Iconic Roles is a look at some of the best performances in film and television by actors and actresses.
Thanks to his imposing physique and peculiar acting style, Adam Driver is arguably the face of Hollywood’s new wave of actors. The 39-year-old actor landed his breakout role in the Girls television series, but thanks to Star Wars reached worldwide popularity. His feature debut was in 2011’s J. Edgar, which starred Leonardo DiCaprio.
Academy Award-nominated artists Noah Baumbach and Driver will join forces once more for a promising drama in White Noise. The pair already collaborated four times in the past in 2013’s Frances Ha, 2015’s While We’re Young, 2017’s The Meyerowitz Stories, and 2019’s Marriage Story. While the movie will officially debut on Netflix at the end of the week, Driver has already scored a Golden Globe nomination as Best Actor for his work as Prof. Jack Gladney.
Here’s a list of the best Adam Driver movies.
Detective Philip Zimmerman in BlacKkKlansman (2018)
BlacKkKlansman is the story of a black officer (John David Washington) who infiltrates the Ku Klux Klan by making a series of phone calls in the seventies. “Flip” Zimmerman steps up to go in person at the KKK meetings to work undercover for his fellow detective. While the topic is as serious as possible, director Spike Lee gave a light tone to the movie, which features plenty of funny moments. Thanks to his efforts, Driver landed his first Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor, won by Mahershala Ali for Green Book that year. BlacKkKlansman is considered one of the best Spike Lee-directed films and also ranks among the best Adam Driver movies.
Kylo Ren in the Star Wars sequel trilogy (2015-2019)
Driver landed his most important role to date when he was called to portray the leader of the Knights of Ren in 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The son of Han Solo and Leia Skywalker is a complex character who evolves throughout the trilogy. Kylo Ren allowed Driver to showcase the range of his actorial skills as the commander of the First Order. Overall, the trilogy grossed over $4.450 billion at the box office, and while it had mixed reactions from fans and critics alike — especially Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi –, generally everyone praised Driver’s performance. In addition to the actors from the original Star Wars trilogy — Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford –, the news installments featured an ensemble cast that included Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac, among others.
Charlie Barber in Marriage Story (2019)
Arguably, Marriage Story is the best Adam Driver movie to date. In his fourth collaboration with Baumbach, Driver portrayed a man going through a rough divorce after his marriage with his wife (Scarlett Johansson) fell apart. Their breakup seems friendly until a cold-hearted lawyer (Laura Dern) starts working on their case. Both leading actors were nominated as Best Actor and Actress, respectively, at the Oscars, but ultimately Dern was the only cast member to take home an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress. Marriage Story also starred Alan Alda, Ray Liotta, Julie Hagerty, and Merritt Wever.
Henry McHenry in Annette (2021)
A magistral Driver led the cast of Leos Carax’s musical for all of its 139 minutes. Driver’s Henry McHenry is a comedian who lost his ability to make people laugh, but actually dries joy from the watchers as the story proceeds, drawing certain comparisons to Joaquin Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck. Annette is arguably Driver’s most mature and complete performance to date, showcasing a wide array of emotions and overcoming his fellow cast members thanks to his statuary physique, including the tiny Marion Cotillard.
Maurizio Gucci in House of Gucci (2021)
In 2021, Driver worked with Ridley Scott on back-to-back movies, including a biopic on the assassination of the head of the Gucci fashion house, Maurizio Gucci. Driver towered upon his fellow cast members, including an unrecognizable Jared Leto as Paolo Gucci. Thanks to its $153 million gross, House of Gucci is the highest box-office success featuring Driver in a leading part, excluding the Star Wars sequel trilogy (and 2012’s Lincoln, where Driver had a minor role). The House of Gucci cast also featured Lady Gaga, Jeremy Irons, Salma Hayek, and Al Pacino, among others.