TOKYO—For two Halloweens now, the black mask and cape combo of dark side wielder Kylo Ren has been among the most popular costumes among children, just like how that character’s grandfather Darth has been for four decades now. This development is something that the actor behind Kylo Ren, Adam Driver, enjoyed immensely. “It’s good, it’s especially fun for me,” he told Super. “I live in New York, in a building with a lot of apartments with a lot of kids and I supply them with lightsabers and masks and motivation to be evil to their parents.”
It may come as a surprise then that the development of Kylo Ren going without his distinctive mask for “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” was something that Driver welcomed. Apparently the mask literally got in the way of things. “I could see where I was going, so that’s a plus,” he admitted. “It’s a beautiful mask. I have a love-hate relationship with the costume.” There was a meaning behind it all. “The idea is what is he hiding, and what is he hiding from.”
The 34-year-old Driver first came to public recognition as a character also named Adam on the HBO series “Girls.” But it was his turn as General Leia Organa and the late Han Solo’s treacherous son in “Star Wars: Episode VII—The Force Awakens” that turned Driver into a worldwide star.
Through it all, Driver has concentrated on his career with a singular focus, but he did deny staying in character as Kylo Ren even when the camera wasn’t rolling—mostly. “That’s not completely true. Sometimes I am, sometimes I’m not, depending on the situation, on what he day is and who the scene is with. Star Wars that you see is an action-adventure family drama but in between takes on set, it’s pure comedy. You have Stormtroopers trying to figure out how to go to the bathroom to puppets not working and giving everyone the finger. It’s hilarious so sometimes it’s hard to stay focused so it requires quite a bit of focus.”
He doesn’t usually watch his own movies, but he did make an exception for “The Force Awakens” (there were so many visual effects that he needed to be sure his lightsaber was working and that there was, indeed, outer space behind him) and he made the same exception for “The Last Jedi.”
“I don’t really find it helpful, if anything it just makes you more self-conscious that someone is watching. It’s interesting watching yourself. The movies are great and what Rian (Johnson) has done with this one is something that’s never been seen before in a Star Wars movie and that’s interesting.”
Driver has worked hard not to get swallowed up by the epic nature of the Star Wars franchise. “I try not to think of it as a Star Wars movie. This one I had the chance to sort of step back and appreciate the scale of it, because the sets are so impressive and I didn’t take that in at all the first time because I was so petrified. You do your best not to think of it as a Star Wars movie. Like an independent movie, you have to break into pieces, solve one piece and hopefully that will lead to another piece. It helps to make it as real as possible.”
The way Driver approaches Kylo Ren is that he isn’t really a villain: “I don’t think of him as a bad guy. I don’t know what being pure evil is. It sounds like something that doesn’t sustain itself. I thought of him as a guy who thinks he’s a good guy in his world. I thought of him as thinking what he is doing is right as opposed to what he is doing is evil. Because I know that people who think they are right or that they’re morally justified in what they’re doing and can’t hear another side, there’s no limit to what they’ll do to make sure their agenda is pushed. To me, that’s scarier and more unpredictable.”
As for “The Last Jedi,” Driver talked about what may have happened to Kylo Ren immediately after the events of “The Force Awakens.”
“I think he’s had a crisis of faith and it’s yet to be seen if it redoubles his efforts about what he wants to do or change directions and do something completely different.”
When prodded on the possible “shocking” twist involving his character in “The Last Jedi,” Driver drily deflects it by saying he would hope any such twist would be a “refreshing” twist more than a shocking one.
While he admitted to love being around kids and surprisingly enjoyed the cross-generational nature of his younger relatives realizing he was Kylo Ren, Driver has mostly shunned the attached fame with a ferocity that Kylo Ren would have been proud of.
“I don’t think about it. I haven’t really found a way to process it or given it much thought other than how it affects your anonymity that means you have to plan before you go anywhere. I don’t enjoy a lot of attention and this kind of attention is par for the course but it’s an unnatural state of being in the world. It also seems counter to my job, because my job is to be anonymous in a way and makes mistakes and live life and observe. When you feel like you’re the one being observed, it’s a weird calibration. I’ll just keep figuring it out.”