Adam Driver: From the US Marine Corps to Star Wars

Actor Adam Driver attends the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival at the SVA Theater, left, and Driver as Kylo Ren in the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images for the Tribeca Film Festival / AFP; David James / Lucasfilm / Disney

If it wasn't for a broken sternum, the new villain that will be introduced in Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens could still be rising through the ranks of the United States Marine Corps.

Adam Driver, who stars as Kylo Ren in the highly secretive upcoming seventh instalment of the sci-fi saga, told American radio host Howard Stern on Tuesday that he had been at a loose end after trying and failing to get into New York’s famed The Julliard School for acting.

He had already tried vacuum-cleaner sales and telemarketing, not to mention setting up a real-life Fight Club with his buddies, when September 11 happened.

Inspired to defend his country, Driver enlisted and completed three months of tough basic training, during which he trained as a mortar man. His platoon was getting ready to head to Iraq and Afghanistan when he broke his sternum mountain-biking.

Driver told Stern he was “broken-hearted” after being dropped into a different unit.

“All my guys were going to go over ... I was ready to go,” he said.

Although Driver was looking to make a career out of the Marines, the change in unit sent him packing for Indiana University. He eventually tried out for Julliard a second time and was accepted.

Although Driver was a successful stage actor before signing on to Lena Dunham's critically acclaimed HBO show Girls, and even though he is now part of the legendary Star Wars franchise, he told the radio host he still regrets not being able to join his platoon.

“Even now, looking back on it, I wish I could have gone,” he said.

Driver keeps in touch with his army buddies, but says none of them really understands what is involved in acting.

“We all got together when I was going to school at Julliard and I tried to explain it to them ... they just did not get it at all.”

amcqueen@thenational.ae

• Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens has its world premiere in the US on December 14, with the Middle East premiere at Abu Dhabi's Emirates Palace on December 16. The film will be released in UAE cinemas on December 17.