Adam Driver Had an Inspiring Reason for Joining the Military

Adam Driver has enjoyed not just a great year this year but a great  past few years, with the new Star Wars trilogy, his Oscar nomination for BlacKkKlansman, and Oscar attention again this year for Netflix’s Marriage Story. Another movie he made this year is Amazon’s The Report, about a senate staffer leading an investigation into torture by the United States in the wake of 9/11. 

What’s ironic about that is, 9/11 shaped Driver’s life in a major way. It prompted him to join the military. Only it didn’t turn out exactly as he planned. 

Adam Driver speaks onstage
Adam Driver | Gary Gershoff/Getty Images

Adam Driver’s military story

Many people joined the armed forces in the wake of the September 11 terror attack. As Driver himself put it, “September 11 happened and all my friends were like ‘Let’s join the military!’ and I was the only one who actually did.”

Driver argued with his friends and family over signing up, but he ultimately joined the Marines, according to Military.com. That site’s profile states, “Despite never being an athlete or joining any organization with a sense of fraternity, Driver easily adapted to Marine Corps culture. The Marines provided structure and a sense of unity he had not experienced otherwise. Driver trained hard, and looked forward to deploying with his friends.”

But before that could happen, fate intervened in a different way, with Driver hurting his sternum in a mountain biking accident. Although he tried to train harder to fend off the effects of the injury, he was medically discharged. Although this disappointed Driver, he was able to use his experience to forge a new path in life. 

How did Driver go from the military to acting?

Driver reflected on an incident in his training, when his unit was working with white phosphorus. Rather than hitting the target, the phosphorus burst over the team, putting them in danger. And it was then that he decided drama would be his calling. 

He said of his experience, “I think you become very aware, probably more than average people your age, that we’re all going to die. You’re aware of your own mortality, and also of how much you can accomplish in a day. Time is precious, and you don’t want to waste it.”

Driver went to Julliard and studied drama, graduating in 2009. One of his first big beaks was a role in Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar, followed by Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, and around the same time he entered the national consciousness in a big way playing Adam Sackler on HBO’s Girls

From there, the fame magnified, with Driver working for the Coen Brothers (Inside Llewyn Davis), Steven Soderbergh (Logan Lucky) and Martin Scorsese (Silence), among many others. 

From ‘The Report’ to ‘Rise of Skywalker’

The Report is getting less attention than some of Driver’s other projects, with most of the buzz coming from Marriage Story with Scarlett Johansson and The Rise of Skywalker, where he’ll wrap up playing the “is he or isn’t he evil” Kylo Ren.

However, he also brings intensity and verve to The Report, according to director Scott Z. Burns, That brought Adam full circle from his time in the military to now, even though he wasn’t playing anyone in the military. 

Burns told Rolling Stone, “The idea to go to him came from Steven Soderbergh, who worked with him on Logan Lucky and had said that there was absolutely nothing that guy does that ever gets close to boring …. When we first met I had some awareness that he had been in the Marines. He said, I feel like I should know this story because it was happening during my time in the military, and the fact that I read like your script and felt like I didn’t know any of this is really intriguing to me. He wanted to help tell that story.”