‘Star Wars’: Adam Driver Hit His All-Time High When He Portrayed Ben Solo

The Star Wars sequel trilogy has been the subject of many an online tirade, whether it’s over The Last Jedi upending fan expectations or The Rise of Skywalker deflating them. However, there is one group that has emerged largely unscathed. 

The prequel trilogy, fairly or unfairly, drew jeers for performances by Hayden Christensen, Jake Lloyd, Natalie Portman and others. As many words have been typed about the disappointments of the sequels, very little ire has been directed toward the cast.

Fans hold Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac’s performances in high regard, even if they think the movies are disappointing. However, Adam Driver gets singled out for particular praise. 

From Ben Solo to Kylo Ren to Reylo

Adam Driver on the red carpet
Adam Driver | Rich Fury/Getty Images

The journey of Ben Solo was among the most complex in the trilogy. When he appeared early in The Force Awakens, he was a formidable figure who seemed at first to be the sequel trilogy’s version of Darth Vader. But he was arguably more complex than even his notorious grandfather. 

Before we even realized that Kylo Ren was the son of Han Solo and General Leia Organa, he made for a frightening villain. His use of the dark side of the Force was chilling, partly because he had considerable self-control issues.

While Darth Vader typically stayed cool and calm, Kylo Ren was given to temper tantrums, which made him all the more worrisome. 

Although Kylo Ren killed his own father near the end of Force Awakens, The Last Jedi forged a bond between him and Rey, with Kylo Ren controversially telling Rey her parents were nobodies, junk dealers who abandoned her.

Although The Rise of Skywalker retconned this by making Rey a Palpatine, she remained basically good, while Kylo was never fully a friend or fully an enemy. That made his redemption tricky. 

Fans draw a distinction between Ben Solo and Kylo Ren

RELATED: ‘Star Wars’: Kylo Ren Has a Really Depressing Backstory According to Adam Driver

We rarely saw “Ben Solo” as such during the sequels, but such was Adam Driver’s skill that there was a distinction, fans on Reddit say. A topic starter wrote, “Ben Solo. Although we only saw a little of him, every second was absolutely phenomenal. Adam Driver is a generational talent and just crushed playing a Solo.’

One of the rare “Ben Solo” scenes came in Rise of Skywalker, where Harrison Ford appeared in a surprise cameo. He’s not a Force ghost but appears to be a vision that Ben has as he struggles to reconcile the warring sides in him. They have this exchange: 

 “Han Solo: I missed you, son.

Kylo Ren: Your son is dead.

Han Solo: No… Kylo Ren is dead. My son is alive.

Kylo Ren: [in disbelief] You’re just a memory.

Han Solo: Your memory. Come home.

Kylo Ren: It’s too late. She’s gone.

Han Solo: Your mother’s gone. But what she stood for, what she fought for… that’s not gone.

Han Solo: Ben…

Kylo Ren: I know what I have to do, but I don’t know if I have the strength to do it.

Han Solo: [touches Kylo’s cheek] You do.”

What has Adam Driver said about his character?

Driver has been famously press-shy to the point that he doesn’t like to hear recordings of his own performances during interviews. But that hasn’t stopped him from being philosophical about his character.

According to Nerdist, Driver told a journalist that Han and Leia both had an unwitting role in creating Kylo Ren because they were inattentive parents. 

Driver himself told Review Journal last year, “I learned how you shouldn’t always figure out what your experience is going to be. You should just experience it. And everyone experiences everything differently. It’s almost more generous to give someone space, so they could make something this special more personal to them. Not that anyone said to me, ‘It will be like this for you to join the ‘Star Wars’ cast.’ I had to get there myself.”