Adam Driver: “Basically, the only thing I try to do is know my lines”

"I never figure anything out. I do my job. That’s my goal, to be as economical as possible." - Adam Driver

“I never figure anything out. I do my job. That’s my goal, to be as economical as possible.” – Adam Driver

Most critics and audiences seem to agree that one of the best aspects of the latest Star Wars trilogy is Adam Driver‘s performance as Kylo Ren — a cross between a big villain with an intimidating look and a Darth Vader fanboy who hates himself for being unable to fill the iconic villain’s black boots. For many, Driver was a fresh face in 2015’s The Force Awakens because he hadn’t appeared in a blockbuster movie before. Obviously, the role has since changed his life and career. Speaking with The Guardian, Driver talks about the challenges of his new status and why he doesn’t feel any responsibility for the success of Star Wars.

Driver points out that there’s a strangeness in being a world-famous actor who strives to be anonymous enough to successfully portray different characters on screen. He says, “I know people think that if you’re an actor, it’s your goal to be famous and wealthy. Surely you want to be famous and wealthy! And there are great things about that part of it – it frees you up to do other things. But part of my job is being anonymous and I think being able to live, to observe more than to be observed, is important. [Being famous] seems counterintuitive to my job. It’s a weird dynamic when you walk into a room and there’s an image people project on to you.”

Of course, Driver doesn’t want to give the impression that he’s complaining about a lack of privacy after signing up to star as a major villain in one of the most popular film franchises of all time. He continues, “What it means to lose anonymity is a bougie problem in and of itself. And I won’t garner sympathy, nor am I asking for it. The image of us on our red carpet wearing expensive suits, where people naturally assume your life is, is not what I was after when I started this job. Believe it or not.”

In fact, because movies like Star Wars are driven by so many factors, he confesses that he finds it hard to take any credit for the success of the latest films. He explains, “I’m excited that people liked it, but do I think that I got it right? No. If I had directed it, maybe. But I didn’t write it, direct it, pick out the costumes. All these decisions – about the lightsaber, that it’s unfinished and unpolished – none of those were mine. I know enough about this job not to take credit. That would be an illusion.”

Driver goes as far to sound almost dismissive about his origins as an actor — that he decided to do it in school on a whim. He reveals, “They auditioned for Oklahoma!, so I did. And I got a part in the chorus. I remember being backstage and it seemed like a community that was a bunch of weirdos, and I liked that part of it. I also felt that I was kind of OK at it. I tend to get frustrated with things that I don’t pick up right away.”

After his stint in the Marines, Driver thought becoming an actor would be easy based on what he had to go through as a soldier. He says, “In the military, you are put in hard circumstances, so I’m thinking, I’ll move to New York and be an actor, and if it doesn’t work out, I’ll just live in Central Park. You know, compared with the military, it can’t be that difficult. I’ll dumpster dive. I’ll survive. Civilian problems compared with the military are small; that was my thinking at the time. That’s not right. But at the time, that’s what I thought”

That might explain Driver’s regimental view of acting — learn your lines and try to do your best work. He explains, “I never figure anything out. I do my job. That’s my goal, to be as economical as possible. Basically, the only thing I try to do is know my lines… Usually, the mood of the set is what I adapt to, as opposed to having a set way of working and imposing it on everybody else. If you need private time, usually people give you space for that. But getting set into one way of doing something seems like closing yourself off from being wrong … interesting things can come out of being wrong.”

It’s ultimately why you won’t see Driver claiming any of the success of Star Wars — and also why he will avoid watching the finished movies if he can. He says, “I keep replaying scenes in my mind. That’s why I don’t like to watch anything I’m in – it’s not my responsibility. It’s not about me.”

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