Jul 22 2014 12:15pm

Driven to Distraction: An Argument for Adam Driver’s Sex Appeal

Adam Driver and Lena Dunham in GirlsThe French have a word, jolie laide, for “good-looking ugly women,” women such as Anjelica Huston, Bette Davis, and Tilda Swinton. There isn't such a term for good-lucking ugly men, but there should be, and one of the prime examples of that would be Girls (and future Star Wars) actor Adam Driver.

He's a really good actor—he has made his Girls character go from being a reprehensible, shirtless, sex-addicted slacker to being a caring, shirtless, sex-addicted slacker. In other words, the character has remained true to himself, even though our perceptions of him have changed dramatically through the seasons. That's due as much to Driver as it is to the show's writers.

Adam DriverHe'll play the villain in the forthcoming Star Wars movie, and it'll be interesting to see what he does with a role that is likely to be less nuanced and bigger than his previous work (similar to another 'ugly-pretty' actor, Benedict Cumberbatch, who was the villain in Star Trek).

While Cumberbatch looks good in static pictures, Driver just...does not. His face, when at rest, is odd, and it's difficult to explain how appealing he is without seeing him in motion, a fact he recognizes:

I'm like a sight gag, I have this really big face...I don't totally get it. I mean, when I read for Girls I was, like, the script says 'Handsome Carpenter,' so someone else is going to get the part. They'll have someone handsome, not me. I mean, I'm not in any danger of getting leading-man parts.

But watch him in motion, and you can't take your eyes off him. There's this very poignant, lovely, disturbing scene where—even though they've broken up—Hannah calls Adam and he responds exactly as you'd want someone to, literally running (without bothering to put a shirt on) to her apartment. 

“I was always here.”


And then there's his voice; he's got this low, strangled way of speaking that seems as if he is holding his emotions in, even though (at least on Girls) he is painfully honest, saying precisely what is on his mind. The way he calls Hannah “kid,” even though they're not that far apart in age is so sweet, and he only uses the epithet when he wants to reveal his feelings and caring. In real life, he doesn't speak quite as growly.

Then, to talk about the 6'3" elephant in the room, there's his body. A former Marine, Driver is ripped in a natural (albeit hot) way. He spends most of his time on Girls shirtless, and that's a good thing.

He has this presence that transcends the reality that he does, actually, have sort of an odd face. And more than presence, he is a good actor, and makes people want to watch what he does, which is probably why Stephen Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, and the Coen Brothers, among others, want to work with him.

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
Tiffany Tyer
1. TiffanyTyer
So hot (and for the record, I think Benedict Cumberbatch is too). These guys are just compelling and make you sit up and take notice, and that does have a very potent sex appeal attached to it. In fact, I told Jamie Brenner that Adam Driver was my favorite thing about Girls this season. And he is. I'm trilled he's getting the recognition he's earned.
Shark with Lasers
2. Shark with Lasers
I get it, I do. Even when they're not my personal cuppa, I get the attraction. Driver has a charm that shows when he is in motion. He kind of reminds me of Eric Balfour that way. Also, Adrien Brody. I would disagree just a tad on your assessment of Cumberbatch, who actually is very photogenic when photographed from certain angles. If we're gonna discuss actors who are sexy without being handsome, I would nominate Jackie Earle Haley. There's something smoldering about that guy but he is not a conventionally good looking dude.
Shark with Lasers
4. stacymd2
Adam Driver is handsome in a slightly unconventional way. His look reminds me of Greg Bryk (Bitten), Matt Smith (Dr. Who) and Paul Dano (12 Years a Slave). He is attractive, but there is something off.

I don't like AD's character on Girls in any way. (I dislike all of the characters on Girls, to be fair.) But, I get his appeal. AD certainly has leading man potential. I'm looking forward to seeing him in Star Wars.
Shark with Lasers
5. Leslye Penelope
There was some movie (wish I could remember the title) that talked about "sexy ugly," specifically in regards to Harvey Keitel, I believe. Yes, to Adrien Brody. It's a special anti-pretty-boy class of man that has some kind of magnetic quality to them. Great post!
Lege Artis
6. LegeArtis
Excellent post!

I feel the same way about Vincent Cassel. He is not conventionally good-looking, but when you see him on the screen he is simply brilliant and he draws you right in... He is also a great example for paradox of this topic since he was married to one of the most beautiful women in the world: Monica Bellucci.

Jamie Brenner
7. jamieloganbrenner
Amazing post, Megan. You have so perfectly expressed what is so hard to articulate about him!
Shark with Lasers
8. MariaC
Oh, I love Adam Driver, both still and in motion. I think he looks oddly hot both ways. He's very talented; that's a very appealing quality in any person.

Call me crazy, but I would put Mick Jagger in this same category.
Heather Waters
11. HeatherWaters
Admin here. Comments containing racial slurs are not tolerated at H&H and will be unpublished as the previous comment has been. Another instance from the same user will result in that commenter being banned.
Shark with Lasers
12. Lionrock71
Russell Crowe has puffy/dad bod moments....but I don't care! Jean Reno in The Professional? Matt Damon withDaniel Craig who has quirky ears but a darkness/intensity and that great physique. Kevin Durand: Think he's not QUITE in the range of hot? Listen to him on Aisha Tyler's Girl on Guy podcast as a guest and I swear you will love him this same way. If I bumped into him on the street I'd want to climb him like a big ole tree! Tchéky Karyo from The Patriot, La Femme Nikita, etc...he has the French thing and presence. Adam is like a stronger/more animated/bigger/smarter/sweeter (something that was always lacking a bit) Keanu Reeves.
Post a comment