‘Silence’: The Torturous Moment Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield Experienced Behind the Scenes of Martin Scorcese’s Movie

Adam Driver plays an emaciated priest in the 2016 film Silence by Martin Scorcese. Driver’s lank appearance shocked many of his fans, who are used to his bulky and otherwise shirtless in previous roles. Find out what Driver’s diet consisted of while working on the Scorcese movie. Plus, Driver recalls a behind-the-scenes moment that was torturous for him and co-star Andrew Garfield. 

Adam Driver, who stars in the Martin Scorcese movie 'Silence'
Adam Driver | Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures

Martin Scorsese movie ‘Silence’ is about 17th century priests

Scorcese’s 2016 film Silence is a historical drama based on the 1966 novel of the same name by Shūsaku Endō. The movie stars Driver, Garfield, Liam Neeson, Tadanobu Asano, and Ciarán Hinds. It takes place in Nagasaki, Japan. 

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The plot of Silence follows two 17th-century Jesuit priests who are traveling from Portugal to Edo-era Japan to locate their missing mentor while simultaneously spreading Catholic Christianity. Silence is the second film adaptation of Endō’s novel — the version of the film starring Tetsurō Tamba, Mako, Eiji Okada, Shima Iwashita, David Lampson, and Don Kenny was released in 1971. 

Movies with Adam Driver like ‘Silence’ required weight loss 

Since Scorsese was directing a movie about 17th century Jesuit priest who travel to Japan by foot, he needed his actors to look emaciated. Driver and Garfield both had to lose a substantial amount of weight to star in Silence

“[Scorcese] asked us to lose weight,” Driver told Interview Magazine. “When the movie begins, the characters have been traveling for two years, from Portugal to Macau, [having] sailed around Africa. There’s disease and [a] shortage of food. They’re already kind of depleted when they get to Macau before their last leg to Japan.” 

Adam Driver takes dieting to ‘the extreme’ for the priestly role 

Driver’s emaciated appearance was all part of the storytelling in Silence. “I didn’t do it to get attention,” Driver told Esquire. “It was for the story!”

The Marriage Story actor lost 30 pounds before filming for Silence began. While the shooting took place, Driver lost an additional 20 pounds, dropping from 208 pounds to 157 pounds total. 

“I don’t think I’ve ever taken it to the extreme before,” he explained to Interview. The actor recalled being so tired at various points while filming Silence, but there was nothing he could do. 

“You only have enough energy to convey what you’re doing,” he said. “There are other times where a scene’s not working and you don’t have the energy to figure out why it’s not working.” 

Adam Driver’s diet while filming ‘Silence’ with Martin Scorcese

During that same interview with Esquire, Driver shared what food and drink he was consuming to stay lean for Silence. “It’s coffee all day, that’s a given,” he told the outlet. 

“A shake in the morning, then a protein and vegetables at night,” he continued. “If you need energy, you chew these Fiber Gummies.” 

Martin Scorcese laughed at Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield because they couldn’t eat dumplings 

Sticking with a rigorous diet while filming Silence wasn’t always easy for Driver and Garfield. That was especially true when the cast and crew dined on things they couldn’t, like dumplings. 

“There was this one time we were on a boat attached by a rope to shore,” Driver recalled. “They were switching cameras at lunchtime. So, [Garfield and I] had a panoramic view of everyone on set eating dumplings.” 

Driver remembers yelling at the people standing on the deck visible from where they were in the boats. “‘You f*cking a*sholes!” Driver recalled saying. “Marty was on the shore laughing, ‘Sucks to be you!'” Fortunately, Driver has safely put back on the weight he lost for Silence