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Adam Driver: Fame is fine when it’s for the kids

Star Wars: The Last Jedi star Adam Driver is reticent off-set but intense when playing his character

Outside of the Star Wars’ lasers, lightsabers and dogfights, Adam Driver likes to keep it quiet.

The man who plays villain Kylo Ren admits he has not found a way to “process” the adulation that comes with being a part of the 40-year-old space opera and gives a shrug of resignation when describing how the loss of anonymity means having to plan before going anywhere.

Indeed, the reticent figure on stage at the previous night’s Tokyo red carpet premiere of Star Wars: The Last Jedi – which opens here tomorrow – is not the same man in black who strides into the 50th-floor room of The Ritz-Carlton.

More cosy, no screaming, no flashbulbs. This is much more Driver’s speed.

Yet there is one aspect of fame the 34-year-old former US Marine has taken to – meeting young fans.

“If it’s for kids, I love it,” he told The New Paper in a roundtable interview.

“The familial part, where families get together to watch Star Wars and it becomes cross-generational, is very moving.

“It’s one of my favourite things and I didn’t anticipate that when I took on the role.”

Driver even helps kit out the neighbours’ children in his New York apartment block with lightsabers and masks for Halloween.

“Motivation to be evil to their parents,” he said with a sly grin.

But for older, more eager fans, there is a limit.

“If it’s someone showing up at your house, then you can get more aggressive,” he joked.

At the time of writing this, barely anything is known about the film beyond that it picks up immediately after the events of 2015’s The Force Awakens.

Kylo Ren is still the estranged son of Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), murderer of his father Han Solo (Harrison Ford), disgraced pupil of his uncle Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and still No. 1 fan of his infamous grandfather Darth Vader.

Like his character, Driver also appears to be an outsider in the world of Star Wars.

He is outwardly more intense than his co-stars, and there had even been talk of him staying in character on set.

“That’s not entirely true. It depends on the day,” he said.

“The Star Wars you see is this epic action drama. But in between takes, it’s pure comedy. You have stormtroopers trying to work out how to go to the bathroom, puppets malfunctioning and giving people the finger. It’s hilarious but that can make it hard to focus. So sometimes a little more focus is needed.”

Part of that focus is to not play Kylo as the “bad guy”.

“That may sound like an ‘actor-y’ answer but I thought of him as a good guy – in his world. He thinks what he is doing is right. He’s one of those people who feels morally justified and there’s no limit to what they will do to make sure their agenda is pushed. To me, that’s more scary.”

Driver also has a reputation for never watching his own work, yet Star Wars gets a pass.

“Usually I don’t watch because I know what happened,” he said. “And if anything, it can make you more self-conscious.”

The difference for Star Wars is the special effects.

“There’s only so many times you can be told ‘Trust us, the vastness of space is behind you’ or ‘Trust us, Snoke looks like this and your lightsaber is working’, so there’s a big visual element that’s missing,” he said with a laugh.

Not that the CGI reduces the discomfort factor.

That said, second time round was a better experience – one reason being that this time, Driver was not so “petrified”.

A change in costume also helped. He expressed relief that he did not have to wear his helmet so often. While iconic, it was not great to wear – or see out of. He joked: “Now there’s less chance to be defeated by an untied shoelace.”

When asked about the relationship between Kylo and Daisy Ridley’s Rey in the sequel, he performed his own version of a Jedi mind trick. “Ah, I don’t know that that is interesting.”

The deflection worked and Driver left the room a spoiler-free zone.

The New Paper | Jonathan Roberts | December 13, 2017

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