you can see him in Jeff Nichols' upcoming movie, Midnight Special, and he'll star in Martin Scorsese's Silence with Andrew Garfield. And just think: a few years ago, we had no idea who Adam Driver was.
All we know about his role in the new Star Wars film right now is that he's playing a bad guy, and all I know is that I'm okay with this as long as they don't put a big helmet over his beautiful, goofy head. But here's something interesting to think about: given his lanky presence and his physical abilities, it's possible that his bad guy character could be more alien than human. I'd also like to imagine a bad guy with powers that rival a Jedi's, with a story that mirrors a young Jedi coming into his abilities. Imagine: Driver's character realizes the potential of his powers, but due to circumstance of upbringing, his powers are used for evil - only he doesn't quite see it that way, which sounds like a pretty traditional Star Wars concept. Driver has the ability to make us empathize with someone even when we don't quite agree with them, and some of the best villains are those we are able to empathize with. That's the kind of bad guy I'd like to see him play.