Adam Driver's Life From Childhood To Hollywood Stardom

Living in 2023, only a few people across the globe can say they have never heard of or seen Adam Driver. Be it for his character in HBO's "Girls" or his phenomenal portrayal of Kylo Ren in the three most recent Star Wars films, Driver has made a name for himself in the television and film industry, as well as in nearly all American households.

Driver started dreaming of getting into the show business from a very young age and worked his way up through Hollywood for years to become a well-established actor in every sense of the word. While most people are already aware of his potential as an actor, only a few know what his life has been like prior to succeeding in the field.

Read on to learn more about the star and get a peek into his life, from his early childhood to all his acting and non-acting endeavors and accomplishments as of the time of this writing.

He grew up in Mishawaka, Indiana

Adam Douglas Driver was born in November 1983 to Nancy Wright and Joe Douglas Driver. At the age of seven, shortly after Nancy and Joe divorced, Driver moved from his birthplace, San Diego, to Mishawaka, Indiana, where he lived with his mother and stepfather, Rodney G. Wright. Being the stepson of a Baptist minister, Driver was raised Baptist. While in school, Driver tried his hand at a number of things, basketball and acting being two of them. While his basketball endeavors didn't turn out to be fruitful, he fell for acting with just one line that he had to deliver in a high school play.

In 2001, at the age of 17, Driver, a high school graduate with no intentions of getting into college, tried his luck and auditioned for Juilliard, only to get rejected. He took up several odd jobs and paid $200 each month to live in the back portion of his parent's house. Months later, Driver decided to head to California in the hope of starting an acting career but ran out of money within two days of his arrival. With a heavy heart, Driver returned to Mishawaka, back to his good old life with his parents. Recalling his Mishawaka-to-California-to-Mishawaka adventure during a 2013 interview with Newsweek Magazine, Driver explained, "You always read stories of people going out to California and making it as an actor with, like, two dollars, so I figured I'd try it."

He served as a Marine for nearly three years

Upon his return to Mishawaka, Adam Driver was given the suggestion of joining the Marine Corps by his stepfather, but he refused to do so. However, he changed his mind shortly after the September 11 attacks took place. According to, in 2002, soon after Driver turned 18, he joined the Corps and was assigned to Weapons Company at Camp Pendleton, California, as an 81mm mortar man. That said, his career as a Marine was short-lived. While looking forward to a deployment to Iraq, Driver was involved in a mountain biking accident that broke his sternum. "They said my sternum bounced off my heart sac, and if it had punctured it, I'd probably be dead," Driver told Newsweek Magazine.

His injury was further aggravated while on a hike with a 90-pound pack, prompting him to be discharged from the Marine Corps in 2004, two years and eight months after his joining. "I was depressed for a long time after that. All the guys that I was in boot camp with were overseas doing their job, and I wasn't with them. It took a long time to get over the guilt," he noted. In 2006, he went on to found Arts in the Armed Forces (a non-profit) with his wife, aiming to bring arts programming to Americans involved and previously involved with the military as well as their families at no cost. The organization dissolved in February 2023.

He graduated From Juilliard in 2009

As IMDB notes, following his dismissal from the Corps, Adam Driver pursued higher studies at the University of Indianapolis for a year. To make ends meet while in Indianapolis, Driver took up a job as a security guard at a Target distribution center (per WWD). On a regular workday, Driver got a call on his phone, and it was from an administrator from Juilliard's drama department, who informed the then-future star that he had been accepted to attend the school based on his 2005 Juilliard audition. Recollecting the memories of that particular day during a 2014 interview with WWD, Driver noted, "I was with the other security guard, and I told him and he was really excited and we were both yelling."

As one would expect, Driver put an end to his university life and moved to New York to pursue his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the school of his dreams, graduating with the class of 2009. Speaking of his second audition, which got him into Juilliard, Driver revealed to Seth Meyers during a segment of "Late Night With Seth Meyers" that he needed to perform one contemporary monologue and one classical monologue and sing a song for the audition. For his first monologue, he chose one from a monologue book. "I hadn't even read the play," he said. For the classical piece, he performed a "Richard III" soliloquy and went with "Happy Birthday" for the song he had to sing.

He rose to fame with the HBO series 'Girls'

After graduating from Juilliard, Adam Driver got into theater, and in 2010, he acted in a Broadway production of George Bernard Shaw's "Mrs. Warren's Profession," making his Broadway debut. He then began playing small parts in TV shows and had a trifling role in Clint Eastwood's 2011 biopic "J. Edgar." Driver finally got his big break when he was cast as Adam Sackler in HBO's comedy series "Girls." Created by Lena Dunham, the show ran from 2012 to 2017, with Driver portraying Sackler — the main love interest of Lena Dunham's Hannah Horvath — for the first five seasons.

With his performance as Sackler, Driver earned himself three Emmy nominations for three consecutive years — from 2013 to 2015 — as well as a huge amount of popularity, especially among the female audience of the show. However, as Driver told Vulture, he almost turned down the opportunity to be a part of "Girls," but going through the script made him change his mind. "TV's the devil, whatever, but then I read the thing. Lena is a very rare writer, very unpretentious. When things become precious or sentimental, that kills it for me," he said.

