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Adam Driver's Most Memorable Quotes on Being an Actor: 'Loss of Anonymity is a Big Thing'

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Driver took up acting after being medically discharged from the Marine Corps due to a sternum injury — and throughout his steady rise to fame, he’s continued to apply the lessons he learned from his time in the service. In 2006, he founded a nonprofit, Arts in the Armed Forces, which strives to provide military members with top-of-the-line theatre performances for free. 

“Acting is a service and I did not get to finish mine. So, whenever I get to be of service to this ultimate service industry, the military, for me there is nothing better than that,” he explained during a Ted Talk on his journey from Marine to actor.   

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“I don’t take doing a play or making a movie for granted: We’re here, right now, and we’re never going to get a chance to do this again. It always seems like a miracle when someone is willing to pay for us to do that,” he told Vulture of his gratitude to be acting. 

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Speaking to Vulture about how his acting career compares to his time in the Marines, Driver admitted that unlike the military, “Acting is not set up to be a collective effort,” because “there’s more bureaucracy to navigate.”

“I’d never realized that most of your job in acting is managing personalities and talking about your job. Only, like, 10 percent is the actual doing of it,” he told the outlet. “Sometimes that 10 percent is all you need to keep motivated but often there’s so much bulls—,” he continued before cutting himself off. “Never mind. I don’t want to complain about having a great job. I don’t want to be that guy. What am I trying to say? Obviously in the arts people have more liberty to be individual, but I still think of the work as a group effort. I’m not saying my view is better than anyone else’s but it can be at odds with someone who thinks, No, you guys are here to support me with my effort.”

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Of the impact his demanding role in Silence had on him, Driver told Vulture, “Without sounding pretentious, which is impossible, I’m trying to mean it as much as I can. So I want to work with people who are taking things seriously. There’s a quote I stole from an interview with Thelma Schoonmaker. It’s something like, ‘Making a movie is like having to take a piss.’ It’s so urgent. That’s how I feel.”

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After taking the role of Kylo Ren in the Star Wars franchise, Driver skyrocketed to a new level of stardom — one he told The Guardian has changed his life primarily in terms of being more frequently recognized.

“As a person, I’m the same. The problems I had before Force Awakens, it didn’t solve any of them,” he said. “For me, the only noticeable difference is your visibility as a person. Loss of anonymity is a big thing. I didn’t realize how I would see that in a billion little ways.”

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Speaking further to The Guardian about the impact of the loss on anonymity, he continued, “[…] part of my job is being anonymous and I think being able to live, to observe more than to be observed, is important. [Being famous] seems counterintuitive to my job. It’s a weird dynamic when you walk into a room and there’s an image people project onto you.” 

“What it means to lose anonymity is a bougie problem in and of itself,” he said, interrupting himself. “And I won’t garner sympathy, nor am I asking for it. The image of us on our red carpet wearing expensive suits, where people naturally assume your life is, is not what I was after when I started this job. Believe it or not.”

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Driver is notoriously unable to watch his own work, to a degree The New Yorker called “a phobia.” Telling the outlet about the first time he watched his own scene in Girls, he explained, “That’s when I was, like, I can’t watch myself in things. I certainly can’t watch this if we’re going to continue doing it.” 

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