Fact: Adam Driver was once a Marine. The star of HBO's Girls and Star Wars: Episode VII opened up to GQ in its September 2014 issue about the transition from serving the United States of America to acting in Hollywood.
"It just seemed like a badass thing to do," Driver, 30, said of joining the armed forces after 9/11. "To go and shoot machine guns and serve your country." After enlisting, the San Diego native underwent rigorous training at Camp Pendleton in Calif.
"It's hard to describe," he recalled of that time period. "You're put in these very heightened circumstances, and you learn a lot about who people are at the core, I think. You end up having this very intimate relationship where you would, like, die for these people."
Two years after he joined, Driver was medically discharged after breaking his sternum during a mountain bike ride. "To this day, being sent home early "f—in' kills me," the actor told GQ. "To not get to go with that group of people I had been training with was…painful."
Instead, Driver decided to pursue an alternative "challenge" in acting. The star, who had previously been rejected by Juilliard, reapplied to the famed arts school located in NYC. "The Marines Corps is supposed to be the toughest and most rigorous of its class," Driver said, alluding to Juilliard as its creative counterpart. "Obviously the stakes are different. You have the risk of getting shot or killed in one and just embarrassed in the other," he said. "I thought, this will be easy," Driver added, although the actor joked, "I made a lot of people cry."
So what do his tough Marine pals think of his role as Lena Dunham's awkwardly charming boyfriend on Girls? "They were like, 'So, I saw your f—in' show,'" Driver said. "'And you're f—in' naked a lot. So, OK. Tell me when the next thing comes out.'" The actor didn't even tell his parents about his breakout role on Girls until season two had ended. "What was I going to tell them?" Driver said with a laugh. "'I just masturbated on some girl's chest?'"
While the comedy series launched his career, Driver admitted that his overnight stardom came almost too easily. "In a way, I don’t feel like I’ve really put in my dues. Like it doesn't feel earned," he said. "My plan was to be able to make a living as an actor. And then everything else just…"
Driver also opened up to GQ about Arts in the Armed Forces, an organization he founded with his wife, Joanne Tucker. "Life's s—ty, and we're all gonna die," he said. "You have friends, and they die. You have a disease, someone you care about has a disease, Wall Street people are scamming everyone, the poor get poorer, the rich get richer. That’s what we’re surrounded by all the time. We don’t understand why we’re here, no one’s giving us an answer, religion is vague, your parents can’t help because they’re just people, and it’s all terrible, and there’s no meaning to anything. What a terrible thing to process! Every. Day. And then you go to sleep. But then sometimes, things can suspend themselves for like a minute, and then every once in a while there’s something where you find a connection."
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