Adam Driver

Welcome to Life LessonsThis week, we celebrate the release of the new film House of Gucci by revisiting a few highlights from our December 2016 cover story with Adam Driver. In it, the actor speaks with his friend and frequent collaborator, the director Noah Baumbach, about the pursuit of the perfect take, lightsabers, and what he’s learned from Martin Scorsese. So sit back and grab a pen—you just might learn a thing or two.

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“I love the idea of doing a lot of takes because there’s so many different ways that you can play scenes. Oftentimes I leave a set and there are so many different ways to have played a scene that I think of later, when I’m more relaxed and not distracted. I go through a mourning period, like, ‘Oh, God, we’ll never get to go back and do it again.’”

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“I don’t really come in with a set way of working, I guess. I always feel out the vibe.”

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“The only thing I know that makes me feel comfortable is to know as much as I can. Not like what the shots are going to be, but knowing enough about my character that I can forget those things. And more specifically, my lines. I have to know my lines.”

Adam Driver

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“I have to know something really well, so I can forget it when we’re doing it. And there is comfort in knowing, ‘Okay, there’s not another stone that I could have overturned.’”

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“At the end of whatever we’re doing, I always feel like I want to go back and start over again because now I have a better sense of what it is. I feel that with everything. Like, if you’re doing like a long run of a play and you’re doing it seven shows a week, at the end of it, I want to go back and start from the beginning.”

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“I always found something strangely paternal about the director-actor relationship. Actors want so much approval.”

Adam Driver

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“I know my potential. If it’s not good, then I have to fight to make it better.”

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“I was dropping my wife off outside our building and I saw this mom holding a lightsaber—like, my lightsaber—and scarily accurate. Like, life-size. And she was handling it like she’s handled it a million times. She was juggling four kids who were all running in different directions, and she had three different bags and this lightsaber. Suddenly, the things that are great about this job came into full focus.”

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“I didn’t have much exposure to theater. I remember watching Total Recall [1990] very young, and Predator [1987]—a lot of Arnold Schwarzenegger movies.”

Adam Driver

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“Top five performances, I’d say maybe Bill Irwin in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?; Fiona Shaw in Happy Days at BAM; Judd Hirsch in Ordinary People [1980]; and pretty much everybody in Kramer vs. Kramer [1979].”

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“We were talking about rebellion; that’s especially relevant when it comes to Scorsese. You expect to go there and your impulse is to be, ‘Tell me what to do, and I’ll do it.’ He doesn’t want you to do that. He hires you for your ideas and wants you to take ownership of it. It’s really inspiring to work with someone who’s accomplished so much and is the tip of the pyramid and is still turning to you and wants your ideas and opinions.”

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