Oscar Actors: Driver, Adam–Background, Career, Awards

Updated July 1, 2020
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Adam Douglas Driver (born November 19, 1983) is an American actor.[1][2] He is the recipient of numerous accolades, including a Volpi Cup, as well as nominations for two Academy Awards, three Emmy Awards, and a Tony Award.

A former Lance corporal in the United States Marine Corps, 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 Emmy nominations. Driver began his film career in supporting roles in films such as Lincoln (2012), Frances Ha (2012), Inside Llewyn Davis (2013), and Silence (2016). 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).

Driver gained wider recognition for playing Kylo Ren in the Star Wars sequel trilogy (2015–2019). In 2019, he returned to theater with Burn This, for which he was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play. He earned significant acclaim and nominations for two Academy Awards for his performance as a police detective in BlacKkKlansman (2018) and a theater director going through a divorce in Marriage Story (2019).[3]

Driver is the founder of Arts in the Armed Forces, a nonprofit that provides free arts programming to active-duty service members, veterans, military support staff, and their families around the world.

1 Early life
2 Career
2.1 Early career, Girls, and breakthrough (2009–2014)
2.2 Mainstream success (2015–present)
3 Personal life
4 Filmography
4.1 Film
4.2 Television
4.3 Video games
4.4 Stage
4.5 Theme park attractions
5 References
6 External links
Early life
Adam Douglas Driver was born on November 19, 1983,[4] in Fontana, California,[5] the son of Nancy Wright (née Needham), a paralegal, and Joe Douglas Driver.[6][7] He has Dutch, English, German, Irish, and Scottish ancestry.[8][better source needed] His father’s family is from Arkansas and his mother’s family is from Indiana. His stepfather, Rodney G. Wright, is a minister at a Baptist church.[9][10] When Driver was seven years old, he moved with his older sister and mother to his mother’s hometown Mishawaka, Indiana, where he graduated from Mishawaka High School in 2001.[11][12] He was raised Baptist and sang in the choir at church.[13]

Driver has described his teenage self as a “misfit”; he told M Magazine that he climbed radio towers, set objects on fire, and co-founded a fight club with friends, inspired by the 1999 film Fight Club.[14] After high school, he worked as a door-to-door salesman selling Kirby vacuum cleaners and as a telemarketer for a basement waterproofing company and Ben Franklin Construction.[15] He applied to the Juilliard School for drama but was rejected.[16]

Shortly after the September 11 attacks, Driver enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.[4] He was assigned to Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines as an 81mm mortar man.[17] He served for two years and eight months before fracturing his sternum while mountain biking.[18] He was medically discharged with the rank of Lance Corporal.

Subsequently, Driver attended the University of Indianapolis for a year before auditioning again for Juilliard, this time succeeding. Driver said that his classmates saw him as an intimidating and volatile figure, and he struggled to fit into a lifestyle so different from the Marines.[14] He was a member of the Drama Division’s Group 38 (2005–2009), where he met his future wife, Joanne Tucker. He graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2009.[19]

Early career, Girls, and breakthrough (2009–2014)

Driver at TIFF 2014
After graduating from Juilliard, Driver began his acting career in New York City, appearing in both Broadway and off-Broadway productions. Like many aspiring actors, he occasionally worked as a busboy and waiter.[20] Driver also appeared in several television shows and short films. His first on-screen appearance was in the series finale of The Unusuals in 2009 as a repentant witness and reluctant accomplice to an unsolved assault. He made his feature film debut in Clint Eastwood’s biographical drama J. Edgar in 2011.

In 2012, Driver was cast in the HBO comedy-drama series Girls, as the emotionally unstable Adam Sackler, the boyfriend of the lead character Hannah Horvath (Lena Dunham). He received three nominations for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for his role.[21] The same year, Driver played supporting roles in two critically acclaimed films, as telegraph and cipher officer Samuel Beckwith in Steven Spielberg’s historical drama Lincoln, and Lev Shapiro in Noah Baumbach’s comedy-drama Frances Ha.[22] He also appeared in the drama Not Waving But Drowning and the romantic-comedy Gayby. He garnered major off-Broadway recognition for playing Cliff, a working-class Welsh houseguest in Look Back in Anger, winning the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play.[23]

