Actor Adam Driver (“Ferrari”) famously avoided watching back his own performances in the past, thanks to his perfectionism, as he detailed on the Max interview show and podcast “Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace?”
“It’s painful watching a performance and seeing that, knowing that it’s film and it’s forever and it’s permanent, and you see a mistake that you wish you could have [fixed], and you can’t,” Driver said. “I drive everybody around me crazy, asking them to explain my performance.”
But, he noted, he started watching his own acting in the past couple of years.
“I just decided to do it,” Driver said. “And I realize that you also have to defend your performance a little bit. Even when it’s coming together, you still have — at least the people that I’ve worked with have given me a lot of license to have an opinion about moments that I want to be in the movie.”
Wallace praised the actor’s performance in “Ferrari,” but Driver said he hasn’t had many experiences just sitting back and thinking that he’d done a good job.
“I always think, if it could just be a little bit, like, this word could be just a little bit clearer,” Driver said.
While he’s now watching his own films, Driver said that “Marriage Story” hasn’t been one of them. One of the reasons is his own feelings about his parents splitting up.
“That movie in particular, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to watch,” Driver said. “There’s only a couple of times where I haven’t had total– not control, I never lose control. You’re always watching yourself. Because there’s a technical part to filmmaking.”
But, after watching an emotional clip from the film as part of the show, he told Wallace, “Those scenes in particular were really difficult to shoot, because it just brings up all this s–t that you don’t solve at all by doing a scene.”
Having some distance and kids of his own, though, Driver said he’s able to give his own father more of a break than he did at the time.
“I was the exact age that the kid is in this movie when my parents got divorced,” Driver said. “And I remember it very vividly, and was thinking about it a lot during this, because I thought that if I was in that position, I would do everything I possibly could to get my kids back.”
Despite his reservations, Driver said, “I think your job is to go there.” He added, “It’s a document that lasts forever that we’re asking people to watch. And because it’s forever, I feel like we kind of have a responsibility to give a part of yourself in making it. And the minute that you keep yourself from the director, or you keep yourself away from the other actors, then it doesn’t do the movie any good. Why not try to make it as deep as possible and really try to mine whatever scar that you’re still harboring for the sake of the film?”
Wallace also shared a scene from “Girls” with Driver, who noted that he hadn’t gone back to watch that since it was filmed, either. Driver shared that the scene was the same location that he first found out JJ Abrams wanted to talk to him about being in the Star Wars franchise.
“I took it really seriously and thought about it a lot, and was very on the fence about– I was aware that it was a great opportunity, and I didn’t want to be in it and be bad,” Driver said. “Like, a lot of people were going to watch it. I was a fan of those movies. I didn’t know what the script was — it was very secretive. So I just didn’t know if I could play the part.”
He added, “JJ described it to me, but not until you see it, I can’t — it’s hard for me to play characters where the writing doesn’t help you, because I didn’t know what the script was. So I was worried about it.”
People still come up to Driver and remind him about Kylo Ren killing Han Solo in “The Force Awakens,” he said.
“Somebody reminds me about that every day,” he initially quipped, before correcting himself and saying, “Not every day, but yeah, it used to be more. But now it’s probably once a month, someone will let me know that I killed Han Solo.”
He noted that he wasn’t focused on that while on set, but felt the impact when he watched the film at the premiere.
“No one knew that that was going to happen, and here I was, surrounded by hundreds of people that were going to be seeing it for the first time, and then could point me out in the crowd,” Driver said. “And I thought they were going to be like, ‘There he is, get him.’”
Thankfully, Driver noted, the response was fine. But he also pointed out how filming the murder of Han Solo doesn’t come across the same way as watching it on screen.
“I remember shooting that day, and it didn’t feel like that at all, obviously,” Driver said. “John Williams wasn’t playing in the background.”
But he praised Harrison Ford for bringing the emotion to it, including talking about the moment where Ford touches Driver’s face — and what that meant in the context of Kylo Ren being Han Solo’s son.
“We talked a lot about, well you’re watching someone transition into something else. You know, he’s obviously transitioning into death,” Driver said. “But for Kylo Ren, you’re watching him try to kill that part of his life and transition into the worst version of himself.”
In his interview with Wallace, Driver also credited watching movies with being his “access to diversity.”
“Only through films, suddenly through a culture that was not mine, the more specific those movies were, somehow the more personal they were to me,” Driver said.
He said that he aims to create that same feeling for viewers by bringing a character from a different time, place and culture, who “somehow is articulating emotion that is very personal to you.” He added with a laugh, “And if it doesn’t do that, it’s a total failure, and it’s awful.”