Adam Driver Says He Memorizes ‘SNL’ Cue Cards: ‘I Don’t Like It When You Can Tell Someone’s Reading’

The “Ferrari” star hosted the NBC comedy series for the fourth time last month

Adam Driver with Heidi Gardner and Mikey Day on "Saturday Night Live" (Credit: Will Heath/NBC)
Adam Driver with Heidi Gardner and Mikey Day on "Saturday Night Live" (Credit: Will Heath/NBC)

Adam Driver is known for going above and beyond in his acting process — and that includes in his prep work for hosting “Saturday Night Live.”

The Oscar-nominated “Ferrari” actor hosted NBC’s sketch comedy program for the fourth time on Dec. 9. Sitting on the “Smartless” podcast Monday with hosts Sean Hayes, Jason Bateman and Will Arnett, he revealed that he memorizes all the cue cards before filming the live sketches in Studio 8H.

“I don’t like it when you can tell someone’s reading,” he admitted.

Bateman was the first cohost to note that it didn’t appear Driver utilized the cue cards the way other guests of “SNL” might. While the lightning speed of the long-running live series might come easily for cast members, celebrity hosts who come in for one whirlwind week are afforded the backup of having the script spelled out in front of them. Viewers at home can often see little peeks off camera to make sure they’re keeping everything straight.

But not Driver.

“Did you try to commit certain lines to memory so you can perform them well?” Bateman asked.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Driver enthused. “You know, because I don’t like it usually when you can kind of tell that someone’s reading the cards. It kind of destroys the illusion. And when they’re well written, it’s easy to memorize … It’s not that difficult.”

“They hate it when you don’t read the cards though,” Bateman joked.

Hayes, meanwhile, was impressed by Driver’s ability to do the series at all, especially considering he’s an “introverted person.”

“Not knowing you at all, you seem to be a very kind, sweet, down-to-earth, intelligent-yet-introverted person. So what is it like doing something like ‘Saturday Night Live,’ which is the opposite of being introverted?” Hayes asked. “It’s just going balls-out. Is it scary, and that’s why you wanted to do it, or is it just another job?”

Driver compared hosting “SNL” to doing theater — an acting skillset that he’s rather seasoned in, as well. (He was nominated at the 2019 Tony Awards for Best Actor in a Play after starring in the revival of “Burn This” opposite Keri Russell.)

“It’s kind of theater, in a way, that’s what I at least try to remind myself,” he said. “It’s terrifying, but I enjoy how it feels like theater on film. I like those old school plays on tape that they used to do live — Richard Burton, you know, doing ‘Camelot.’ That’s the only modern-day equivalent of a show that does that. And I really enjoy the pressure.”

He added that the first time he hosted in 2016, “I thought I was going to pass out. But this time, I felt at ease. And I enjoy the pressure and I like it when there’s a lot to do, when the pressure’s on and there’s a lot of text and a lot of moving pieces and a lot of things falling apart. I actually kind of enjoy it.”

Listen to Driver’s full “Smartless” interview here.

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