11 Fascinating Facts About Adam Driver

Gareth Cattermole, Getty Images for Disney
Gareth Cattermole, Getty Images for Disney

With the combination of his talent and intriguing aura, it’s hard not to be a little fascinated by the force that is Adam Driver. Unsurprisingly, he has earned a reputation for his intensity, although he denies knowing where that came from. The actor rose to fame with his role on HBO’s Girls, and has since become a household name as the brooding Kylo Ren in the newest Star Wars trilogy. Here are 11 things you might not know about the Oscar-nominated actor.

1. Adam Driver joined the Marines after 9/11.

When Adam Driver was rejected by Juilliard the first time he applied, he attempted to make it as an actor on his own, but met with little success. It wasn’t until 9/11 that he knew what he had to do. “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 told Rolling Stone.

His military experience only strengthened his determination to find success as an actor. “I was like, ‘I’m going to smoke cigarettes and be an actor when I get out.’ Those were my two thoughts,” he said. “I wanted to smoke cigarettes and be an actor.”

2. Adam Driver started his own Fight Club in school.

Adam Driver in Logan Lucky (2017)
Claudette Barius, Fingerprint Releasing

Driver, who has described his younger self as a misfit, revealed that he was inspired to start a fight club at school, after seeing David Fincher's 1999 adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk's novel.

“They had a big grassy field behind f***in’ 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 s**t out of our neighbors,” Driver told Rolling Stone.

3. Adam Driver moved to Hollywood as a teen ... but only lasted two days.

During the time period between being rejected from Juilliard and joining the Marines, Driver moved to Hollywood to pursue his dream of becoming an actor. However, things didn’t go exactly as planned: His car broke down in Texas, and by the time he got to California he was out of money and had to go back home after two days.

“It was really embarrassing, actually,” Driver said. “I had said goodbye to friends and family, like, ‘So long, guys! I’m out of this s**thole town, on to something!’ Literally, like, four days later I was moving back in with my fridge."

4. Adam Driver's second attempt at getting into Juilliard was more successful.

The second time Driver applied to Juilliard, he was accepted, and found much more than an educational foundation. It was while studying at Juilliard that he met his future wife, Joanne Tucker. They have been married since 2013.

5. Adam Driver's early approach to acting was rather intense.

Adam Driver and Jemima Kirke in 'Girls'
HBO

Coming from the Marines, Driver was admittedly quite intense while attending Juilliard his first year. “I made people in my school cry because it was just the way I was used to talking to people,” he told WWD. “I felt like I wanted to do it! Really hard! Whatever it was! And I needed to calm down a little bit."

6. Adam Driver initially had no interest in auditioning for Girls.

The role that catapulted Driver to fame almost didn’t happen for him. The actor admitted he passed on auditioning for Girls at first, not wanting to be on TV. In an interview with Bustle, he admitted that his original thought was, "TV’s the devil, whatever, but then I read the thing. Lena [Dunham] is a very rare writer, very unpretentious. When things become precious or sentimental, that kills it for me.” He ended up playing the role of Adam Sackler for all six seasons of the critically acclaimed series.

For her part, Dunham admitted that she was just as impressed by Driver. In fact, she she said that she was totally “starstruck” by him, even though she had never seen him before. He walked in for a screen test holding a motorcycle helmet, which Dunham thought was “highly intriguing.” She got up from the casting table and read with him, and later revealed that, “All I could mutter was, ‘Wow, you have the same name as this character,’ like a total dingbat.”

7. Adam Driver is a talented musician.

Apart from being a great actor, Driver is also a talented singer. Growing up, both his father and stepfather were preachers, and he sang in the church choir. He got to show off his singing skills (somewhat) in Joel and Ethan Coens's Inside Llewyn Davis. He also plays the piano.

8. Adam Driver lost 50 pounds for his role in Martin Scorsese's Silence.

When Driver landed the lead role in Martin Scorsese's 2016 historical drama Silence, he understandably took the role seriously. He dropped 50 pounds to play a Jesuit priest—30 pounds before production, and 20 more while filming.

"You're so hungry and so tired at some points that there's nothing you can do—you're not adding anything on top of what you're doing," he told Interview on the experience. "You only have enough energy to convey what you're doing, so it's great." However, he was sure to add, “I don't think I've ever taken it to the extreme before."

