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Martin Scorsese's Silence is a passion project, on every level. As producer Gaston Pavlovich informed us in an exclusive interview, Scorsese as well as his cast and crew took pay cuts and logged tireless hours to bring the director's long-gestating adaptation of Shusaku Endo's novel to the big screen. Beyond that, however, you can't get through the torturous journey -- and emerge from Scorsese's cathartic, deeply self-analytical religious epic -- without having your own belief system questioned, and possibly re-organized.
Silence is a difficult film to break down in a tight-windowed junket situation, but Adam Driver and I did the best we could to touch on the top topics that came to mind with regards to the film, and his work it in. Driver, alongside Andrew Garfield, plays a Jesuit priest venturing to Japan to retrieve a former mentor (Liam Neeson) who may have lost his faith. So I asked Driver how working with Scorsese -- and working with the legendary director on this film, in particular -- changed his feelings on faith and conviction. He told me:
[I learned] that I guess it's good not to put so much pressure on yourself if you doubt, suddenly, what it is you are doing. Even though religion is the boundary of this story, there are really universal [lessons] about the anguish of faith with everything. And I resonate with that. That resonates with me, especially with acting.
I decided to go to school. I graduated to be an actor. And now, it's filled with rejection. Or success! Or failure. Or things that seem to have nothing to do with your job that you have to answer for or to. Personalities... you are diplomatically arguing your point. There's a lot of things that make you question what it is that you got into in the first place. But that's fine. That's actually healthier to constantly reevaluate your relationship to your work, or your marriage, or whatever.
I also found it interesting that when I sat down with Adam Driver, I asked him if it's an instant "Yes" the minute Martin Scorsese calls to work on a film, regardless of the film's content. He said absolutely, and without question. When I posed the same question to Liam Neeson, he said, "Not exactly," explaining that the two men have history, having worked together on the brilliant Gangs of New York, but that he really needed to know what Silence was going to be about before he signed on the dotted line. We'll have more with Neeson next week, but here is Adam Driver, talking about the impact Silence had on him:
Martin Scorsese's contemplative analysis of faith and conviction, Silence, opened in limited release already. It expands to even more theaters on Friday, January 13.