In less than a decade, Adam Driver has proven himself to be one of the most talented and versatile actors of his generation. While arguably receiving a major boost in his public profile since he was cast as Kylo Ren, also known as Ben Solo, in the current sequel trilogy of Star Wars films, Driver has nonetheless racked up quite the impressive filmography in his short years in the business.
Adam Driver has shown time and again that he has what it takes to make it on the screens both big and small. Whether comedy, drama, melodrama, period drama, or science fiction, he is up for any challenge and routinely delivers performances that elevate whatever work they're in.
Let's take a look back at some of his best roles to date.
8 Lev Shapiro (Frances Ha)
One of Driver's best comedic performances is also one of his first appearances in a niche, but incredibly well-received independent film. The 2012 Greta Gerwig-Noah Baumbach film Frances Ha chronicles the life of a struggling millennial artist and the ways she's forced to confront her stunted adulthood and all of her friends maturing faster than she has, following graduation.
Along the way, Frances meets, briefly dates, and eventually shares an apartment with Driver's Lev Shapiro, a horribly spoiled and pretentious photographer who turns out to be something of a lothario. Lev doesn't get much time in the film, but Driver's sardonic delivery makes each and every line he gets come alive with color in the black and white film.
7 Garupe (Silence)
Due to his almost infamous intensity while filming the Star Wars series, Driver has inadvertently acquired a reputation for being something of a method actor. Although he has denied this claim, his willingness to go to any extent for a role is perhaps clearest when it comes to his performance in Martin Scorcese's 2016 crisis of faith film Silence.
In order to prepare for the role of Francisco Garupe, a Jesuit priest in the 1600s, Driver reportedly lost 50 pounds in a short period of time, and studied with Jesuit scholars alongside his costar, Andrew Garfield, fully committing to the requirements of the role's time period and aesthetic.
6 Phillip Altman (This Is Where I Leave You)
Another one of Driver's more comedic turns comes in the form of yet another wonderfully spoiled, childish, lothario type. The 2014 film This Is Where I Leave You follows the Altman family, who are forced to adjust to their new normal in the wake of their father's recent passing. While sitting shiva, the disparate siblings reconnect with one another, all thanks to a comedy of errors.
Driver's Phillip Altman is the baby of the family, hopelessly messed up and dating his current therapist. He gleefully chews all the scenery in any moment he can steal the spotlight away from some of the family dramedy's heavier moments, particularly shining in an episode that finds him and his brothers getting high in their childhood temple.
5 Clyde Logan (Logan Lucky)
Over the course of his brief career, Adam Driver has been able to work with some truly impressive talents, including some of the best directors in the business. One of his most recent films, the 2017 heist comedy Logan Lucky, allowed him to work with the true master of heist films, Steven Soderbergh.
Although ostensibly nothing at all like the Ocean's franchise that made Soderbergh such a popular household name, Logan Lucky is a truly bizarre riot from start to finish that allows Driver to show yet more of his comedic talents. As the down on his luck Clyde Logan, a disabled bar owner who is recruited into a heist scheme, Driver leans heavily into the southern drawl and slow, lingering humor, whereas his other roles required much more of a fast-paced wit.
4 Adam Sackler (Girls)
Regardless of how you feel about the polarizing HBO series Girls, or its creator Lena Dunham for that matter, there's no way of getting around the fact that the series put Driver on the map. Driver spent six long years as Adam Sackler, the brutally honest and occasionally creepy on-again, off-again love interest of Dunham's Hannah (and eventually Jemima Kirke's Jessa, too).
While the series was ostensibly a sitcom, and probably funny to some people, Driver's Adam Sackler frequently brought the series a level of gravitas it never knew how to find elsewhere. Of course, he was also prone to screaming fits, shirtless carpentry, and questionable bedroom behavior. But the dramatic moments truly allowed Driver's talents a space to shine.
3 Jude (Hungry Hearts)
One of the more unsettling items in Driver's short but impressive filmography is the 2014 independent film Hungry Hearts. The film is perhaps the absolute antithesis of the romantic comedy, following a couple who really have no business being together, and soon find themselves enmeshed in a war for the life of their child - a child neither of them was prepared for, resulting of a relationship neither of them wanted.
In Hungry Hearts, Driver plays Jude, a devoted husband and father who soon comes to find that the woman he thought he knew is harboring secrets and harming their newborn child. Forced to navigate the system of custody and health rights, Driver delivers a powerhouse performance of a young man at wit's end.
2 Flip Zimmerman (BlacKkKlansman)
At this point, it pretty much goes without saying that Adam Driver's work in the multiple Oscar-nominated 2018 film BlacKkKlansman is nothing if not exemplary. His own nomination for many awards, including the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, surely speaks to that. In BlacKkKlansman, based as it is on a true story, Driver plays the fictitious Detective Philip "Flip" Zimmerman, a Jewish Detective in the Colorado Springs Police Department who finds himself involved in a plot to infiltrate the local chapter of the KKK.
Driver's Zimmerman is forced, as a result, to question his own identity, in conversation with the identity of African American Detective Ron Stallworth - the real-life individual on whom the film's narrative is based. The film is unsettling - rightly so - but Driver's performance, along with John David Washington's, make it truly mandatory viewing.
1 Paterson (Paterson)
While Driver may have received the impressive distinction of an Academy Award nomination for his work as Flip Zimmerman in BlacKkKlansman, it is perhaps his quieter work in the slice of life 2016 film Paterson that is his most impressive to date. Hailing from director Jim Jarmusch, Paterson follows the life of Paterson, a bus driver, devoted husband, reluctant dog owner, and aspiring poet who just so happens to live in Paterson, New Jersey.
The film is quietly thoughtful, and Driver's performance is revelatory in its deceptive simplicity. There is nothing grand or flashy about the film, or about these characters. But Driver's commitment to portraying genuine human emotions in their most honest form shines brighter than ever in this film, which offers Driver the delightful opportunity to both act and narrate.