A close inspection of the Adam Driver bio might change your mind about the tall, non-traditional actor. From his obsessiveness about his work to how many eggs he can eat in one day, his openness and honesty about all aspects of himself and his career, his determination to share the techniques of the theater with combat vets, and his way of spinning serious things into comedic moments… these all make Driver his own force.
He Started a Fight Club in High School
Driver’s rules were more realistic and less poetic than Chuck Palahniuk’s. ”No hitting in the balls, a good rule.” But the reasons for fighting were the same as in the David Fincher film. ”There was a guy that rode by on a bike one time. He said, ‘What are you guys doing?’ So I fought him.”
And instead of a dank basement, Driver’s Fight Club was an open air affair. ”They had a big grassy field behind f*ckin’ Celebrations Unlimited, an event space that people rent out to get married or whatever, and we would go out there in the middle of the night and beat the sh*t out of our neighbors.”
He’s Just as Surprised as You Are That He’s a Sex Symbol
The awkward and realistic sex on Girls probably started the notion that Driver is some kind of new idea of a sex symbol. And surprising for Driver himself. “I’m like a sight gag. I have this really big face.” That hasn’t stopped the fashion world from pursuing him for spreads and covers. He’s even been photographed by legendary Annie Leibovitz.
For those who think he’s not that attractive, he feels you. In 2013 he said, “I don’t totally get it. I mean, when I read for Girls, I was, like, the script says ‘Handsome Carpenter,’ so someone else is going to get the part. They’ll have someone handsome, not me. I mean, I’m not in any danger of getting leading-man parts.”
He Got a Style and Grooming Intervention from His Wife
He met Joanne Tucker at Juilliard. They may share a love of acting and run a non-profit together, but Tucker was the more evolved one when it came to style and grooming. “I just kept dressing like a 15-year-old until my wife was basically like, ‘You know, you should wear long pants now. Maybe shorts are good for some people, but not you. And maybe you should get your toe looked at, ’cause, you know, it looks like a turtle shell.'”
He Joined the Marines After 9/11
The September 11 attacks wound up Driver and his friends. “I was having an argument with my stepfather, and he was like, ‘Why don’t you join the Marine Corps?’ And I was like, ‘Noooo! Well, maybe, actually…’ I went and saw the recruiter, who was like, ‘Are you on the run from the cops? Because we’ve never had someone want to leave so fast.'” Driver was on a mission. ‘I was like, ‘I’m going to be a man.’”
Driver trained at Camp Pendleton and easily slipped into into life as new Marine. “I never played sports or got into the whole guy camaraderie of, like, ‘I love you, man! Seniors forever!’ So suddenly being in the military with these guys who were under these very heightened circumstances, isolated from their families, living this very kind of Greek lifestyle, it changed my life in a really big way. I really, really loved it, actually.” Driver wasn’t be able to deploy due to a mountain bike accident where he broke his sternum.
His Non-Profit, Arts in the Armed Forces, Brings Theater to the Troops
Driver and his wife, Joanne, created a non-profit that brings theater productions to the military. Driver also has a unique perspective in how acting and the arts can help direct a veteran’s energy and focus. ”Something I learned in the Marine Corps that I’ve applied to acting is, one, taking direction, and then working with a group of people to accomplish a mission and knowing your role within that team,” Driver said.
Driver wanted to add other opportunities to the programs and entertainment vets and active military were offered. “I could watch cheerleaders all day long,” he told GQ. “But I felt like the military could handle something a little more thought-provoking.”
He Made His Juilliard Classmates Cry; Confused His Marine Buddies
“Intense” is putting it mildly for Driver’s time at Juilliard. He was viewed as odd and aggressive. “I think he thought other people weren’t as committed,” says Richard Feldman, a professor at Juilliard. Driver would run from his apartment in Queens to the Juilliard campus in Manhattan to stay fit and to adhere to some inner code of discipline. He’d binge-watch classic movies or read play after play at the library. He was trying to make up for lost time from his sheltered, religious upbringing. In class, when doing scene study or performing, Driver was hardcore. ”I made a lot of people cry.”
The time at Juilliard made him an odd duck to his Marine buddies. “We all got together in Texas; a friend of ours had passed away,” Driver said. “And I was trying to explain to them what I was doing at Juilliard. And I’m like, ’Yeah, we wear pajamas, and we talk about our inner colors, and there was this exercise where we all gave birth to ourselves…’ And they’re like, ’What the f*ck are you doing?’”
He’s Seen Girls Once
“I saw the pilot of Girls with Lena on her laptop and I was like, ‘This is f*cking terrible.’ Not the show, but the experience. I can’t help but see the mistakes,” he said.
He’ll Always Be a Theater Guy
Driver graduated from Juilliard in 2009 and returns to the stage between his TV and film gigs. A quick rundown of his theater work includes Slipping, The Retributionists, The Forest, and Mrs. Warren’s Profession opposite Cherry Jones. He also played Louis Ironson in Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, replacing Zachary Quinto.
He’s Not a Fan of the Internet
He’s even judging your love of cat videos. “Everyone is so used to having everything immediately, and that doesn’t seem to lend itself to things being good,” he told GQ. “The things on there, they’re just mediocre.”
