Adam Driver is a gifted and versatile actor of both the screen and stage. This year alone, he stars in everything from Oscars bait like Marriage Story and The Report to the zany zombie comedy The Dead Don’t Die to the guaranteed box office blockbuster Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. He can (and did, daily) eat an entire rotisserie chicken in one sitting for lunch. Because he excels at so much, it’s easy to overlook the one thing at which he is singularly, indisputably the best.
Adam Driver is our generation’s greatest yeller.
Though I have long appreciated Driver’s extraordinary capability for making loud sounds with his mouth, I was struck with this realization while watching Marriage Story, Noah Baumbach’s new movie about how much Los Angeles sucks. Specifically, the scene where estranged couple Charlie (Driver) and Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) have a discussion that begins good-naturedly enough before rapidly devolving into an all-out screaming match.
The camera spins around the two as they corner and confront each other in a cramped rental apartment, lending their fight the patina of a choreographed dance scene. Then, it lingers on Driver, all furious eyes and gaping maw that threatens to swallow up the whole front row of the theater. “I hope you get sick and die!” he bellows. “I hope you get hit by a car tomorrow!” It makes the average person shouting sound like a kitten mewling (after Adam Driver has yelled at it).
If this is Driver’s finest bit of yelling yet, he has plenty of experience under his belt. There was his five-year stretch on Girls as Hannah’s on-again off-again boyfriend which began with him sternly yelling “Hannah!,” usually while shirtless and constructing a structurally unsound wooden table, and ended with him fully destroying a room while screaming in the series finale. And the 2013 romantic comedy The F Word where he sits across the table from Danielle Radcliffe and shouts “I just had s*x, I’m about to eat NACHOS!” As Kylo Ren in Star Wars, he roars, frequently, while wielding his lightsaber and wearing high-waisted pants. Though I have not yet seen The Report, a film in which he plays the Senate investigator tasked with looking into the CIA's torture of terrorist suspects, the teaser trailer promises—you guessed it—yelling! (Somebody needs to develop a version of The Bechdel Test but just for whether or not Adam Driver yells in a movie.)
Driver, it must be said, does not just contain his shouting to film and television. In this year’s staging of Burn This on Broadway, which has the honor of being the most hornily-marketed play in all of human history, his character Pale is a hotheaded restaurant manager who delivers most of his lines at the decibel level of a jumbo jet. Trust me when I say that you’ve never seen yelling until you’ve been in the same room as Adam Driver yelling while on all fours.
Should you want to hear these mellifluous sounds for yourself, there are two separate, though incomplete, YouTube compilations devoted to them: “adam driver yelling/screaming/hollering” and “Adam driver - Angry Moments.”
Of course, doing it constantly is not what makes him preternaturally good at hooting and hollering. His skill lies in his all-encompassing commitment to the act. If other people simply vocalize, he makes yelling a full-body experience. His physicality helps him here: Driver is six feet two, though he seems much, much larger. (After we walked out of Marriage Story, emotionally decimated, my husband asked “how big is Adam Driver?” and I reminded him that I had once facilitated a roundtable discussion on exactly that question.) His face alone is capable of Olympic-level gymnastics.
And his yelling is as cathartic as it is skilled. If we’re all constantly yelling into the abyss, Adam Driver is being heard.