It should come as no surprise that Adam Driver has had a banner year. Starring in three buzzworthy films and working twice with director Ridley Scott, the performer also had time to strip down and swim with a horse in the ocean for a much-talked-about Burberry ad. For W’s annual Best Performances issue, the star of Annette, House of Gucci, and The Last Duel explains why his Juilliard training prepared him for filming during the pandemic, getting the Gucci walk out of his system, and why he hasn’t been to a Hollywood wrap party since the end of Lena Dunham’s Girls.
You were in so many films this year: Annette, House of Gucci, and The Last Duel. Many were made in lockdown.
Yes. I went to Juilliard, and they train you to be a repertory theater actor—Chekhov in the morning, Arthur Miller at night. I like that discipline. In some ways, House of Gucci was the most difficult. I do not live in the same world as Maurizio Gucci. The way he picks up things that are valuable and discards them, the way he is the most elegant man—those qualities were interesting to think about. But after 14 hours a day of being a Gucci, I was ready for it to be over. In general, I leave jobs immediately. I haven’t been to a wrap party since Girls. I just want to get the character out of my system and go home.
You’ve worked with Ridley Scott two times now. Do you like working together?
Yes! I fucking love him. He uses four cameras at a minimum, and it’s like theater-in-the-round. He draws his own storyboards, and the productions move very fast. He doesn’t lose momentum over a meaningless detail.
I like Maurizio’s glasses in House of Gucci.
Finding those glasses was a long process. The costume was important. And the walk—the Gucci walk. There were generations of Gucci in that walk. He is a man who goes from rejecting the world he knows, to reclaiming his sense of self, to falling in love with a world that is toxic. He is a victim of timing.
For your recent Burberry Hero fragrance ad, you swam with a horse. What was that like?
It took me a couple of months to train! I wanted to be muscular like a horse. And horses are very lean, so I lost weight. We shot in the Canary Islands, and I found it very challenging. I don’t like to watch my films, but I actually watched the Burberry ad. I wanted to see it.
Who directed it?
Jonathan Glazer. Mario Sorrenti took the photo for the ad. I love horses.
Grooming by Amy Komorowski at the Wall Group. Produced by Wes Olson and Hannah Murphy at Connect the Dots; production manager: Zack Higginbottom at Connect the Dots; photo assistants: Antonio Perricone, Jeff Gros, Morgan Pierre; digital technician: Michael Preman; lighting technician: Keith Coleman; key grip: Scott Froschauer; retouching: Graeme Bulcraig at Touch Digital; senior style editor: Allia Alliata di Montereale; senior fashion market editor: Jenna Wojciechowski; fashion assistants: Julia McClatchy, Antonio Soto, Nycole Sariol, Sage McKee, Josephine Chumley, Rosa Schorr; production assistants: Tchad Cousins, Juan Diego Calvo, Gina York, Brandon Fried, Nico Robledo, Kein Milledge; hair assistants: Tommy Stanton, Sol Rodriquez, Andi Ojeda; makeup assistants: Tami Elsombati, Bridgett O’Donnell; manicure assistant: Pilar Lafargue; set coordinator: Sarah Hein; set assistants: Olivia Giles, Seth Powsner, King Owusu; tailors: Suzi Bezik, Cardi Mooshool Alvaji; tailor assistant: Elma Click