9. Adam Driver started a nonprofit organization for soldiers.

Along with Tucker, Driver helps soldiers with Arts in the Armed Forces, a nonprofit organization he founded in 2008. Their mission is to bring “high-quality arts programming to active duty service members, veterans, military support staff, and their families around the world free of charge.” Based on his own experiences, Driver believes that theater communities can be a beneficial resource for soldiers and veterans who might have a tough time expressing what they’re going through transitioning back to normal life.

10. Adam Driver has a son, but managed to keep that hidden from the press for more than two years.

In late 2018, Page Six reported that Driver and Tucker had a two-year-old son they’d managed to keep out of the spotlight. Sources told the publication that family members had documented Tucker’s pregnancy on Instagram. Finally, in an October 2019 profile in The New Yorker, Driver confirmed the rumors—and likened the process of keeping their child a secret to a military operation. "My job is to be a spy—to be in public and live life and have experience," Driver explained of the lack of privacy given to actors in his position. "But, when you feel like you’re the focus, it’s really hard to do that."

11. Adam Driver refuses to watch his own movies.

Adam Driver in Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015)
Lucasfilm

Driver has admitted he has a hard time not being in control. Like many actors, he's uncomfortable watching himself on screen. Because of this, he stopped watching himself in roles after the pilot for Girls—though he did make an exception for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

"Because we did so much work on it … It seemed like I should try getting over it,” Driver explained of his decision to watch The Force Awakens. “And it’s Star Wars. I literally can’t believe that I was in it."

Driver is currently making headlines as news just broke that he walked out of an interview with NPR's Terry Gross because he was so uncomfortable to hear a clip of him singing in his new movie, Noah Baumbach's Marriage Story, being played.

When Mississippi Once Banned Sesame Street

Children's Television Workshop/Courtesy of Getty Images
Children's Television Workshop/Courtesy of Getty Images

Since it began airing in the fall of 1969, Sesame Street has become an indelible part of millions of children's formative years. Using a cast of colorful characters like Big Bird, Bert, Ernie, and Oscar the Grouch, along with a curriculum vetted by Sesame Workshop's child psychologists and other experts, the series is able to impart life lessons and illustrate educational tools that a viewer can use throughout their adolescence. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone—even Oscar—who would take issue with the show’s approach or its mission statement.

Yet that’s exactly what happened in early 1970, when a board of educational consultants in Mississippi gathered, polled one another, and decided that Sesame Street was too controversial for television.

The series had only been on the air for a few months when the newly formed Mississippi Authority for Educational Television (also known as the State Commission for Educational Television) held a regularly scheduled meeting in January 1970. The board had been created by the state legislature with appointees named by Governor John Bell Williams to evaluate shows that were set to air on the state’s Educational Television, or ETV, station. The five-member panel consisted of educators and private citizens, including a teacher and a principal, and was headed up by James McKay, a banker in Jackson, Mississippi.

McKay’s presence was notable for the fact that his father-in-law, Allen Thompson, had just retired after spending 20 years as mayor of Jackson. Highly resistant to integration in the city during his tenure in office, Thompson was also the founder of Freedom of Choice in the United States, or FOCUS, an activist group that promoted what they dubbed “freedom of choice” in public schools—a thinly veiled reference to segregation. Mississippi, long the most incendiary state in the nation when it came to civil rights, was still struggling with the racial tension of the 1960s. Systemic racism was an issue.

Entering this climate was Sesame Street, the show pioneered by Joan Ganz Cooney, a former journalist and television producer who became the executive director of the Children’s Television Workshop. On the series, the human cast was integrated, with black performers Matt Robinson and Loretta Long as Gordon and Susan, respectively, appearing alongside white actors Jada Rowland and Bob McGrath. The children of Sesame Street were also ethnically diverse.

Zoe (L) and Cookie Monster (R) are pictured in New York City in November 2009
Astrid Stawiarz, Getty Images

This appeared to be too much for the Authority, which discussed how lawmakers with control over ETV’s budget—which had just been set at $5,367,441—might find the mixed-race assembly offensive. The panel's participants were all white.

The board pushed the discussion aside until April 17, 1970, when they took an informal poll and decided, by a margin of three votes against two, to prohibit ETV from airing Sesame Street—a show that came free of charge to all public television stations. (The decision affected mainly viewers in and around Jackson, as the station had not yet expanded across the state and was not expected to do so until the fall of 1970.)

