Trained actors have the extraordinary ability to suspend our disbelief by drawing upon their emotions to embody fictional or real people.
But like everybody else, they have their insecurities.
And when someone's vulnerabilities are exploited, they will act accordingly.
Adam Driver is an Oscar and Tony-nominated actor currently starring in a spate of films, including Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Amazon's The Report and Netflix's Marriage Story.
The 36-year-old former Lance Corporal in the Marines was scheduled for an interview on NPR's talk show Fresh Air with host Terry Gross.
However, Driver "walked out" when Fresh Air played a clip of him singing a rendition of "Being Alive" from the musical Company which is featured in a scene from Noah Baumbach's Marriage Story.
Sources told Variety that the actor was recording his side of the interview from NPR's New York offices while Gross was recording from the show's base at WHYY-FM in Philadelphia.
According to The Daily Beast, Gross' team was apprised of Driver's anxiety towards listening to recordings of himself before the interview.
Their solution was suggesting that Driver remove his headphones while the clip played back.
That did not happen. Instead of temporarily taking off his headphones, the actor left and never returned to complete the interview.
Fresh Air's executive producer Danny Miller was confused and said in an email:
"We don't really understand why he left. We were looking forward to the interview—Terry thinks he's a terrific actor, he was a great guest when he was on 'Fresh Air' in 2015—so we were disappointed that we didn't have a new interview to share with our listeners about 'Marriage Story'."
I don’t know if this makes sense to non-actor folk, but we really do experience incredible anxiety watching ourselv… https://t.co/CFPCLpkSMo— Tim Nicolai (@Tim Nicolai) 1576607010.0
Miller explained in detail about the alleged agreement.
"We knew from our previous interview with Adam Driver that he does not enjoy listening back to clips of his movies (that isn't unusual, a lot of actors feel that way)."
"So Terry invited him to take off his headphones while we played back the 20-second clip, and that our engineer in New York would cue him to put his headphones back on after the clip ended (we also did this during our 2015 interview)."
"But this time around, after the clip concluded we were informed by our engineer in NY that he had walked out of the studio, and then left the building."
"We still don't understand why Adam Driver chose to leave the interview at that point."
Here's the thing.
Twitter user Olive Rae Brinker suggested Driver may have been trying to prevent an anxiety attack.
it only takes like twenty seconds of research to discover that adam driver has severe anxiety related to watching h… https://t.co/CThu0eJ40B— Olive Rae Brinker (@Olive Rae Brinker) 1576619791.0
i've seen people get mad at me before because they thought my reasoning for avoiding things that trigger my severe… https://t.co/5sGwjXRKhe— Olive Rae Brinker (@Olive Rae Brinker) 1576619928.0
people with severe anxiety aren't "divas" or "playing the victim" or "being disrespectful" when they make decisions… https://t.co/EmnFMcodm4— Olive Rae Brinker (@Olive Rae Brinker) 1576620132.0
@olivebrinker Not a big fan of the people saying "well he could've just taken off his headphones like they asked!"… https://t.co/pcotWt8GhW— Mushroom Huntress (@Mushroom Huntress) 1576621263.0
@maxwelltani from what I've read, he's got pretty extreme anxiety re: listening to his own performances, and he has… https://t.co/tlPv86mXZN— Emily Gaudette, Holidaze edition (@Emily Gaudette, Holidaze edition) 1576607406.0
Those without phobias or anxiety disorders might not comprehend what anxiety-sufferers experience.
But it does not take much effort to try to be compassionate and understanding.
@maxwelltani @lizzieohreally It’s hard to explain anxiety/phobia to people who don’t understand. Also to explain an… https://t.co/nGMI30jWWs— 🏈Tight Ends Podcast🥅 (@🏈Tight Ends Podcast🥅) 1576607208.0
@maxwelltani @JoshMankiewicz He had expressed his displeasure with clips being played on an earlier FA interview. I… https://t.co/nYNyPtWYKp— TheAdventOfSkywalker (@TheAdventOfSkywalker) 1576607357.0
Other seasoned professionals related to Driver's fear.
@pasta_ben @maxwelltani @willsommer i’ve performed countless times and manage to not throw up before performing at… https://t.co/zVNuiH3mEe— ashleigh (@ashleigh) 1576607147.0
As someone who has been procrastinating transcribing an interview all morning because I hate the sound of my own vo… https://t.co/7ZOTztQnte— Devan Coggan (@Devan Coggan) 1576608497.0
Gross knew about Driver's expressed needs back in 2015, as Miller disclosed in his recent email.
Driver himself mentioned his aversion to watching or listening to his performances to the Fresh Air host in the previous interview.
@NoahShachtman Adam Driver respectfully declined to listened to himself act in his last interview with Terry Gross… https://t.co/Dxpp6jjKRM— Charlotte Clymer🏳️🌈 (@Charlotte Clymer🏳️🌈) 1576612728.0
@cmclymer Especially since the host, Terri Gross had already been told by him in a previous interview of his abhorr… https://t.co/wtYCqV4wve— Katherine D. Hammond (@Katherine D. Hammond) 1576608115.0
At the time, Gross was about to play back one of Driver's performances, and the actor told her:
"I don't want to hear the bad acting that probably was happening during that clip."
When Gross asked if it would "throw" him off to hear himself perform, Driver responded:
"Yeah, no, I've watched myself or listened to myself before, then always hate it."
"And then wish I could change it, but you can't. And I think I have, like, a tendency to try to make things better or drive myself and the other people around me crazy with the things I wanted to change or I wish I could change."
He could not have been more articulate about his vulnerability.
@trescassmirk @maxwelltani @willsommer Sounds like they didn't even listen to his previous Fresh Air interview.— Kromn (@Kromn) 1576607321.0
@maxwelltani I highly respect #AdamDriver. He founded Arts in the Armed Forces @AITAF. So maybe #TerryGross needs t… https://t.co/YITyJzOa7n— Lucy Sharvet 🎨🖊 (@Lucy Sharvet 🎨🖊) 1576612461.0
Driver's skittishness has been public knowledge for a while.
In October's profile of Driver in The New Yorker, writer Michael Schulman called the actor's reluctance to watch his performances a "phobia," which was exhibited when Driver hid out in the green room during a screening of 2018's BlacKkKlansmen.
Driver also recalled feeling nauseous during a premiere of 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, in which he plays Ben Solo/Kylo Ren – a role he will reprise in The Rise of Skywalker when it is released in theaters on Friday.
The musical song "Being Alive" that Driver sings is featured in a memorable scene towards the end of Marriage Story, which Netflix released last month.
The drama features Driver and Scarlett Johansson as a couple unraveling as they experience the pain of divorce.
Both have received critical acclaim for their respective performances.
But that doesn't mean Driver wants to listen to his. And that should be his right.