From the Military To the Great White Way: Getting To Know BURN THIS Star Adam Driver
One of the finest actors of his generation, Driver has routinely displayed a diversity in his projects that would make most actors jealous.
Adam's route to his current success was as diverse as the artist himself, paved with a wealth of experiences and hardships on which Driver draws to produce his routinely thrilling work.
A self-described misfit Driver initially applied to his alma mater, Julliard, following his high school graduation.
After being rejected by the famed arts school, he decided to pursue acting nonetheless. He set his sights on Hollywood, but returned to his hometown in Indiana after only two days in California, when his meager savings dried up.
No stranger to survival jobs, Driver worked as a door-to-door salesman selling Kirby vacuum cleaners after his Hollywood mishap. He also worked as a telemarketer for a basement waterproofing and construction company.
When the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 devastated the nation, Driver enlisted in the U.S. Marines and served in the military for more than two years. Though he enjoyed military life, his service was cut short when a mountain-biking accident before a deployment to Iraq left him with an injured sternum, prompting an honorable discharge.
Gutted that he wasn't able to complete his military service, Driver once again returned to Indiana, enrolling at the University of Indianapolis. He spent a year at the school before deciding to give Juilliard another try. This time he earned acceptance into the prestigious drama program.
Though Driver had earned his place in the school, he once again felt out of place among his peers. His military work ethic combined with a taste for intensive role preparation (he once lived in a storage space for weeks at a time in order to properly convey isolation for a role) caused fellow students to find the former Marine intimidating and volatile
He told The Irish Times in 2016, "I was filled with patriotism and a desire for retribution. I felt obligated to get involved. But then you get to the military and any political agenda you had is gone. It becomes all about the people that you're with. It's an insular community. The outside world gets more and more distant, the longer you're in there. It's gets harder to relate to those outside."
As a result of his struggle to engage with civilian life following his military service, Driver founded the non-profit Arts in the Armed Forces with his partner and now-wife, Joanne Tucker. The program aims to bring thought-provoking, contemporary theatre to military families, veterans, and active duty service members, using the arts as a teaching tool for communication and self-expression.
After graduating Julliard with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 2009, the talented young actor began working almost immediately, landing his first role on the TV series The Unusuals. This was followed by appearances on Law & Order and sevral made for TV movies, including HBO'S Kevorkian biopic, You Don't Know Jack.
Around the same time, Driver returned to the stage and made his Broadway debut in 2010, appearing opposite Cherry Jones and Sally Hawkins in a revival of Mrs. Warren's Profession. In 2011, Driver took on the role of neurotic gay intellectual Louis Ironson in the off-Broadway revival of Tony Kushner's Angels In America.
Though he had seen more success in the first two years of his career than most actors can dream of, 2011 brought Driver the role that would take him from working actor to household name.
Landing the role of Lena Dunham's oddball love interest, Adam Sackler, on the HBO series Girls, saw Driver catapulted to stardom along with the rest of the show's young cast. Over the course of the series, Driver earned acclaim for the role in addition to three consecutive Emmy nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.
His popularity prompted a crossover to film, which began with smaller roles working with some of film's greatest artists, including parts in Steven Spielberg's Lincoln, Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar, the Coen brother's Inside Llewyn Davis, and Noah Baumbach's Frances Ha.
With his star still on the rise, the next few years would see Driver landing bigger and bigger film roles, culminating with the coveted part of sith lord Kylo Ren in the reboot of the Star Wars franchise. Joining original cast members and newcomers alike in the films cemented Driver's status as a bona fide movie star.
As his film career blossomed, Driver continued collaborating with Hollywood's most revered icons. In 2016, he starred opposite Tony Award-winner Andrew Garfield in Martin Scorcese's historical epic, Silence.
In 2018, he appeared in Spike Lee's BlacKkKlansman as a Jewish detective who goes undercover as a member of Ku Klux Klan. This role would earn Driver what is sure to be the first of many Academy Award nominations for his performance.
In the midst of his rapidly expanding career, Driver has also continued his work with Arts in the Armed Forces. To date, the organization has produced numerous performance events, including readings at military bases and arts institutions such as Studio 54, American Airlines Theatre, Playwrights Horizons, and Lucille Lortel Theatre.
The company has also gone international, hosting performances abroad in Germany, and Kuwait. In 2017, they established The Bridge Award, a $10,000 prize recognizing an emerging playwright, and added the Student Veteran Internship Program in 2018.
With no end to Driver's incredible potential in sight and such a diverse array of projects behind him, there is no limit to what we can expect from this one of a kind artist.
Currently, he has a slew of upcoming projects in the pipeline and continues his passionate work with AITAF. But no matter where he goes from here, if his career so far is any indication, there's no where to go but up.
Learn more about Adam and Arts in the Armed Forces in the VICE documentary below!