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Adam Driver Reflects On “Extreme” Experience Of Filming Martin Scorsese’s Silence

Dramatic weight loss, harrowing conditions and heightened stakes all contributed to the "extreme" experience of Silence, says Adam Driver.

Dramatic weight loss and gruelling long days on set, all amplified by the dramatic material at hand, is a story that so often emerges on the cusp of awards season. Sometimes, an actor’s physical and/or emotional sacrifice is vindicated with a feature film deserving of its Oscar buzz, while there are other occasions where the end product is, for one reason or another, less than the sum of its parts.

With Silence, Martin Scorsese’s long-in-development passion project, we’re inclined to believe it’s the former. Now approaching its December 23 release, Adam Driver, who stars opposite Andrew Garfield as one of the Jesuit priests bound for feudal Japan, has opened up about his “extreme” experience on set to The Telegraph. In order to truly capture the essence of Shūsaku Endō’s remarkable novel, Scorsese requested that Garfield and Driver shed weight for the film, and it’s understood the latter lost a total of 50 pounds, 40 percent of which during filming.

That’s a fairly significant commitment, and while chatting to Interview Magazine (via The Film Stage), The Force Awakens breakout offered up some context:

“He [Scorsese] asked us to lose weight. When the movie begins, the characters have been traveling for two years, from Portugal to Macau, sailed around Africa. There’s disease and shortage of food.”

“And that visual part of the storytelling, I don’t think I’ve ever taken it to the extreme before. It’s an interesting thing. You’re so hungry and so tired at some points that there’s nothing you can do—you’re not adding anything on top of what you’re doing. You only have enough energy to convey what you’re doing, so it’s great. There are other times where a scene’s not working and you don’t have the energy to figure out why it’s not working.”

Silence will jockey for a place in this year’s awards season come December 23. It’s by no means the only Andrew Garfield vehicle in the race, either, after Hacksaw Ridge knocked our socks off with a deeply moving character study on Desmond T. Doss.

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Michael Briers