Kylo in the elevator
Ben Solo/Kylo Ren debates his future with himself

On screen, he’s a villain in black, but off-screen the actor portraying Star Wars’ Kylo Ren once wore a different kind of uniform.

Life before fame

Driver enlisted in the Marine Corps shortly after the events on September 11, 2001. Born in San Diego but raised in Mishiwaka, Indiana, Driver credits his military service with his on-screen confidence and had this to say about his potential future back then:

“It (acting) didn’t seem like a realistic job where I was from, and there wasn’t really a lot of opportunities… the military kind of stripped you away from – I think, even if it is an illusion – (of) being scared of the civilian world.”

Adam Driver to the Associated Press

Medically discharged in 2005, Lance Corporal Adam Driver, United States Marine Corps was part of Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines in the role of an 81mm Mortarman. That’s slightly less powerful than the blazing sunfire blasts from Starkiller Base, but still some impressive firepower. He received his discharge after breaking his sternum in a mountain biking accident and did not deploy. Had Driver not pursued acting, that military job could have translated into civilian jobs like hazardous material disposal, police officer, security, or bomb disposal.

Adam Driver TED Talk
Adam Driver, giving his 2016 TED Talk on Arts in the Armed Forces

Giving back after Star Wars

When he’s not playing the villainous Kylo Ren in the current Star Wars trilogy, Driver operates his charity, called Arts in the Armed Forces, an organization dedicated to providing arts programming for active duty service members and veterans, as well as military support staff and their families. He also has roles in other films and is currently on his third Broadway appearance, starring opposite fellow Star Wars actress Keri Russell in Burn This.

A video posted to his social media in 2017 showed the Star Wars actor driving to Brodheadsville, PA delivering a scholarship to the daughter of a wounded veteran on behalf of Budweiser and the Folds of Honor Foundation. The exchange was emotional, and fans got to see a different side of the person they see on the screen. Recently, Driver replied to questions about his time as a Marine and what he misses about it:

“You miss the rigor, the discipline, the camaraderie…I think you become very aware, probably more than average people your age, that we’re all going to die. You’re aware of your own mortality, and also of how much you can accomplish in a day. Time is precious, and you don’t want to waste it.”

Adam Driver to Military.com
Lance Corporal Adam Driver
Lance Corporal Adam Driver, USMC

Your challenge for this weekend

While Memorial Day is intended to remember the fallen, we can also remember and help those who are still here. Driver suffered with bouts of depression after his discharge. Depression affects many of us today, military and civilian. So this weekend, you have a challenge. Call a friend, any friend, and talk about Star Wars, or the weather, or just call to say hello. Let them know you’re thinking about them.

Have a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend everyone.

Source: Fox News; Military.com