Adam Driver Says Being an Actor Only Requires 10 Percent Acting — the Rest Is ‘Bullsh*t’

Adam Driver is widely regarded for his role as Kylo Ren in Star Wars. But before he became a celebrated actor, he was a Marine. Driver’s military background had made him compare the way things work in Hollywood to the operations of a militarized organization. What’s more, he think show business could learn a thing or two from how the military operates.

Adam Driver
Adam Driver | Rachel Luna/WireImage

Adam Driver enlisted in the military after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks 

Driver’s deciding factor to join the Marines was sparked by his desire for retribution after Sept. 11, 2001. “It wasn’t against Muslims,” Driver explained to The New Yorker. “It was: We were attacked. I want to fight for my country against whoever that is.”

Driver was an 81mm mortar man for the Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines. After serving for more than two years, Driver was medically discharged due to a mountain biking injury. 

After his discharge, Driver enlisted in the Juilliard School to pursue acting. Today, Driver continues to act, but also support the military. He and his wife operate Arts in the Armed Forces, a nonprofit organization that makes arts programming accessible to active-duty military, veterans, and their families.

For Adam Driver, becoming an actor was the next logical step after leaving the military

In an interview with Vulture, Driver talked about learning “the value of time.” 

“I learned that in the military,” he said. “But I transferred it into making movies.” 

Serving in the military gave Driver purpose, but so did acting. “As you change, your relationship to your job changes,” he explained. The skills Driver developed in the military easily translated into the world of acting. 

Knowing the value of his own time, Driver says he doesn’t “take doing a play or making a movie for granted.” 

“It always seems like a miracle when someone is willing to pay for us to do that,” he admitted. “We’re here right now, and we’re never going to get a chance to do this again.” 

While Driver loves what he does, there are certain aspects of Hollywood Driver wishes would change. 

Adam Driver thinks Hollywood should be more like the military 

Driver talked about the similarities and differences between actors and soldiers with interviewer David Marchese, who conceded “that one profession is at least partly about individual expression,” while the other is all about conforming. 

Driver agreed, adding: 

This is where things differ: In the military, there’s a structure in place for how things work, and you can’t supersede it.

If a [Private First Class] is really good at his job, then he’ll get put in charge. But in making movies, when people get to a certain level they can push their needs ahead of others’.

Acting is not set up to be a collective effort. It can be, but it never is.

Driver believes creating movies, television — any form of entertainment, really — should be a collective effort. “Obviously, in the arts people have more liberty to be individual,” he added. “But I still think of the work as a group effort.”

Adam Driver thinks his career is mostly ‘managing personalities’ and talking about being an actor 

Driver also pointed out how there’s more “bureaucracy” in Hollywood than in a military organization. 

“I’d never realized that most of your job in acting is managing personalities and talking about your job,” he elaborated. “Only, like, 10 percent is the actual doing of it. Sometimes that 10 percent is all you need to keep motivated, but often there’s so much bullsh*t.”

Driver stopped himself. “I don’t want to complain about having a great job,” he conceded.

But Driver makes a valid point — if everyone in the entertainment business viewed their work as a group effort, the impact might be impressive.