My Journey From Marine To Actor (Screenshot: YouTube)

Fifteen years ago, shortly after 9/11, actor Adam Driver, inspired by a sense of duty and absolutely no college prospects, signed up to be a Marine. He recounts this, his placement in the 1st Battalion 1st Marines, and the road that led him (back) to acting in a recent TED Talk.

After an injury-related dismissal from the Marine Corps before shipping out to Iraq and Afghanistan, Driver was feeling at sea. While he didn’t join the Marines initially for the sense of community and closeness he felt with these “weird dudes,” it was a loss he felt potently when he had to leave. Then, with the opportunity to pursue acting again—he was accepted to Juilliard upon his return to civilian life—he felt the pull of his years in the service in an even deeper way.

I couldn’t imagine going to voice and speech class, throwing imaginary balls of energy at the back of the room, doing acting exercises where I gave birth to myself while my friends were serving without me overseas.

Life in the military is also very practical; everything that is done in the field is done for a reason. It took some time before Driver was fully able to understand and be able to repurpose those at times very physical skills to the internal workings of being a successful actor.

I was, really, for the first time discovering playwrights and characters and plays that had nothing to do with the military, but were somehow describing my military experience in a way that was before, to me, indescribable, and I felt myself becoming less aggressive as I was able to put words to feelings for the first time and realizing what a valuable tool that was.

Now, Driver is one of the more recognizable actors of his generation. With this success, he founded the nonprofit Arts In The Armed Forces which, per the foundation’s mission statement, is used to “honor, educate, inspire, and entertain all active duty and veteran members of the United States Armed Forces and their families by engaging them in the power and social service of the performing arts.”

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[via Laughing Squid]