11 Fascinating Facts About Adam Driver

Gareth Cattermole, Getty Images for Disney
Gareth Cattermole, Getty Images for Disney

With the combination of his talent and intriguing aura, it’s hard not to be a little fascinated by the force that is Adam Driver. Unsurprisingly, he has earned a reputation for his intensity, although he denies knowing where that came from. The actor—who is celebrating his 35th birthday today—rose to fame with his role on HBO’s Girls, and has since become a household name as the brooding Kylo Ren in the newest Star Wars trilogy. Here are 11 things you might not know about Emmy-nominated actor.

1. HE JOINED THE MARINES AFTER 9/11.

When Adam Driver was rejected by Juilliard the first time he applied, he went on try and make it as an actor on his own, but met with little success. It wasn’t until 9/11 that he knew what he had to do. “I was having an argument with my stepfather, and he was like, ‘Why don’t you join the Marine Corps?’ And I was like, ‘Noooo! Well, maybe, actually ...' I went and saw the recruiter, who was like, ‘Are you on the run from the cops? Because we’ve never had someone want to leave so fast,'" Driver told Rolling Stone.

His military experience only strengthened his determination to find success as an actor. “I was like, ‘I’m going to smoke cigarettes and be an actor when I get out.’ Those were my two thoughts,” he said. “I wanted to smoke cigarettes and be an actor.”

2. HE STARTED HIS OWN FIGHT CLUB IN SCHOOL.

Adam Driver in Logan Lucky (2017)
Claudette Barius, Fingerprint Releasing

Driver, who has described his younger self as a misfit, revealed that he was inspired to start a fight club at school, after seeing David Fincher's 1999 adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk's novel.

“They had a big grassy field behind f***in’ Celebrations Unlimited, an event space that people rent out to get married or whatever, and we would go out there in the middle of the night and beat the s**t out of our neighbors,” Driver told Rolling Stone.

3. HE MOVED TO HOLLYWOOD AS A TEEN … BUT ONLY LASTED TWO DAYS.

During the time period between being rejected from Juilliard and joining the Marines, Driver moved to Hollywood to pursue his dream of becoming an actor. However, things didn’t go exactly as planned: His car broke down in Texas, and by the time he got to California he was out of money and had to go back home after two days.

“It was really embarrassing, actually,” Driver said. “I had said goodbye to friends and family, like, ‘So long, guys! I’m out of this s**thole town, on to something!’ Literally, like, four days later I was moving back in with my fridge."

4. HIS SECOND ATTEMPT AT GETTING INTO JUILLIARD WAS MORE SUCCESSFUL.

The second time Driver applied to Juilliard, he was accepted, and found much more than an educational foundation. It was while studying at Juilliard that he met his future wife, Joanne Tucker. They have been married since 2013.

5. HIS EARLY APPROACH TO ACTING WAS RATHER INTENSE.

Adam Driver and Jemima Kirke in 'Girls'
HBO

Coming from the Marines, Driver was admittedly quite intense while attending Juilliard his first year. “I made people in my school cry because it was just the way I was used to talking to people,” he told WWD. “I felt like I wanted to do it! Really hard! Whatever it was! And I needed to calm down a little bit."

6. HE INITIALLY HAD NO INTEREST IN AUDITIONING FOR GIRLS.

The role that catapulted Driver to fame almost didn’t happen for him. The actor admitted he passed on auditioning for Girls at first, not wanting to be on TV. In an interview with Bustle, he admitted that his original thought was, "TV’s the devil, whatever, but then I read the thing. Lena [Dunham] is a very rare writer, very unpretentious. When things become precious or sentimental, that kills it for me.” He ended up playing the role of Adam Sackler for all six seasons of the critically acclaimed series.

For her part, Dunham admitted that she was just as impressed by Driver. In fact, she she said that she was totally “starstruck” by him, even though she had never seen him before. He walked in for a screen test holding a motorcycle helmet, which Dunham thought was “highly intriguing.” She got up from the casting table and read with him, and later revealed that, “All I could mutter was, ‘Wow, you have the same name as this character,’ like a total dingbat.”

7. HE'S A TALENTED MUSICIAN.

Apart from being a great actor, Driver is also a talented singer. Growing up, both his father and stepfather were preachers, and he sang in the church choir. He got to show off his singing skills (somewhat) in Joel and Ethan Coens's Inside Llewyn Davis. He also plays the piano.

8. HE LOST 50 POUNDS FOR SILENCE.

When Driver landed the lead role in Martin Scorsese's 2016 historical drama Silence, he understandably took the role seriously. He dropped 50 pounds to play a Jesuit priest—30 pounds before production, and 20 more while filming.

"You're so hungry and so tired at some points that there's nothing you can do—you're not adding anything on top of what you're doing," he told Interview on the experience. "You only have enough energy to convey what you're doing, so it's great." However, he was sure to add, “I don't think I've ever taken it to the extreme before."

9. HE STARTED A NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION FOR SOLDIERS.

Along with Tucker, Driver helps soldiers with Arts in the Armed Forces, a nonprofit organization he founded in 2008. Their mission is to bring “high-quality arts programming to active duty service members, veterans, military support staff, and their families around the world free of charge.” Based on his own experiences, Driver believes that theater communities can be a beneficial resource for soldiers and veterans who might have a tough time expressing what they’re going through transitioning back to normal life.