He Has Some Strange Chicken-Related Food Habits
He used to eat an entire chicken every day. ”It got tiring – go to the store, buy it, eat it. It’s a mess.” So, he ditched the chicken routine and started eating six eggs (four of them sans yolks) every day. “I have a control problem. I hate the feeling of not being in control.” He also works out obsessively. “I feel like I have to move violently once a day or I’ll lose my mind.”
Driver Didn’t Think of Kylo Ren as a Bad Guy
Driver saw Ren as a zealot, a devotee to Vader and Snoke. That also probably explains the mask. Ren doesn’t need it, but the ritual is part of the whole thing for him. “When they think of their actions as morally justified, it makes them dangerous and unpredictable. There’s no level they won’t go to to accomplish what they’re after. I never thought of the character as an evil person,” he said.
He Followed Dunham’s Lead for the Sex Scenes in Girls
The first time Driver had to do a sex scene was for Girls – with creator and costar Lena Dunham. “I thought, this is weird!” Driver said. “People are filming this, and usually I do this privately. But Lena is so comfortable in her body, and there’s so much storytelling that’s happening in the sex scenes.” He acknowledges that the sex scenes were important to the story. “It was very much in line with those characters. It wasn’t just, you know, sex – graphic sex for the sake of it or just for the sake of being controversial. There was always – so much conversation went around those scenes.”
He Wasn’t a Fan of the Kylo Ren Mask
Sure, the mask looks cool, but it’s not exactly an actor’s favorite thing to work with – in fact Driver could hardly see out of it. “It was terrible. To this day, I still don’t know who’s in the movie because I haven’t seen anybody.”
He Lived a Relatively Sheltered Early Life
Driver was born in 1983 in San Diego. His father was a preacher. After his parents divorced, his mother moved the family to Indiana where she remarried a Baptist minister. Driver and his sister sang in the church choir and his mother played piano. He was active in high school theater. After graduation, he worked various odd jobs – telemarketer, door-to-door vacuum salesman, mowed lawns. He lived in a back room of his parents house and paid rent.
“I couldn’t go to the front of the house. They made me buy my own refrigerator and microwave.” He has a compartmentalized kind of relationship with his parents still. He didn’t tell them when he was cast in Girls. “It’s just hard to keep in contact,” he says with a shrug. “We have very different lives.”
There’s a Cat in Brooklyn That Looks Just Like Him
Here’s Kylo when we picked him up from the shelter. Rumors of his celebrity resemblance did not disappoint.
A photo posted by Kylo Ren (@catam_driver) on Jan 19, 2016 at 8:11am PST Originally the Balinese cat was named Corey, but because of the comments he got on social media about how much he looked like Adam Driver, he became Kylo Ren. Ren’s owner Emily McCombs said Adam Driver has open invitation to hang out. “If he ever wants to come meet his doppelgänger, he’s welcome to.” The feline Kylo Ren is nothing like his villainous Star Wars counterpart, “So many people have fallen in love with the way he looks, and obviously I did too, but once I got him home, it turns out he has the most amazing personality. He’s loving and sweet. He’s a supreme snuggler,” McCombs said.
His Audition for Girls Changed the Way Dunham Wrote His Character
Adam Driver is intense; that’s his thing. This inspired Girls creator Lena Dunham to alter her original vision of Adam Sackler. Driver showed up to the Girls audition holding a motorcycle helmet which Dunham found “highly intriguing.” His take on the character took Dunham by surprise – she was even moved to jump in and read with him.
“We played around for a while. I feel like we found something that was playful and seemed to kind of work and make sense. His intensity informed the writing from the start. We were star-struck, even though we’d never seen him before. All I could mutter was, ‘Wow, you have the same name as this character,’ like a total dingbat,” Dunham said.
He Moved to Los Angeles, but Only Lasted Two Days
After initially being rejected by Juilliard, he went to Los Angeles. He drove his 1990 Lincoln Town Car from Indiana and broke down just outside of Amarillo, TX. He arrived in LA with only limited funds and only stayed for two days. “It was really embarrassing, actually. I had said goodbye to friends and family, like, ‘So long, guys! I’m out of this sh*thole town, on to something!’ Literally, like, four days later I was moving back in with my fridge.”
He Once Made Himself Sick Eating Pizza in a Commercial
He shared this anecdote with NPR. “I did a pizza commercial. Actually, I don’t even think it was for pizza. I think it was just in the scene we ate a bunch of pizza. This was right when I got out of the military, and then I was living in Indianapolis. And it was, you know, taking anything that came my way. But I don’t remember what it was for. I just remember we ate a lot of pizza, and I got really sick.”
According to Rolling Stone, He Smells Pretty Good
For some reason, people are obsessed with how Adam Driver smells. His Girls costar Lena Dunham said, “I’ve been asked what he smells like more times than I’d care to admit.” In a 2014 interview with Rolling Stone’s, Alex Morris wrote that Driver smelled “freshly laundered.”
His Episode of SNL Was a Huge Success
Driver’s deadpan delivery made several skits during his 2016 Saturday Night Live hosting gig hilarious. The “Undercover Boss: Starkiller Base” sketch was a chance to poke some fun at his Kylo Ren character. (The outtakes might even be funnier than the sketch itself.)