Part of an actor’s job is to promote their projects, which can be a bit of a slog for some. But if they want people to see their work, then it has to be done. For some actors, though, they’re in it solely for the art, and having to talk about themselves in interviews puts them in an awkward place.
Adam Driver is in two of December’s most-hyped movies; Marriage Story with Scarlett Johansson, and a little indie film called Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Needless to say, he’s been a busy dude. But in the middle of an interview with NPR talk show Fresh Air with Terry Gross earlier this month, something distressed him so much that he fled the scene. Diva moment? Nope, it was out of pure embarrassment for Driver, who had no interest in hearing himself in character.
“We don’t really understand why he left,” Danny Miller, Fresh Air‘s executive producer, said in an email to The Daily Beast. “We were looking forward to the interview—Terry thinks he’s a terrific actor, he was a great guest when he was on in 2015—so we were disappointed that we didn’t have a new interview to share with our listeners about Marriage Story.”
A source at NPR, however, claimed that Gross’ team “was aware” Driver didn’t like hearing recordings of himself singing (in Marriage Story, his character sings “Being Alive” from the musical Company) but they “encouraged him to remove his headphones while any clips played back.”
While this month’s interview may be the first time Driver’s ever bolted, he has expressed an aversion to hearing himself before. Driver also didn’t want to hear himself during the 2015 Fresh Air appearance that Miller mentions, joking (though probably half-serious and fully self-conscious), “I don’t want to hear the bad acting that probably was happening during that clip.”
During that same interview, he revealed, “I’ve watched myself or listened to myself before, then always hate it. And then I wish I could change it, but you can’t and I think I have, like, a tendency to try and make things better or drive myself and the other people around me crazy with the things I wanted to change or I wish I could change.”
As you may have already gathered, Driver keeps his private life as private as it gets; hell, he and his wife kept their child’s birth out of the press for two whole years, something he called “a military operation.” He told The New Yorker in October that his job was to “be a spy—to be in public and live life and have experience. But, when you feel like you’re the focus, it’s really hard to do that.”
In that same profile, Driver said he was mortified the first time he saw himself on Girls. “That’s when I was, like, I can’t watch myself in things. I certainly can’t watch this if we’re going to continue doing it.”
Additionally, Driver “hated” his one scene in 2013’s Inside Llewyn Davis, in which he sings backup on a folk song. He did attend the Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiere and watched it with an audience, and recalled that he “went totally cold because I knew the scene was coming up where I had to kill Han Solo, and people were, like, hyperventilating when the title came up, and I felt like I had to puke.” And while Spike Lee believed Driver sat through BlacKkKlansman at Cannes, Driver revealed that he actually hid out in the greenroom and then returned to the theatre in time for the closing bow. Sneaky move, Adam. But one he needed to do to survive the rest of the night, not to mention the rest of his career.
Steven Soderbergh, a producer on The Report in which Driver stars, said it’s really for the best. “I think he’s rightly concerned that he would become conscious of himself in a way that would be harmful to his acting.”