Leave Adam Driver Alone
‘This is anxiety, plain and simple — which, if you have anxiety, you know it’s anything but plain and simple’
Before you even start with me, let me be very clear that until Marriage Story, the only thing I knew about Adam Driver was that some internet cats looked like him. And Star Wars something something I don’t know. I stopped watching Star Wars back when there was exactly one Star Wars movie and it was called Star Wars. Net net: I am not carrying water for Adam Driver. Fine, I loved Marriage Story and I will argue with you about that at another time.
But to the task at hand: I watched the Fresh Air, “Adam Driver storms out…” debacle explode across Twitter and I did what every Twitter scrolling idiot does, I clicked. And I clicked and I clickety-clicked. I felt outrage! That’s what we do on The Twitter! I! Am! Very! Somehow! Outraged! About this thing! That has existed! In my awareness! For seven whole seconds! How dare a famous, rich, handsome (?) person of the arts behave like a spoiled child? Especially to, of all people, the appropriately-bespectacled (quirky, not too flashy) Terry Gross? What kind of monster, etc. etc. etc.
But look past the headlines and the huffy tweets to, say, this profile in the New Yorker from October and you will find…
The first time Driver saw himself in Girls, on Dunham’s laptop, he was mortified. “That’s when I was, like, I can’t watch myself in things. I certainly can’t watch this if we’re going to continue doing it,” he said. Many actors decline to watch themselves, but for Driver that reluctance amounts to a phobia. In 2013, he watched the Coen brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis, in which he has one scene, singing backup on a folk song called “Please Mr. Kennedy”: “I hated what I did.” He swore off his own movies, until he was obliged to sit through the premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, in 2015. “I just went totally cold,” he recalled, “because I knew the scene was coming up where I had to kill Han Solo, and people were, like, hyperventilating when the title came up, and I felt like I had to puke.”
The directors I spoke to sympathized with Driver’s aversion. “I think he’s rightly concerned that he would become conscious of himself in a way that would be harmful to his…