Adam Driver has been on the fast track to fame ever since landing his breakout role as Lena Dunham’s boyfriend in her HBO series Girls. After a series of supporting and starring roles in both indie films and major studio pictures, Driver is about to hit next-level popularity as Kylo Ren, the masked villain of Star Wars: The Force Awakens with an unhealthy attachment to the late Darth Vader.
As with everyone in the movie, we don’t know a whole lot about Kylo yet and Driver is not at liberty to discuss much. We do know that he intends to carry on the work started by Vader, that he possesses considerable powers of the dark side of the Force and that he brandishes one of the most unusual lightsabers we’ve ever seen. We tried to fill in a few more blanks when we sat down with Driver at the recent press junket in Los Angeles…
Was there any sort of intimidation in following one of the toughest acts to follow in terms of bad guys?
Adam Driver: (laughs) Yeah. But as with anything, you want to do it justice and make sure that it’s grounded in something real, as hokey as that sounds. I feel like I spent most of the movie trying to put out of my head the idea that I was in Star Wars.
We know that Kylo is a big Darth Vader fan. Aside from that, how much of his motivation and back story do we get to explore in the film?
A lot, I’d say, and even what people have seen so far, I feel, is a big clue into who he is as a person, down to his lightsaber in that it’s all kind of unfinished and unpolished and kind of reckless. There’s something familiar about him in the world of Star Wars that we’re all kind of familiar with, that vocabulary, but I think there’s something a little bit more pressing – he’s not someone who has things figured out, I would say, as much as we’re probably used to.
Talk about the challenges of working behind the mask.
You really just have to rely on the power of thought. That doesn’t mean you can check out in any way. You still have to convey everything physically and trust that thinking is enough. To put anything on top of that was a challenge, I think, and also not getting stuck in that vocabulary of Star Wars of being very stoic and in control. How to convey that without showing your face was a fun challenge.
What’s intriguing about the Dark Side. Everyone’s fascinated with bad guys. In this mythology, it’s such a powerful force, what’s intriguing about playing on that side of the fence?
I don’t know, I think people think that that side is more free or something, in a way. But for me, it’s more about being right. I think that you have two sides that think that they’re right, and the line that divides them is very small, which I think is so true. That’s more real to me – someone feeling justified in their behavior kind of implies that there’s no lengths that they’ll go to to make sure that they’re right. There may be ignorance behind that, and not opening yourself up to someone else’s perspective is very human and very true, I think, and very unfortunate.
The film is directed by J.J. Abrams and stars Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew and Max Von Sydow. Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams and Bryan Burk are producing with Tommy Harper and Jason McGatlin serving as executive producers. The screenplay is by Lawrence Kasdan & J.J. Abrams and Michael Arndt.
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens releases in theaters on December 18th, 2015, followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode VIII on May 26th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.