Adam Driver is nominated for his first Oscar at this year’s Academy Awards for his portrayal of Flip Zimmerman in BlacKkKlansman. And like many Oscar-worthy roles, inhabiting this character — a police officer who helps infiltrate a Ku Klux Klan chapter with detective Ron Stallworth (played by John David Washington) — required him to do some pretty uncomfortable things.
In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Driver recalls thinking the movie told “an unbelievable story” from the very first time he saw the script. “As soon as you start reading something, you can’t help but start working on it a little bit,” he said. “It’s like, ‘Can I pull it off?'”
One such memorable challenge from filming the Spike Lee-directed movie was when he (along with many other actors) had to cheer while watching lynching scenes in Birth of a Nation. “Everyone felt uncomfortable, but that gets lost in the minutiae of working on something. You are working on your character, so you can’t think about how it feels. It is not your job to feel anything, it’s your job to tell the story,” he said.
Despite that mindset, something about that moment felt wrong. “Putting on a KKK hood, you feel like you understand what that is,” Driver said. “But then when you are wearing it, what it represents is so far from everything I believe in that it doesn’t feel right.”
Even the best actors have human moments when their roles require them to act with hate.