A Decade of Driver: How Kylo Ren Fulfilled His Destiny and Became One of the Best Actors in Hollywood
So Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker wraps up Kylo Ren’s story interestingly. While the character might have met an anti-climatic end, the actor who plays him appears to be destined for much more. Adam Driver has gone from Girls and a big-budget franchise to a slew of other impressive projects. Big money is on him getting an Academy Award nomination for his role in Marriage Story this year (he already has a Golden Globe nomination). Driver’s stock has risen exponentially in the past few years, probably because when this guy acts, it feels like he’s just being himself. Darth Vader’s angsty grandson who can’t make a lightsaber to save his life (literally) is one of the best actors in Hollywood. Including his turn to the dark side, the following list contains some of the Marine-turned-theater-junkie’s most prominent roles up until now.
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Lev in 'Frances Ha' (2012)
Adam Driver’s first collaboration with Marriage Story director Noah Baumbach was in Frances Ha. Driver plays the New Yorker Lev. It’s a role lacking a certain amount of depth (he’s only on screen for about six minutes) as it orbits around the endearing performance of Greta Gerwig; however, his scenes are refreshing in their simplicity (and this role needed to happen for Marriage Story to occur).
Al Cody in 'Inside Llewyn Davis' (2013)
In the same way that Noah Baumbach and Adam Driver's working relationship grew after Frances Ha, hopefully, Driver works with the Coen brothers again after Inside Llewyn Davis. In that movie, as Al Cody, Driver said “outer space” a lot. Among the likes of other big names like John Goodman, Carey Mulligan, and Justin Timberlake, Driver’s character meets Oscar Isaac’s titular Davis as the latter tries to make it as a folk singer.
Kylo Ren in 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' (2015)
The role that brought Driver to mainstream audiences is Darth Vader for a new generation. When we first see Kylo Ren with the mask, he’s just a bad guy. Once that mask comes off, we are introduced to the most complex character in the Star Wars sequels. Driver brought depth to a role that could’ve easily been written off as a one-dimensional, even robotic performance. As the sequels continued, their quality is inconsistent but Driver’s work is not.
Garupe in 'Silence' (2016)
Working with Martin Scorsese is a huge upgrade for any actor. Silence may not have been Scorsese's most commercially successful film but a passion project of his and it shows. Driver plays one of the priests who travel to Japan and spread Catholicism, alongside Andrew Garfield and Liam Neeson—arguably out-acting both of those heavyweights.
Paterson in 'Paterson' (2016)
In Paterson, Driver plays a humble bus driver who loves poetry. It’s probably one of the most realistic films ever made; Paterson just lives. The film shows us how each day is full of both victory and defeat (in its smallest forms) and is as significant as anything you can imagine on a larger scale. We don’t usually want to see reality on screen because cinema is typically about escapism; however, Paterson is a loving reminder that even the mundane can be cinematic.
Sevier in 'Midnight Special' (2016)
At this point in Driver’s career, it became clear that he had good taste when it came to directors. Midnight Special is directed by Jeff Nichols. Fresh off the masterpiece Mud, Nichols cast Driver as NSA communications analyst Paul Sevier, who gets tangled up in the pursuit of a young boy with special powers. The film is entertaining, imaginative, and poignant; it's Star Wars without the galaxy far, far away.
Clyde Logan in 'Logan Lucky' (2017)
Steven Soderbergh's backwoods version of Ocean’s Eleven sees Driver play the brother of Channing Tatum’s Jimmy Logan. The two brothers set out to rob a NASCAR race and prove their family isn’t cursed with bad luck. Their code word “cauliflower” means the game is afoot. To call Driver’s character charming and hilarious would be an understatement; he’s easily one of the funniest characters in a film full of belly laughs.
Flip Zimmerman in 'BlacKkKlansman' (2018)
Driver gained his first Oscar nomination for his role as Flip Zimmerman, the white police officer who helped Ron Stallworth infiltrate a Colorado chapter of the KKK in the '70s, in this Spike Lee joint. Driver’s performance and perspective are some of the reasons Lee’s loosely adapted film works so well.
Daniel Jones in 'The Report' (2019)
Like in BlacKkKlansman, Driver plays a historical figure in 2019’s The Report. He played Daniel J. Jones, the Senate employee who led an investigation into the CIA’s torture tactics after 9/11. Its story, populated by a star-studded cast, is grounded by Driver, who plays a character just doing what he does best in real life: his job.
Charlie in 'Marriage Story' (2019)
In addition to The Report and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Driver’s third most notable role (do we really want to count The Dead Don't Die?) in 2019 is that of Charlie in Marriage Story. His work here is the climax of the Driver decade; it’s intense, complex, and simple (this cocktail being Driver’s specialty). As a dad dealing with the hostility of divorce, Driver (along with Scarlett Johansson) never seems right or wrong. With a Golden Globe nomination already in the books for his performance, he appears a shoo-in for an Oscar nomination as well.