In 2013, Driver appeared in the drama Bluebird and the romantic-comedy What If. He played Al Cody, a musician, in the Coen Brothers’ black comedy Inside Llewyn Davis, and photographer Rick Smolan in the drama Tracks. In 2014, he played Jude, a despairing father, in the drama Hungry Hearts; Jaime, an aspiring filmmaker, in Noah Baumbach’s comedy While We’re Young; and Philip, the black sheep of a dysfunctional Jewish family, in the comedy-drama This Is Where I Leave You. For his performance in Hungry Hearts, Driver won the Volpi Cup for Best Actor at the 71st Venice International Film Festival.[24]

Mainstream success (2015–present)
In early 2014, Driver was cast as villain Kylo Ren in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015).[25][26] The Force Awakens was released on December 18, 2015 to commercial and critical success.[27] He reprised the role in The Last Jedi (2017)[28] and The Rise of Skywalker (2019).[29] His performance was positively received, with his character lauded as the best in the series: David Edelstein of Vulture wrote, “the core of The Last Jedi — of this whole trilogy, it seems — is Driver’s Kylo Ren, who ranks with cinema’s most fascinating human monsters.”[30] Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian highlighted Driver’s performance in his review of The Force Awakens, calling him “gorgeously cruel, spiteful and capricious… very suited to Kylo Ren’s fastidious and amused contempt for his enemies’ weakness and compassion.”[31]

In 2016, Driver played a supporting role in Jeff Nichols’ sci-fi thriller Midnight Special, which was released on March 18, 2016.[32][33] He also co-starred in Martin Scorsese’s historical drama Silence (2016) as Father Francisco Garupe, a 17th-century Portuguese Jesuit priest, alongside Andrew Garfield and Liam Neeson.[34][35] In preparation for the role, Driver lost almost 50 pounds.[36] Jim Jarmusch’s drama Paterson was Driver’s final film of 2016, in which he played the title character, a bus driver who writes poetry.[37] The film premiered at Cannes Film Festival and was released on December 28, 2016.[38][39] Driver’s performance was acclaimed[40][41] and he received multiple nominations for Best Actor from critics associations, winning several, including the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor.[42] Peter Travers of Rolling Stone wrote “Driver’s indelibly moving portrayal is so lived-in and lyrical you hardly recognize it as acting.”[43] Paterson was included in many critics’ top ten lists of best films of 2016.[44]

In 2017, Driver played a cameo in Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories as Randy, marking his third appearance in one of Baumbach’s films. The film premiered at Cannes Film Festival and was released on October 13, 2017 on Netflix.[45] He also portrayed Clyde, a one-armed Iraq War veteran, in Steven Soderbergh’s Logan Lucky, which was released on August 18, 2017.[46] In 2018, Driver portrayed a Jewish police detective, Phillip “Flip” Zimmerman, who helps infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan in Spike Lee’s comedy-drama BlacKkKlansman. The film premiered at Cannes Film Festival and was theatrically released on August 10.[47] He received critical acclaim for his performance in the film and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role and the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor. Driver also starred as the lead character Toby Grisoni in Terry Gilliam’s adventure-comedy The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, which also premiered at Cannes.[48]

In early 2019, Driver starred as Daniel Jones in Scott Z. Burns’ political drama The Report, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah. He returned to Broadway to play Pale against Keri Russell in a Michael Mayer-directed production of Lanford Wilson’s Burn This, receiving acclaim for his explosive performance and a nomination for the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play.[49] He was part of the ensemble cast of the Jim Jarmusch zombie comedy movie The Dead Don’t Die, which was released on June 14, 2019. Later the same year, he co-starred with Scarlett Johansson in Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival.[50][51] Reviewing the film in The Hollywood Reporter, critic Jon Frosch noted that Driver “delivers a brilliantly inhabited and shaded portrait” of a man undergoing a divorce.[52] He received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor.[53]

Driver will next star in Leos Carax’s music drama Annette, and in Ridley Scott’s period drama The Last Duel.[54][55][56] He is also set to star in Sylvester Stallone’s Tough As They Come.[57]

Personal life
Driver married Joanne Tucker in June 2013.[58] They have a son, whose birth they kept hidden from the press for two years.[59] They live in Brooklyn Heights with their son and dog.[60] Driver is the founder of Arts in the Armed Forces (AITAF), a nonprofit that performs theatre for all branches of the military in the United States and abroad.[61][62]

Driver has expressed on many occasions that he does not like to watch or listen to his own performances. During a radio interview with NPR’s Fresh Air he chose not to continue with the interview after the host played a clip from Marriage Story. The executive producer of the radio show later claimed that Driver was warned to take off his headphones before the clip played and that the show did something similar with Driver during a 2015 interview. During the same 2015 interview Driver is quoted as saying he hates viewing or listening to his works.[63]