To drum up interest in his part in Michael Mann’s much-awaited Enzo Ferrari biopic, Ferrari, Adam Driver spoke with CNN’s Chris Wallace this week. When Wallace remarks that Driver doesn’t “look like the typical movie star,” what starts as a great talk with one of our most gifted and captivating actors takes a ridiculous turn and enters the realm of standards.
In the most recent edition of CNN’s Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace?, Driver makes an appearance. In the show, the seasoned television journalist conducts talks with a range of public leaders and personalities. Wallace questions Driver on similarities to artists like Al Pacino and Jack Nicholson, who “blurred the line between movie star and character actor,” after speaking momentarily about Ferrari. Wallace asks Driver what he thinks of that, citing a 2019 New Yorker story. The actor responds, “That’s very nice. Those are the actors that made me want to be an actor, so that’s a nice comparison.” “Do you accept it?”Wallace inquires. In response, Driver quips amusingly that The New Yorker has also made disparaging remarks about him:
“Well, no. The New Yorker has also called me a horse-face, so I take it with a grain of salt. I remember reading one reviewer [who said] ‘his agent probably doesn’t know whether to put him in a movie or the Kentucky Derby.’ So if you believe the good thing, you have to believe the bad thing. I try to not absorb anything.” Wallace uses this line of questions to address Driver’s appearance rather than end the conversation. Wallace continues, “Well, that leads me to the next question I wanted to ask you, which is that you don’t look like the typical movie star” “Has that been a help or a hindrance?” The question is completely ridiculous to put to someone, much less in a public setting, but the media has never shied away from criticizing celebrities’ outward appearances. They are typically significantly less sensitive.
The driver is temporarily uneasy and responds to the query with a self-deprecating remark. Self-destruction is a typical defensive tactic, as anyone who falls outside the “conventionally attractive” mold created and propagated by the media can attest. Driver’s reaction is, if anything, highly relatable, but it’s still terrible to watch as he’s made to take responsibility for an achievement that he only attained—as Wallace suggests—by conquering his appearance. “I look how I look,” Driver admits, after mentioning that he’s worked consistently and with several individuals he’s “always dreamed of.” “I can’t change that, so I guess it helped me.” “A hindrance in only breaking mirrors wherever I go and having a misshapen, outsized body that I can’t fit through doorways or most clothes or fit into most cars,” he continues, trailing off afterward. Wallace laughs in response, seeming to be having an authentic episode. Within that moment, Wallace asks Driver if he has ever thought, “Man, if I looked like Robert Redford, it would be easier.” And that’s exactly where the interview turns into a segment of Between Two Ferns.
By mentioning that he too wishes he looked like Robert Redford, Wallace attempts to make this appear like a shared experience with Driver. The suggestion is that Wallace and Driver are two strange-looking men who became famous without any special repository for looks. It’s just such an odd discussion to have. In Hollywood and beyond, men usually find it pretty easy. They don’t have to cope with the same kind of criticism regarding their exteriors and usually receive compensation more than their female colleagues and, if they’re white, more than their non-white peers. The appeal hypothesis appears to have become more nebulous in recent years, as men now seem to be experiencing it as well. If nothing else, they are at ease enough to react to it in a different way than they have in the past. Will Poulter and Kumail Nanjiani are two actors who have shown uneasiness over the hazardous techniques they have used to obtain the “ideal” body in superhero movies, as well as the open discussion of their bodies.