"September 11 happened and all my friends were like 'Let's join the military!' and I was the only one who actually did."
Adam Driver was born on November 19, 1983 to Nancy Wright, a paralegal, and Joe Driver, a preacher. He began acting in plays at Mishawaka High School, and graduated in 2001. After the attacks on September 11, 2001, Driver got thrown into frequent conversations about joining the military. His friends talked about it, and he even got into an argument with his father over whether or not he should join the Marines. Despite the confrontation, a seed was planted and Driver joined the USMC.
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.
Unfortunately for the young Marine, Driver injured his sternum in a mountain biking accident before deploying. He attempted to mitigate his debilitated state by training harder than before, if for no other reason than to show off that he was okay. However, after two years of service with no time in the field, Driver was medically discharged.
The discharge depressed Driver, but an incident he survived earlier provided clarity and drive. One day during training, he and his squad conducted field exercises involving white phosphorous. Instead of hitting the intended target, one of the white phosphorous shells burst almost directly over the men in the field. As he watched the white cloud fall, nearly killing everyone, Driver immediately focused on two things: he wanted to smoke and be an actor.
When he returned to the U.S., he attended Julliard and studied drama. He graduated in 2009 and began acting in Broadway and off-Broadway plays while pulling odd jobs to pay bills. He soon made inroads into cinema and has appeared in movies such as "J. Edgar" and "Lincoln." He appeared in a handful of television shows as well, but the role he's most famous for is his portrayal of Adam Sackler on HBO's "Girls."
Driver's career has been steadily moving forward ever since it began in 2009, and is now hitting light speed with the release of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," in which he plays the villainous Kylo Ren. "It's exciting, and it's also terrifying," he said in an interview on The Telegraph. "I’m covered for Christmas presents forever. I’ve been finding cousins I didn’t know I had [since Star Wars]. But I’ve got them all covered!"
Of his Marine Corps days, he reminisces, "You miss the rigor, the discipline, the camaraderie...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."
When not acting, Driver operates the non-profit Arts in the Armed Forces which aims to bring stage plays to servicemembers.