The pull between religion and apostasy has interlaced his film roles. In “Silence,” he primarily based his character, Father Garupe, on St. Peter. “He’s the one one which’s questioning, and I discover that’s more healthy,” Driver mentioned. “Doubt is a part of being dedicated to one thing, I believe. They’re very hand in hand, and that appeared extra human to me. Garupe, in that story, he’s dedicated, after which at a sure level he’s, like, ‘That is fucking bullshit.’ I really feel that with faith. I really feel that with appearing. I really feel that with marriage. I really feel that with being a father or mother. I’m always crammed with doubt, no matter what I’ve completed. It doesn’t imply something. You continue to don’t know do something, actually.” He described Kylo Ren, in “Star Wars,” as “the son of those two spiritual zealots”—which means Han Solo and Leia—who “could be conceived as being dedicated to this faith above all else, above household.” A part of him nonetheless feels blindsided, as if he’d missed a category and hadn’t but caught up on the broader world. Whereas discussing “Struggle Membership,” he requested what I considered the film. I mentioned that I hadn’t seen it in years however puzzled how it will play in an period when persons are hyperaware of poisonous masculinity.

“What do you imply, ‘poisonous masculinity’?” he requested.

I advised that male aggression is seen as much less purifying now than it might have been portrayed as being in “Struggle Membership.” “I’d have to consider it,” Driver mentioned. “I imply, I haven’t heard a lot about poisonous masculinity.” He chuckled. “Perhaps as a result of I’m a part of the issue!”

Hours later, in his dressing room, he was speaking about how his suspicion of dogma formed him as an actor. “For lots of instances in my life, I used to be advised there was a proper reply,” he mentioned. “After which, after I obtained older, I used to be, like, ‘That’s fucking complete bullshit.’ I really feel that very a lot with appearing, too. Should you knew do it, you’ll do it completely each time.” He added, “So anytime anybody tells me, ‘That is the suitable reply,’ or ‘There’s one thing known as poisonous masculinity,’ I’m, like, What? What are you speaking about? I’m skeptical of it, as a result of I really feel like I used to be duped for seventeen years of my life.”

In early October, Driver was at Lincoln Middle, the place “Marriage Story” was the centerpiece of the New York Movie Pageant. He had flown in from Brussels, the place he was filming “Annette,” with the French director Leos Carax, and landed at 3:30 a.m. That night, there was a red-carpet première, and at midnight he would fly to England, for the London Movie Pageant.

Baumbach mentioned that when he was writing “Marriage Story” he had lengthy cellphone conversations with Driver through which they mentioned such basic motion pictures as “The Purple Sneakers” and “To Be or To not Be.” Considered one of their deserted concepts, a movie model of Stephen Sondheim’s musical “Firm,” discovered its means into the script within the type of two musical numbers. (Baumbach advised me that Driver had lately despatched him {a photograph} of the Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard, who has a blond, Thor-like mane, with the message “This is able to be good for one thing.”)

At midday, Driver was clutching a cup of espresso in a greenroom on the Walter Reade Theatre, earlier than a press convention. The forged trickled in: Laura Dern, Alan Alda, Ray Liotta. (Johansson was caught in site visitors.) Liotta, who performs a divorce lawyer, approached Driver. “Hey!” he mentioned in greeting, then struck a reverent tone. “Did you serve?”

“Sure,” Driver mentioned shyly, standing to shake his hand.

“Wow,” Liotta mentioned. “Thanks in your service. Critically. My coach was a marine.”

Driver shortly modified the topic. His army background makes him anomalous in Hollywood; the times of Clark Gable and Jimmy Stewart leaving photos to fly fight missions are lengthy gone. Although his time within the Marine Corps was formative—and gave rise to a nonprofit group he based, Arts within the Armed Forces, which fosters artwork appreciation among the many troops—it got here to a disappointing finish. After greater than two years of coaching, Driver was getting ready to ship out to Iraq. On the time, he wasn’t serious about the politics of the Iraq Warfare, he mentioned, nearly his loyalty to his guys. One morning, he and his good friend Garcia went mountain biking in Pendleton’s Camp Horno. On the way in which down, Driver hit a ditch. The handlebars slammed into his chest, and he dislocated his sternum.

Driver’s first sergeant advised him that he was too injured for the deployment. Making an attempt to show in any other case, he loaded up on hydrocodone and labored out within the gymnasium, however he made the harm worse. He was honorably discharged, whereas his former platoon shipped out to the southeast tip of Iraq, to run safety missions on the Iranian border. It was early within the struggle, and the unit returned safely. However Driver was devastated. “That they had gone and finished the factor that we skilled to do collectively,” he mentioned. “And I felt like a chunk of shit.”

Driver’s platoon commander, Ed Hinman, had at all times discovered him extra “pensive” than the others. “There was one thing extra occurring, I may inform, between his ears,” he advised me. Hinman mentioned that life after the Marines could be powerful underneath any circumstances. “You go from being in a household to being by yourself, with out an id and and not using a mission. And, if you understand it’s coming, that’s one factor. However in case you don’t, like Adam, that may be fairly scary.”

Humiliated, Driver drove again to Indiana in a Ford F-150 he’d purchased from an officer and enrolled on the College of Indianapolis, the place he acted in Beckett’s “Endgame” and within the musical “Pippin.” He utilized to be a policeman however was turned down, as a result of he was underneath twenty-one—“Which was ironic to me, as a result of I used to be a SAW gunner, and all of the sudden I can’t deal with a Glock?”—so he obtained a job as a safety guard. However he felt adrift, his mission unfulfilled. Then, remembering his brush-with-death vow to be an expert actor, he went again to Chicago and re-auditioned for Juilliard.

Richard Feldman, a Juilliard trainer, recalled, “This very attention-grabbing younger man walked within the room—large, tall, lanky, with hair partially flopping over his face.” Driver carried out the opening traces from “Richard III,” a recent monologue he’d discovered at a Barnes & Noble, and, for his musical choice, “Glad Birthday to You.” His appearing wasn’t polished, however, to Feldman, he radiated one thing real. Driver was guarding a Goal distribution warehouse when he obtained the decision that he’d been accepted. “I ran up and down the truck space, leaping round,” he mentioned. “I used to be fucking elated.”

In the summertime of 2005, he moved right into a closet at an uncle’s home, in Hoboken. He obtained a job at Aix, a French restaurant on the Higher West Facet, the place he served asparagus to Tony Kushner. He was nearly as good at ready tables as he was at promoting vacuums. “I’d by no means heard of broccoli rabe,” he mentioned ruefully. Juilliard was a shock. He’d gone from firing mortars to pretending to be a penguin in improv workout routines. He was disdainful of civilian life, sneering at classmates who wore their shirts untucked or arrived late to class. One time, he snapped so sharply at a pupil who had used his yoga mat that he diminished the man to tears. “I used to be, like, I gotta be higher at speaking,” he mentioned. He holed up on the performing-arts library and browse performs by David Mamet and John Patrick Shanley, and located that drama helped him categorical his roiling feelings.



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