Is Adam Driver Really Singing Stephen Sondheim in ‘Marriage Story’?

To Star Wars fans, Adam Driver is best known as the villainous Kylo Ren. Of course, the actor first broke out for his role on HBO’s Girls. But much to Driver’s own surprise, he’s much more of a leading man. The actor even landed his second Oscar nod for Marriage Story. However, his character does take viewers by surprise. In a key scene, Driver’s Charlie belts out a Stephen Sondheim show tune. But is he really doing his own singing?

Adam Driver wears a suit, holds a microphone, and smiles at a 'Marriage Story' screening
Adam Driver wears a suit, holds a microphone, and smiles at a ‘Marriage Story’ screening | Vincent Sandoval/Getty Images

Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson delivered intense performances in ‘Marriage Story’

Writer-director Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story ironically chronicles the end of a crumbling marriage. Charlie and Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) engage in a rigorous legal battle throughout the course of the movie. And one powerful scene — in which the two loudly argue — illustrates just how committed Driver and Johansson were to capturing making Charlie and Nicole’s relationship resonate with viewers.

Naturally, both lead actors were nominated for Academy Awards for their roles. Marriage Story, by all accounts, was the product of a ton of collaboration between Baumbach and his two main stars. Indeed, the filmmaker taps into something primal in both performers, pushing them to give to the movie in ways they rarely have before. For Driver, that forced him out of his comfort zone in more ways than one.

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Did the actor do his own singing during a particularly emotional scene in the movie?

Late in Marriage Story, Charlie goes out with friends and ends up pouring his heart into a performance of “Being Alive” from Sondheim’s classic musical Company. It’s an emotional highlight in a movie filled with them. And while Johansson also has a musical scene in the film, she’s a singer in her own right. While Driver isn’t, he is performing his own singing in Marriage Story.

“I find singing in general terrifying,” Driver told The Skinny. “If you asked me to sing an Elvis song here for you now, that’d be terrifying. Luckily in that scene, it’s focused around character. And Noah was very clear it wasn’t just a song for a song’s sake, it had to have meaning and purpose.”

Marriage Story isn’t the first movie in which Driver sang in character. He also performs in Inside Llewyn Davis, with his Star Wars co-star Oscar Isaac. But Baumbach’s project certainly pushes Driver to the limit with how emotionally demanding the role of Charlie was to play.

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Adam Driver is back in another awards contender in 2021

As uncomfortable as Driver seems to be with singing, he’s found himself in another music-oriented role. The actor will star in Annette, a movie from French filmmaker Leos Carax. The musical co-stars Oscar-winning actor Marion Cotillard and is set for international release in summer 2021.

Driver will also play Maurizio Gucci opposite Lady Gaga as Patrizia Reggiani in director Ridley Scott’s House of Gucci. That movie is on track to hit theaters in November 2021. In any case, Driver could be facing another hugely successful year and perhaps even another Academy Award nomination.