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Courtesy of Burberry Beauty

‘Do I smell?’: 10 minutes with Burberry’s Hero, Adam Driver

The actor talks us through his already iconic turn as the face of Burberry Hero Eau de Parfum – from his intense fitness regime, to his love of nature, to the art of not being bitten by a horse

You’ve seen the images. Every few months, Adam Driver’s Burberry Hero shoot – his face forlorn and distant, his body like sculpted marble – starts to permeate your everyday reality. It swans by on buses, drifts through your timeline, or gets shared on a drooling mutual’s story. Its ubiquity makes sense when you think about the impressive parts that helped create it: there’s director Jonathan Glazer, the arthouse visionary behind Under The Skin; there’s the immersive, sultry thrum of FKA twigs’ score; there’s the dramatic seascape setting and hazy sunlit skies. And, of course, there’s Adam Driver himself – one of the most in-demand actors working today – racing at full speed next to a horse. 

When asked why he chose Driver to be the face of the Burberry fragrance last year, Riccardo Tisci was effusive. “[Driver has] this incredible depth in articulating what masculinity means today,” said the brand’s former chief creative officer, “how strength can be subtle, and emotions can empower.” The scent itself – a fresh, peppery blend of pine, cedarwood and juniper – was Tisci’s first for the fashion house, and an attempt to bottle this kind of masculine ideal. “I wanted Burberry Hero to encapsulate modern masculinity, to play on the essence of primal human and animal instincts, channelling the duality between strength and sensitivity.”

The campaign went viral last year, thanks to the surreal plot twist (Driver turns into a centaur). But now, months later, the brand has blessed us once again, marking the release of the new Burberry Hero Eau de Parfum with some thirst-quenching new imagery and unseen BTS shots. To celebrate, we got a quick 10 minutes to chat through the campaign with Driver. Get ready for his face to haunt your festive season once again. 

Physicality was a huge part of this project – you race a horse, you swim with a horse, you transform into a horse. Can you tell us how you got your body ready for the shoot?

Adam Driver: I met this guy named Ian, who’s a trainer that I knew, and I showed him the images that I got from Jonathan Glazer. Jonathan was telling me that he wanted my body to match the sinewy muscles of a horse, which seems very challenging. So we put together a three-month plan of how to get there. And then I worked out for a couple of hours a day, five days a week in the leadup, and then, you know, obviously... are you still awake?


Adam Driver: I’m putting myself to sleep! [Laughs] No, I’m kidding. So you eat less and less, exercise more and more, and get more and more mad the closer you get to the shoot date because you’re so hungry. Then you shoot it and that’s kind of it.

How did this compare to how you typically approach the physicality of your characters? What is your preparation process normally – do you always start with the body?

Adam Driver: It varies. You have an hour and a half to two hours to tell the life story of a person, and their physical life is usually so important: when someone walks in the door, if they’re hunched over and they‘re tall, then that says that they’re used to bending down to talk to people. Or you can tell if someone is self-conscious about a certain body part from their walk. People’s physical lives can almost tell us just as much as dialogue. If they don’t exercise, then what does that look like? If they’re a certain age, then how long have they not been exercising? Or if you’re playing a construction worker, what’s their specific job on the team? If it’s operating a jackhammer, then they’ll probably have stronger arms than legs. So you think about what they’re eating, how they’re spending their time, and it starts informing how you move in the world. And then that’s really helpful, because it starts to feed into how you speak.

I generally get my lines out of the way as soon as possible, and then try to work from the inside out. But for this, the outside is really important – Johnathan had this idea of a [half man half] horse, so it’s not really so much about an internal life. It was an aesthetic one, so that’s pretty much all I had to think about. But in movies, you are playing a character so it’s not just how it looks – it’s how the person thinks that’s the priority.

Would you say this, physically speaking, was one of your most challenging roles?

Adam Driver: No. I would say Silence [where I played a 17th-century Jesuit priest and lost three and half stone] was the most challenging role. [We all] had to drop a lot of weight in that, because [the characters] were starving. It’s kind of hard to tell that story with a lot of weight on, or when you look comfortable, because those guys were not.

What about your relationship with fragrance? Have you always worn it? 

Adam Driver: Not at all, but a lot of people do – I [only] learned this recently! I think when I was a kid, my mom got me a bottle of Stetson cologne for Christmas, and I would just keep getting that same bottle of Stetson cologne. Actually, that’s not true – Brute was the first cologne I got, I think when I was like four years old. You know that little green bottle that has the tube on it?

Maybe an American thing.

Adam Driver: Yeah [laughs]. But I didn’t have like a scent, I would just try to stay showered as much as I could. So this is not part of my world, necessarily. And it’s not something that I would ever have planned to be involved with – I’m always curious about things I know nothing about.

How different did shooting this campaign feel from what you were used to?

Adam Driver: It’s pretty much the same, but there was a client there weighing in on certain things – normally it’s just a conversation between you, the director, and the DP. But as far as executing it, it was almost exactly the same. [Though it was] insane: there was a crew, there were a ton of horses, and you had to adapt to their schedule because they have rights that you have to adhere to, if that makes sense. [Laughs] They don’t swim, they bite, so you just had to try to spend the shoot not getting bitten or drowned by a horse. Other than that, the process was pretty much the same.

“The city has a pulse that you can feel even if you’re indoors, so being outside where there’s no one around and being in nature is incredibly important. It’s a big part of my life” – Adam Driver

This campaign is also a celebration of the natural world. How important is nature to you? Is it important to be in a natural environment, or are you a city person?

Adam Driver: Nature is huge for me, [but] I live in Brooklyn. I love the city, New York is my favorite city in the world. But if you can, getting out of it is really helpful. It has an energy and a pulse that you can feel even if you’re indoors, so being outside where there’s no one around and being in nature is incredibly important. It’s a big part of my life.

And finally, I feel like you must have been asked this question about 4000 times during this campaign, I’m really sorry...

Adam Driver: ...Do I smell?

How bad do you smell?? ...No, who is your personal hero? Feel free to give a really unusual or strange answer that isn’t true.

Adam Driver: There are lots of people at different times in my life who I could define as heroes. But to be honest, recently, the people that I find the most heroic are the parents in Uvalde, Texas – you know, to lose your kids and then get up the next day, is a heroic act. It requires a will that is really impressive. So I would say them for now.

Burberry Hero Eau de Parfum is available at The Perfume Shop