The members who were outvoted were plainly unhappy with the outcome and leaked the decision to The New York Times, which published a notice of the prohibition days later along with a quote from one of the board members.

“Some of the members of the commission were very much opposed to showing the series because it uses a highly integrated cast of children,” the person, who did not wish to be named, said. “Mainly the commission members felt that Mississippi was not yet ready for it.”

The reaction to such a transparent concession to racism was swift and predictably negative, both in and out of Mississippi. Board members who spoke with press, usually anonymously, claimed the decision was a simple “postponing” of the show, not an outright ban. The fear, they said, was that legislators who viewed ETV as having progressive values might shut down the project before it had a chance to get off the ground. It was still possible for opponents to suffocate it before it became part of the fabric of the state’s television offerings.

The concern was not entirely without merit. State representative Tullius Brady of Brookhaven said that ETV exerted “a subtle influence” on the minds of children and that the Ford Foundation, which funded educational programming, could use its influence for “evil purposes.” Other lawmakers had previously argued against shows that promoted integration.

Grover is pictured at AOL Studios in New York City in May 2015
Slaven Vlasic, Getty Images

Regardless of how the decision was justified, many took issue with it. In an anonymous editorial for the Delta Democrat-Times, a critic wrote:

“But Mississippi’s ETV commission won’t be showing it for the time being because of one fatal defect, as measured by Mississippi’s political leadership. Sesame Street is integrated. Some of its leading cast members are black, including the man who does much of the overt ‘teaching.’ The neighborhood of the ‘street’ is a mixed one. And all that, of course, goes against the Mississippi grain.”

Joan Ganz Cooney called the decision a “tragedy” for young people.

Fortunately, it was a tragedy with a short shelf life. The following month, the board reconvened and reversed its own informal poll result, approving of Sesame Street and agreeing that ETV could air it as soon as they received tapes of the program. Thanks to feeds from Memphis, New Orleans, and Alabama, Sesame Street could already be seen in parts of Mississippi. And thanks to the deluge of negative responses, it seemed pointless to try to placate politicians who still favored segregation.

In the fall of 1970, the Sesame Street cast appeared in person in Jackson and was met by representatives from the board, which helped to sponsor the live performance, though it’s not clear any apology was forthcoming.

Sesame Street would go on to win numerous awards and accolades over the proceeding 50 years, though it would not be the only children’s show to experience censorship on public television. In May 2019, ETV networks in Alabama and Arkansas refused to air an episode of the PBS animated series Arthur in which a rat and aardvark are depicted as a same-sex couple getting married.

Attention Movie Geeks: Cinephile Is the Card Game You Need Right Now

Cinephile/Amazon
Cinephile/Amazon

If you’ve got decades worth of movie trivia up in your head but nowhere to show it off, Cinephile: A Card Game just may be your perfect outlet. Created by writer, art director, and movie expert Cory Everett, with illustrations by Steve Isaacs, this game aims to test the mettle of any film aficionado with five different play types that are designed for different skill and difficulty levels.

For players looking for a more casual experience, Cinephile offers a game variety called Filmography, where you simply have to name more movies that a given actor has appeared in than your opponent. For those who really want to test their knowledge of the silver screen, there’s the most challenging game type, Six Degrees, which plays like Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, with the player who finds the fewest number of degrees between two actors getting the win.

When you choose actors for Six Degrees, you’ll do so using the beautifully illustrated cards that come with the game, featuring Hollywood A-listers past and present in some of their most memorable roles. You’ve got no-brainers like Uma Thurman in Kill Bill (2003) and Arnold Schwarzenegger in Total Recall (1990) alongside cult favorites like Bill Murray from 2004's The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and Jeff Goldblum in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984). Of course, being a game designed for the true film buff, you’ll also get some deeper cuts like Helen Mirren from 1990’s The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover and Sean Connery in 1974's Zardoz. There are 150 cards in all, with expansion packs on the way.

Cinephile is a labor of love for Everett and Isaacs, who originally got this project off the ground via Kickstarter, where they raised more than $20,000. Now it’s being published on a wider scale by Clarkson Potter, a Penguin Random House group. You can get your copy from Amazon now for $20.

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