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Adam Driver in Paterson

Adam Driver: 'I am always proud to be an American'

The ex-marine, 'Girls' star and man with the glossiest hair in the 'Star Wars' galaxy talks about his new film 'Paterson'

Written by
Sonya Barber

Adam Driver rose to fame playing Lena Dunham’s complicated but swoonworthy boyfriend in ‘Girls’, and his unconventional sex symbol status – and career – has been soaring ever since. Something about the intense, troubled but fundamentally decent characters he often plays has people captivated. (Okay, me too, I admit it.) I’ve liked him in all his roles, even as the goth villain in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ (who doesn’t love a bad boy?). In his latest film, ‘Paterson’, directed by Jim Jarmusch, Driver plays a bus-driving poet and loving husband – a role which will do nothing to crush the crushes of his ever-growing fanbase.

Filming has finished on the final season of 'Girls'. Have you got a theory about why it's so popular?
‘I think it was the three-dimensional female characters and the mess around it. Whether you like Lena’s writing or not, she is great in telling a story in her voice.’

'Girls' captured the new generation of millennial feminism. Do you call yourself a feminist?
‘No. Not because I don’t think that the cause is just, I’m just not into labelling or calling myself anything.’

Lena Dunham has called out sexism in the industry, pointing out that you've had major roles after 'Girls', whereas the female actors haven't. What do you think about that?
‘I definitely think that the material women are given often isn’t three-dimensional at all and it’s very much in support of a man. The opportunities are just not there. Guys can be messy and get a more broad range of things to play.'

Adam Driver in Paterson

Why did you want to make 'Paterson'?
'I was a fan of Jim Jarmusch’s work. I said yes before I read the script. At our first meeting I said to him: “Whatever it is, I’m into it.”’

Was he one of your teen film heroes?
‘Yes! When I was younger, local video stores were my access to the world outside of the small town I was raised in: I watched a lot of movies.’

So you identified with small-town life in the movie?
‘Yes. There’s a feeling that you know everyone’s business. I got that right away. And I understood the idea of civic pride. I was raised in Mishawaka, Indiana. No one famous was from there. I am very glad that I was raised there, though, it’s an interesting place full of characters.’

Do you feel proud to be American right now?
‘I am always proud to be an American. At the moment it is challenging politically. But I have strong faith that things will resolve themselves for the better. I fucking hope so.’ [Editor’s note: we spoke to Adam before the US election.]

You served in the marines. Why did you sign up?
‘Because September 11 happened. I felt like a lot of people my age wanted retribution. Then when I got in, it turned into not being about a moral crusade but about the people in my platoon.’

Your character is a poet who's anti-technology. You are too. What's your beef with the internet?
‘For some people it totally works. But I think – and I don’t know shit about shit – it creates a culture of immediate gratification, having instant access to everything. Plus, I’m not interested in sharing my life. It would be the most boring thing!’ 

'Paterson' is in UK cinemas now.

Read our review of 'Paterson'

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Film
  • Drama

The dependably distinctive and rewarding Jim Jarmusch returns with a lovely, characteristically episodic fable about the fragile, fruitful and just occasionally fraught relationship between creativity and everyday life. 

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