LCpl Adam Douglas Driver, USMC (2001-2004)
I’m going to start a series of posts about famous Marines, and the first Marine, is Adam Driver. I selected Adam randomly from my list of famous Marines. I have to say that I have seen several of the films that Adam has been in and he is a very strong actor.
Directly from Wikipedia – Adam Douglas Driver (born November 19, 1983) is an American actor. He is the recipient of various accolades, including the Venice Film Festival Volpi Cup for Best Actor, in addition to nominations for a Tony Award, two Academy Awards, two British Academy Film Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, and four Primetime Emmy Awards. Martin Scorsese has called Driver “one of the finest, if not the finest” actors of his generation.
Driver made his Broadway debut in Mrs. Warren’s Profession (2010) and subsequently appeared in Man and Boy (2011). He rose to prominence with a supporting role in the HBO comedy-drama series Girls (2012–2017), for which he received three consecutive Primetime Emmy nominations. Driver began his film career in supporting roles in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln (2012), Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha (2012), and the Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis (2013). He won the Volpi Cup for Best Actor for his lead role in the drama Hungry Hearts (2014) and starred as a poet in Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson (2016), the missionary in Scorsese’s religious epic Silence (2016), and Steven Soderbergh’s heist comedy Logan Lucky (2017).
Driver gained wider recognition for playing Ben Solo / Kylo Ren in the Star Wars sequel trilogy (2015–2019). In 2019, he returned to theater in the Broadway revival of Burn This, for which he was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play. He garnered consecutive Academy Award nominations; Best Supporting Actor for Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman (2018), and Best Actor for Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story (2019). In 2021, he starred in the musical Annette and two films directed by Ridley Scott, the medieval drama The Last Duel and the crime drama House of Gucci.
And as you guessed, Adam is a Marine as well, I mean that is the basis of this post. Adam joined the Corps in 2001 after Sept 11th at the age of 18. Adam joined the Corps so quickly that his recruiter suspected something was fishy like maybe he was running from the law. Adam told The New Yorker in 2019 “We were attacked, I want to fight for my country against whoever that is.” Adam stated that he chose the Marines as they were the toughest. “They kind of got me with their whole ‘We don’t give you signing bonuses. We’re the hardest branch of the armed forces. You’re not going to get all this cushy shit that the Navy or the Army gives you. It’s going to be hard,’” Adam stated.
He went to boot camp at MCRD San Diego and claims that it was “brutal”. After boot camp, Adam went to “A” School at Camp Pendleton. After school, Adam was assigned to Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, California, as an 81mm mortar man.
Just a few months away from deploying to Iraq, (two years and eight months into his contract) while mountain biking at Camp Horno (in Camp Pendleton) he fractured his sternum. Adam, like most Marines, pushed through the pain until, after a forced march with a 90-pound pack, he was hospitalized. As a result of that hospitalization, he was medically discharged with the rank of Lance Corporal in 2004.
Adam states that he loved the Marine Corps and it is the accomplishment that he is the most proud of. And not being able to deploy to Iraq was very devastating to him. He states that he was devastated and embarrassed that his fellow Marines went and did the thing that they were trained to do and he felt like a piece of shit. In his TED talk, he points out that those who were never in the military don’t understand why he would be so devastated. Myself, being a Marine that never got deployed to combat, I share Adam’s feelings and I feel less of a Marine than I should for that very fact.
Now a civilian, Adam picked himself up, enrolled in college, and once again got involved in theatre. He auditioned for Juilliard (his second attempt) and he was accepted this time. Shortly after graduating, he started to land acting gigs.
In today’s Hollywood, Adam is the exception to the rule. If you rewind some 50-60 years ago, a fair portion of the actors and actresses served in the military, but today, that list of younger actors and actresses, who have served is very slim. I’m not going to talk about how Adam got into acting, instead I’m going to focus on the Marine and the core values that have been instilled into Adam. Like many of us who have served, Adam was not born into privilege. He was born into success and as he will tell you in his TED talk, he had to earn his way. Adam had appeared in many different films, yet he was not known to the general public until he played the villain Kylo Ren in Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015.
Adam stated that he loved the Corps and he misses it. While he was in, his fellow Marines gave him a special nickname. “Ears”. I wonder where that name came from 🙂 In his TED Talk Adam states: “I found I loved the Marine Corps the most for the thing I was looking for the least when I joined, which was the people – a weird motley crew of characters from a cross-section of the United States that on the surface I had nothing in common with. Over time, all of the political and personal bravado that led me to the military dissolved. And, for me, the Marine Corps became synonymous with my friends.”
Driver is the founder of Arts in the Armed Forces (AITAF), a non-profit that performs theatre for all branches of the military in the United States and abroad.