Did Adam Driver from HBO's Girls play the most surprising character on TV this year? When he wasn't peeing on Lena Dunham in the shower or pumping iron in the bedroom, he was subtly evolving from a dick into a dick with a heart of gold. Here, his interview on the verge of the second season
GQ: You've got a bunch of projects on the heels of Girls. [Spielberg's Lincoln; Noah Baumbach's Frances Ha; the Coen Bros' Inside Llewyn Davis (out in February); Bluebird with John Slattery; and a major-league lead opposite Mia Wasikowska about a writer's 1,700-mile trek across the deserts of west Australia.] You're off to Australia soon, right?
Adam Driver: Right. I'm not very well traveled, so I'm wildly excited about that. We're going to Alice Springs and Ayers Rock and things like that—basically where everything can kill you.
GQ: I have to imagine that when you were with the Marines, there was the thought that you would be traveling a ton, and then you got injured. Of course it's completely different, but does part of this feel like, "Oh, I get to go to all these places now'?
Adam Driver: Yeah, I mean, Australia is obviously different from Iraq or Afghanistan. But yeah, I think that's one of the things that underlies a lot of people's decision to join the military.
GQ: You enlisted after 9/11, and were at Camp Pendleton for a while. The story that I had heard was that you had a very crystallizing moment when you decided that the military wasn't what you wanted to be doing with your life. There was a cloud—
Adam Driver: Of white phosphorous, yeah. I had an epic, like, come-to-Jesus moment. I didn't lose my ambition about being in the Marine Corps, but it was definitely clear to me that I knew what I wanted to do when I got out. We had an FO—a forward observer—who was supposed to fire on this one target, and got his coordinates screwed up and wound up firing on us. We're all mortarmen, so we hear this big boom and then above us, a big cloud of white phosphorous is falling down. And if it wasn't windy, and coupled with the fact that we were all running away from it, we would have been dead. And that was a first, you know? To be 19 and in the military—and I'm sure there are other people with this, too—but it's like, mortality. And you know, it gets into the culture and the mindset. And in the military you just suddenly start behaving in very erratic ways because there's always the threat that something can go wrong.
GQ: You left the Marines cause you got injured.
Adam Driver: Yeah. Well, I broke my sternum, and I tried to still train on it because I wanted to go overseas so bad, and I ended up injuring it worse so that I had to be on the board for medical separation and they determined that I wasn't fit enough to continue.
GQ: Fast forward to Girls. You graduate from Juilliard, Lena Dunham approaches you.
Adam Driver: I was doing a play and my agent said, "You should read this,' and I read it. I was doing plays—that's pretty much what I'd been trained to do at Juilliard—and thought that TV was the devil. But it was for HBO, and I had worked with them before, and anyway, I was in the audition room, and I came in and read for the part, and they called me back the next week, and that was it.
GQ: How did you think people would respond to Adam and the show?
Adam Driver: After the first couple of episodes, people started coming up to me and saying, "You're an asshole, but I like you." But as the show unfolded, people were saying more flattering things. I had never worked on a TV show like that before, being a series regular, and I was surprised by how important it was for people to decide whether I was likable. It's good that they like my character, but it was never part of the dialogue. I think it's that people see humanity in it. And I'm actually dumbing it down by saying that there's no emphasis on being liked—but to answer your question, I had no idea how it was going to turn out.
GQ: You're shirtless most of the season. Is there more attention from women because they've seen you naked?
Adam Driver: [laughs] I don't know. I feel like I'm not even able to answer that question. It's weird, you know, it's bizarre. I'm, like, avoiding that question...
GQ: Did you know that you were going to be in quite that many sex scenes at the outset? Put on display like that?
Adam Driver: No way.
GQ: Was there any scene where you said, "No, I'm not going to do that'?
Adam Driver: No.
GQ: Since the majority of your scenes were with Lena only, did you get to spend much time with the other actors?
Adam Driver: No, not really. You know, I just showed up and none of them were there. Like, Zosia [Mamet] and I hadn't really even been in the same room until the end of the season. And so we finally get to have conversations, say, here for the Emmys because we're together a lot.
GQ: Are there moments in the past year, on set with Spielberg or whoever, when you allow yourself to think, "Wow, this is pretty cool,' and introduce yourself and fan out about it, or are you entirely professional?
Adam Driver: I think it's pretty professional and that everyone is trying to step up their game—especially when it's Spielberg and Daniel Day-Lewis. Which is good, so there's no bullshit. And it's similar with Noah Baumbach and the Coen brothers—they're just specific and all on the same page of what the story is they're trying to tell. Noah and all those people create an atmosphere where the best idea wins, and if there's anything that's excess that doesn't tell the story, then it's gone.
GQ: What about with Lena?
Adam Driver: Lena, too: very specific in what it is with the story she's trying to tell. However she's very un-precious with it, which is very rare to have those two trains running at the same time.
you can read his whole interview @ the source + there's pretty amazing video from the shoot but i can't add it here =/