10. HE’S RUMORED TO HAVE A SECRET SON.

A recent report going around claims Driver and his wife have a secret son. According to Page Six, the couple have a two-year-old they’ve managed to keep out of the spotlight. Sources told the publication that family members had documented Tucker’s pregnancy on Instagram.

11. HE REFUSES TO WATCH HIS OWN MOVIES.

Adam Driver in Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015)
Lucasfilm

Driver has admitted he has a hard time not being in control. Like many actors, he's uncomfortable watching himself on screen. Because of this, he stopped watching himself in roles after the pilot for Girls—though he did make an exception for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

"Because we did so much work on it … It seemed like I should try getting over it,” Driver explained of his decision to watch The Force Awakens. “And it’s Star Wars. I literally can’t believe that I was in it."

10 Sweet Facts About Napoleon Dynamite

© 2004 Twentieth Century Fox
© 2004 Twentieth Century Fox

ChapStick, llamas, and tater tots are just a few things that appear in Napoleon Dynamite, a cult film shot for a mere $400,000 that went on to gross $44.5 million. In 2002, Brigham Young University film student Jared Hess filmed a black-and-white short, Peluca, with his classmate Jon Heder. The film got accepted into the Slamdance Film Festival, which gave Hess the courage to adapt it into a feature. Hess used his real-life upbringing in Preston, Idaho—he had six brothers and his mom owned llamas—to form the basis of the movie, about a nerdy teenager named Napoleon (Heder) who encourages his friend Pedro (Efren Ramirez) to run for class president.

In 2004, the indie film screened at Sundance, and was quickly purchased by Fox Searchlight and Paramount, then released less than six months later. Today, the film remains so popular that in 2016 Pedro and Napoleon reunited for a cheesy tots Burger King commercial. To celebrated the film's 15th anniversary, here are some facts about the ever-quotable comedy.

1. Deb is based on Jerusha Hess.

Jared Hess’s wife Jerusha co-wrote the film and based Deb on her own life. “Her mom made her a dress when she was going to a middle school dance and she said, ‘I hadn’t really developed yet, so my mom overcompensated and made some very large, fluffy shoulders,’” Jared told Rolling Stone. “Some guy dancing with her patted the sleeves and actually said, ‘I like your sleeves … they’re real big.'"

Tina Majorino, who played the fictional Deb, hadn’t done a comedy before, because people thought of her as a dramatic actress. "The fact that Jared would even let me come in and read really appealed to me," she told Rolling Stone. "Even if I didn’t get the role, I just wanted to see what it was like to audition for a comedy, as I’d never done it before."

2. Napoleon's famous dance scene was the result of having extra film stock.

At the end of shooting Peluca, Hess had a minute of film stock left and knew Heder liked to dance. Heder had on moon boots—something Hess used to wear—so they traveled to the end of a dirt road. They turned on the car radio and Jamiroquai’s “Canned Heat” was playing. “I just told him to start dancing and realized: This is how we’ve got to end the film,” Hess told Rolling Stone. “You don’t anticipate those kinds of things. They’re just part of the creative process.”

Heder told HuffPost he found inspiration in Michael Jackson and dancing in front of a mirror, for the end-of-the-movie skit. But when it came time to film the dance for the feature, Heder felt "pressure" to deliver. “I was like, ‘Oh, crap!’ This isn’t just a silly little scene,” he told PDX Monthly. “This is the moment where everything comes, and he’s making the sacrifice for his friend. That’s the whole theme of the movie. Everything leads up to this. Napoleon’s been this loser. This has to be the moment where he lands a victory.” Instead of hiring a choreographer, the filmmakers told him to “just figure it out.” They filmed the scene three times with three different songs, including Jamiroquai’s “Little L” and “Canned Heat.”

3. Napoleon Dynamitefans still flock to Preston, Idaho to tour the movie's locations.

In a 2016 interview with The Salt Lake Tribune, The Preston Citizen’s circulation manager, Rhonda Gregerson, said “every summer at least 50 groups of fans walk into the office wanting to know more about the film.” She said people come from all over the world to see Preston High School, Pedro’s house, and other filming locations as a layover before heading to Yellowstone National Park. “If you talk to a lot of people in Preston, you’ll find a lot of people who have become a bit sick of it,” Gregerson said. “I still think it’s great that there’s still so much interest in the town this long after the movie.”

Besides the filming locations, the town used to host a Napoleon Dynamite festival. In 2005, the fest drew about 6000 people and featured a tater tot eating contest, a moon boot dancing contest, boondoggle keychains for sale, and a tetherball tournament. The fest was last held in 2008.

4. Idaho adopted a resolution commending the filmmakers.

'Napoleon Dynamite' filmmakers Jerusha and Jared Hess
Jerusha and Jared Hess
Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images

In 2005, the Idaho legislature wrote a resolution praising Jared and Jerusha Hess and the city of Preston. HCR029 appreciates the use of tater tots for “promoting Idaho’s most famous export.” It extols bicycling and skateboarding to promote “better air quality,” and it says Kip and LaFawnduh’s relationship “is a tribute to e-commerce and Idaho’s technology-driven industry.” The resolution goes on to say those who “vote Nay on this concurrent resolution are Freakin’ Idiots.” Napoleon would be proud.

