If you’ve been paying attention to which veterans have made their way into Hollywood circles, then you probably know about Adam Driver. He plays in the latest “Star Wars” installments as Kylo Ren, and has also played in “Inside Llewyn Davis,” the TV Series “Girls” and Martin Scorsese’s “Silence.” He plays a disabled veterandisabled veterandisabled veteran who lost his hand in “Logan Lucky,” alongside Channing Tatum.
Driver enlisted in the United States Marine Corps shortly after 9/11. He served as an 81mm mortarman in 1st Battalion, 1st Marines out of Camp Pendleton, CA. He was there for two years, but never deployed — shortly before his unit was set to head overseas, he was injured in a mountain biking accident, breaking his sternum. This began his medical discharge, which would give him the opportunity to earn his bachelor’s degree in drama at Julliard.
In an interview with GQ, Driver said that not deploying with his fellow Marines “fuckin’ kills me … To not get to go with that group of people I had been training with was … painful.” Anyone who has had their friends deploy without them, be it after a deployment of your own or none at all, knows exactly what Driver is talking about.
Driver’s journey from Marine to actor:
However, Driver still serves his country and those who fight for it. He founded the non-profit “Arts in the Armed Forces” (AITAF) which strives to bridge the gap between veterans and theater, which he feels is an essential way of expressing the heart and soul of the military experience. Many people criticize the lack of veterans in Hollywood or the media in general, but Driver aims to do something about it.
The latest Playwriting Award is a competition by AITAF, exclusive to current military members or veterans. Not only does it come with a $10,000 award, but the theater company will actually produce and perform the play either on post or in NYC, followed by professional feedback and an award at their annual AITAF Broadway Show ever year. Anyone who has worked in the entertainment industry also knows that networking is crucial, and this will be an invaluable experience for someone hoping to make it as a writer in theater.
Driver played in “Logan Lucky” about a NASCAR heist in the south. He plays a veteran who has lost his hand in Iraq — the movie is fun, exciting and has a cool twist on the “Ocean’s Eleven” style film, but Driver’s performance had a sort of gravitas to it that I wish I saw more in performances regarding our nation’s wounded veterans. His character had lost his hand, but he was not a constantly complaining victim — he was obviously deeply wounded and affected by his injury, but he wasn’t some hollow shell of a person.
Driver’s career is most likely just beginning, and his roles continue to diversify as time goes on. He is just one of many examples of successful veterans that have embraced their veteran history, continue to give back, but still move forward and grab onto something ahead of them.
Featured image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.