He married his college sweetheart in 2013

Adam Driver met his now-wife and actor Joanne Tucker while studying drama at Juilliard in New York City. Although the couple keeps their relationship away from the spotlight, it can be assumed that they met during their initial years at the school since Driver was accepted to attend Juilliard in 2005, and the couple founded Arts in the Armed Forces in 2006. Per Elle, Driver and Tucker got engaged in 2012 and tied the knot the very next year. The pair was rumored to have welcomed their first child, a son, in 2016, but they kept the birth a secret for about four years.

Although Driver kept denying all speculations regarding his having a child for a long time, he revealed his identity as a father while hosting the first Saturday Night Live episode of 2020. "I'm a husband. And a father. It's in that order though. I've been very clear with my son about that, he's second in everything," he said, addressing the audience. In February 2023, Tucker was photographed on the streets of New York City with her husband — and a baby bump. Although Tucker and Driver keep their relationship as private as possible, they're often seen on the red carpets of various events. That said, their joint appearances aren't limited to award functions. They've starred in a 2016 short film called "The Basement," and Tucker has made a cameo alongside Driver in "Girls" as well.

Playing Kylo Ren earned him international recognition

For the "Star Wars" sequel trilogy, Adam Driver was the "Chosen One" to play Kylo Ren — the villainous grandson of Darth Vader and disciple of Supreme Leader Snoke. Needless to say, the Force has been strong with Driver ever since. While "Girls" earned him the status of a well-known face across America, playing one of the greatest antagonists in cinematic history brought him worldwide fame and love. This time, that love came from viewers of all genders and ages. However, admiration and popularity weren't the only yardsticks of his excellent portrayal of Kylo Ren, and one look at the list of awards and nominations earned by Driver on his IMDb profile is enough of a proof.

As unbelievable as it sounds, in a 2015 interview with Howard Stern, Driver revealed that he never really auditioned for "Star Wars." J.J. Abrams, the director of "Star Wars: Force Awakens" (the first installment of the sequel trilogy), offered Driver the role over a meet-and-greet session. "I went out to meet J.J. and we did a meet and greet thing ... He couldn't tell me, really, anything about the part either. At that point, it was just to look at me," Driver said. No matter how he was selected, we all can agree that the casting was on point and that Driver totally aced his performance throughout the trilogy — improving even more with "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" and "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker."

He caused serious controversy by once walking out mid-interview

Back in 2019, Adam Driver walked out of NPR's New York office during a "Fesh Air" interview that was being hosted by Terry Gross from the Philadelphia studio of the show. Driver was there to promote his film, "Marriage Story," and it happened when audio of him singing Stephen Sondheim's "Being Alive" from the movie was played during the discussion. The show's executive producer, Danny Miller, told Variety that they were aware of Driver facing discomfort when watching or listening to his previous performances, and they figured a way out to play the clip while also ensuring he was comfortable — something they did during Driver's 2015 interview with them. "Terry invited him to take off his headphones while we played back the 20-second clip, and that our engineer in New York would cue him to put his headphones back on after the clip ended," Miller said. However, Driver chose to leave the studio this time.

His action caused several heated discussions on the internet, with some perceiving it as rude and inconsiderate and others defending his choice to prioritize his mental health over everything else. As Driver put it during his 2015 Howard Stern interview, he doesn't like the fact that he cannot rectify the mistakes that he thinks he made in his work when he watches it being played. "I came from a theater background where you don't get to see it," Driver explained further.

He has acted in several other cinematic and theatrical masterpieces ever since

Adam Driver has been stepping his game up with each of his movies and on-and-off-Broadway performances. For his extraordinary performance as a disabled Iraq War veteran in Spike Lee's 2018 film "BlacKkKlansman," Driver won nominations for the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role and the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor. In 2019, Driver earned himself a nomination for the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play by acting as Pale in Michael Mayer's Broadway rendition of Lanford Wilson's "Burn This," as well as a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor by playing the male lead in Noah Baumbach's Netflix movie, "Marriage Story." Another of his most acclaimed roles is Maurizio Gucci, a character he successfully brought to life in Ridley Scott's biographical crime drama, "House of Gucci."

Despite leading a successful acting career for at least the past decade, Driver is still cynical about his achievements. As he established during a 2019 interview with The New Yorker, "Doubt is part of being committed to something, I think ... I feel that with religion. I feel that with acting. I feel that with marriage. I feel that with being a parent. I'm constantly filled with doubt, regardless of what I've accomplished. It doesn't mean anything. You still don't know how to do anything, really."

He was named the honorary starter for the 2023 Indy 500 race

On May 28, 2023, Adam Driver served as the honorary starter and waved the green flag to begin the 107th running of the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race, commonly referred to as the Indy 500. Indy 500, which is known to be held on Memorial Day every year, features several ceremonies to honor the Armed Forces of the United States. Some common traditions include executing enlistment ceremonies, playing "Taps," and exhibiting helicopters and equipment used by the military. When announcing that Driver was named the honorary star for the event, J. Douglas Boles, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway President, explained why it makes sense for Driver to play the part.

"Race day is full of meaning for our drivers, our fans across the globe and most especially our active-duty military members and veterans. Adam is not only a star recognized across the world but also a former U.S. Marine who will be a very fitting addition to 'The Greatest Spectacle in Racing," Boles said (via ESPN). As for his connection with the automobile industry, Driver will soon be seen as Enzo Ferrari, the founder of the famous car manufacturing company named after his surname, in the upcoming biopic of the tycoon. The movie, titled "Ferrari," is directed by Michael Mann and is scheduled to be released in September 2023.