5. Napoleon was a different kind of nerd.

Sure, he was awkward, but Napoleon wasn’t as intelligent as other film nerds. “He’s not a genius,” Heder told HuffPost. “Maybe he’s getting good grades, but he’s not excelling; he’s just socially awkward. He doesn’t know how much of an outcast he is, and that’s what gives him that confidence. He’s trying to be cool sometimes, but mostly he just goes for it and does it.”

6. The title sequence featured several different sets of hands..

Eight months before the theatrical release, Fox Searchlight had Hess film a title sequence that made it clear that the film took place in 2004, not in the ’80s or ’90s. Napoleon’s student ID reveals the events occur during the 2004-2005 school year. Heder’s hands move the objects in and out of the frame, but Fox didn’t like his hangnails. “They flew out a hand model a couple weeks later, who had great hands, but was five or six shades darker than Jon Heder,” Hess told Art of the Title. “If you look, there are like three different dudes’ hands—our producer’s are in there, too.”

7. Napoleon Dynamite messed up Netflix's algorithms.

Beginning in 2006, Cinematch—Netflix’s recommendation algorithm software—held a contest called The Netflix Prize. Anyone who could make Cinematch’s predictions at least 10 percent more accurate would win $1 million. Computer scientist Len Bertoni had trouble predicting whether people would like Napoleon Dynamite. Bertoni told The New York Times the film is “polarizing,” and the Netflix ratings are either one or five stars. If he could accurately predict whether people liked the movie, Bertoni said, then he’d come much closer to winning the prize. That didn’t happen for him.

The contest finally ended in 2009 when Netflix awarded the grand prize to BellKor’s Pragmatic Chaos, who developed a 10.06 percent improvement over Cinematch’s score.

8. Napoleon accidentally got a bad perm.


© 2004 Twentieth Century Fox

Heder got his hair permed the night before shooting began—but something went wrong. Heder called Jared and said, “‘Yeah, I got the perm but it’s a little bit different than it was before,’” Hess told Rolling Stone. “He showed up the night before shooting and he looked like Shirley Temple! The curls were huge!” They didn’t have much time to fix the goof, so Hess enlisted Jerusha and her cousin to re-perm it. It worked, but Jon wasn’t allowed to wash his hair for the next three weeks. “So he had this stinky ‘do in the Idaho heat for three weeks,” Jared said. “We were shooting near dairy farms and there were tons of flies; they were all flying in and out of his hair.”

9. LaFawnduh's real-life family starred in the film.

Shondrella Avery played LaFawnduh, the African American girlfriend of Kip, Napoleon’s older brother (played by Aaron Ruell). Before filming, Hess phoned Avery and said, “‘You remember that there were no black people in Preston, Idaho, right? Do you think your family might want to be in the movie?’ And that’s how it happened,” Avery told Los Angeles Weekly. Her actual family shows up at the end when LaFawnduh and Kip get married.

10. A short-lived animated series acted as a sequel.

In 2012, Fox aired six episodes of Napoleon Dynamite the animated series before they canceled it. All of the original actors returned to supply voices to their characters. The only difference between the film and the series is Kip is not married. Heder told Rolling Stone the episodes are as close to a sequel as fans will get. “If you sit down and watch those back to back, you’ve got yourself a sequel,” he said. “Because you’ve got all the same characters and all the same actors.”

This story has been updated for 2019.

Harry Potter Fans Are Waiting 10 Hours or More to Ride Hagrid’s Roller Coaster

Universal Orlando
Universal Orlando

Muggles will do anything to be a part of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Universal Orlando opened up its newest ride this week at its version of Hogsmeade, the village that surrounds Hogwarts castle. Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure takes wannabe wizards and witches on a twisting, high-speed flight through the mystical Forbidden Forest.

Diehard fans began waiting overnight outside the park in anticipation of the ride, and it looks like just about everyone had the same idea. At 8:30 a.m. on opening day, the line was already eight hours long, and quickly stretched to 10 hours long by 10:30 a.m., CNN reports.

The line is worth the wait for many fans of the franchise. As Potterheads already know, Rubeus Hagrid, beloved friend of Harry Potter and the gang, has a special affinity for mysterious creatures. So who better to see the beasts of the forest with than the half-giant?

Participants on the ride can choose to sit in Hagrid’s sidecar or in the driver’s seat. The winding track includes appearances by some of our favorite wizards, like Arthur Weasley, and creatures benevolent and otherwise, such as Cornish pixies, massive spiders, and the three-headed dog, Fluffy.

Fans aren’t the only ones wanting to experience the ride. Some of the stars of the film series had a little reunion in Orlando this week to celebrate the opening, including Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) and Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood).

Unlike the fans, however, they have magic (fame) to keep them from having to wait in 10-hour lines.

Happy riding, Potterheads!

[h/t CNN]

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