Earlier this month, he opened in Daniel Talbott's Slipping, a new play about a high school student's provocative new relationship with another boy, at the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater in Greenwich Village. Driver won admiring reviews for his performance as a cruel, closeted homosexual who takes his anger with himself out on his young partner, Eli. At the same time Driver was performing in Slipping, he was rehearsing days for his next job, Daniel Goldfarb's The Retributionists at Playwrights Horizons. If you're a fellow actor and you want to complain about Driver's immediate employability, you can tell it to the Marines. No, really. Before Driver became an actor, he was a Marine. The Indiana native talked to Playbill.com about how the military makes for a darn fine acting school.
Playbill.com: How did you come to get the role in Slipping?
Adam Driver: We first did a reading of it at the end of the [Juilliard] school year, I think in May or so. Daniel Talbott, who's a Juilliard guy, came and saw me in a show, so he asked me to be in this reading. The reading went pretty well, so they gave me a call and asked me to do the play at Rattlestick.
Playbill.com: Did you just recently graduate from Juilliard?
AD: This past spring.
Playbill.com: So you've hit the ground running.
AD: Yeah. (Laughs) So far.
Playbill.com: Was it difficult portraying your character in Slipping? An old saw says that ever actor finds a way to like the person he's playing. Chris is a tortured, closeted jock who treats the central character, Eli, very badly.
AD: To me, it seemed Chris was struggling with having to deal with addiction. He's addicted to Eli. That was something that resonated for me. It's something that he knows isn't tolerated in his circle of friends — a homosexual relationship. Yet he wants it so badly. That struggle resonates with me and interests me. So it wasn't very hard to really get excited to dive into that mindset. Playbill.com: Where were you born?
AD: I was born in California. When I was six we moved to a small town in northern Indiana called Mishawaka. I graduated from high school and worked a bunch of odd jobs, and then decided to join the Marine Corps for a couple years. Then I got out and went to college at the University of Indianapolis. Then I auditioned for Juilliard and got in.
Playbill.com: It's not many people who have been both in the Marines and Juilliard.
AD: (Laughs) No. I think I might be the first Marine. Maybe there was one other Marine before me.
Playbill.com: How long were you in the service?
AD: I was in for two-and-a-half years, actually. It was an eight-year contract, four years on and four years off. But I broke my sternum two months before we were supposed to deploy to Iraq, in a mountain biking accident. They said it was fine and I could go. Then I went back in training and ended up injuring it worse.
Playbill.com: Has your experience as a Marine helped you as an actor, discipline-wise?
AD: I think definitely. I think some of my best theatre training has been in the Marine Corps. Not only meeting a bunch of characters, but growing up. You're in really adult situations at a young age, as far as being in charge of people. I was in the infantry, so I think our concept of life was very different from normal people in college at that time. That kind of discipline makes you grow up quick, and helps you at times like now when you have to be coming out of the gate at Juilliard. You have to be forward-moving and able to balance a lot of things at the same time. I attribute a lot of that to the Marine Corps and Juilliard both.
Playbill.com: I guess compared to the Marines, the perils of the New York acting scene don't look so daunting.
AD: Right. The only difference, I suppose, is me getting up at five o'clock in the morning, as opposed to someone yelling at me to get up at five o'clock in the morning.