It’s not often that a big American auteur takes home the Palme d’Or from the Cannes Film Festival, but this year might be the time with Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson, in which Adam Driver stars as a bus driver named Paterson who lives in Paterson, NJ. He enjoys a simple life with his wonderful wife and writes beautiful poetry on the side, with no intent of becoming established.
Given this year’s thespian-heavy jury, which includes Kirsten Dunst, Mads Mikkelsen, Donald Sutherland, Valeria Golino and Vanessa Paradis, they conceivably could be drawn to the unaffected, charming performances delivered by Driver and Iranian star Golshifteh Farahani in Paterson.
“I really like that he’s a creature of habit, and that allows him to do his art in private. I understood that,” Driver said of what struck him about the character. “His main objective in the movie is to listen, and that was really exciting to me.”
In our video interview (click the photo above to watch), Driver told us that boarding Paterson was a no-brainer given his adoration for Jarmusch’s work — some of the actor’s fave films being Down by Law and Stranger Than Paradise. “But also, if it’s a character that you haven’t typically played before, that’s a bonus on top of it,” he said.
Collaboration can be a word that’s overused by actors to describe their work with a director, but Driver clarifies: “Words (in the Paterson script) are kind of a guideline. But they’re so good, you’d be doing a disservice to change them to add something on top of it.”
Nonetheless, with Jarmusch, “If an idea comes up that he wasn’t imaging before, it’s indicative of really good directors that they’ve done all the work but are prepared to throw it all away for the sake of a better idea.”
Critics have savored how the backdrop in Paterson harks back to a more innocent time in America a la the 1950s. “The beauty and normalcy — it’s a bit about that and [the couple’s] relationship and how they give each other freedom,” said Driver. “They’re equally inspired by each other. It’s not a special effects-driven movie or a lot of action. His main activity is to listen to people and to take in the world around him; that’s a rare thing to get to play.”
Amid Driver’s commercial breakout success with Star Wars: The Force Awakens as the tragic soul Kylo Ren following his absurdist and sometimes acerbic turn as boyfriend Adam Sackler on HBO’s Girls (he talks about the takeaway of working with Lena Dunham here), the former Marine and Juilliard alum has quickly arrived as one of the revolutionary actors of his generation, given his ability to shift between fierce and nuanced tones with the greatest of ease. In addition to Paterson, Driver is starring in Martin Scorsese’s Silence as Father Francisco Garrpe, one of two 17th century Portuguese Jesuit Catholic priests who travel to Japan to spread the good word. Driver also is set to star in Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote as an ad exec who Michael Palin’s Don Quixote believes is Sancho Panza, the central character from Do Miguel de Cervante’s 1605 novel.
Ahead of its Monday world premiere here at the Cannes Film Festival, Paterson sold a number of key offshore territories via K5 International.
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.