Adam Driver on His Path to Acting, Juilliard and a “Come-to-Jesus” Moment


Adam Driver has gone from an Indiana upbringing to working with Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee, the Coen brothers, Jim Jarmusch, Terry Gilliam, Steven Soderbergh… and that’s just in movies. Driver has taken a unique path to the acting profession, and while speaking with Vulture explains how his journey brought him to acclaim and stardom.

Reflecting on how he became an actor, Driver thinks back to how he first became interested in performing. He recalls, “In retrospect, I always wanted to be an actor. I did a play in my freshman year of high school and then tried to do theater throughout. The rule in our house was that I could do it if I got good grades. But being an actor didn’t seem like a realistic job to someone living in Mishawaka, Indiana. Juilliard was one of the only colleges I wanted to go to, and before I joined the military I auditioned. I liked that that school didn’t check grades and admission was based on your abilities. That doesn’t mean I thought good, I’m in… And then I didn’t get in and I put acting out of my mind. But it wasn’t until I was in the military that I was like, ‘I know what I want to do when I get out.'”

In fact, it was a near-death experience that happened while Driver was in the military that made him follow his passion for acting. He reveals, “I had a come-to-Jesus moment. There was a training accident with white phosphorous where we very easily could have died. After that happened I thought, The two things I really want to do are smoke cigarettes and be an actor. And then it just so happened that I did wind up getting accepted [into Juilliard]and I was incredibly lucky to go from having not even a novice’s understanding of the acting world to suddenly having the best access.”

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