Great Britain

Was Adam Driver wrong to walk out of an interview?

Adam Driver really does not like to listen to the sound of his own voice. In the middle of an interview on the NPR program Fresh Air earlier this month, the actor reportedly walked out rather than sitting through a clip of himself singing a song from the recent movie Marriage Story.

Driver, who also appears in the new Star Wars film, left the New York studio abruptly during a remote interview with the show’s longtime host Terry Gross, Fresh Air’s executive producer Danny Miller confirmed to the Daily Beast. The producers of the show were aware that Driver preferred not to listen to or watch his own work – he told Gross as much in a previous interview – and said they encouraged him to remove his headphones, an offer that apparently irked him.

“I don’t want to hear the bad acting that probably was happening during that clip,” Driver told Gross in the previous interview from 2015.

“I’ve watched myself or listened to myself before, then always hate it,” he said. “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.”

A New Yorker piece from October touched on what they called Driver’s “phobia” as well. In the story Driver recalled watching himself on Girls for the first time and recoiling.

“That’s when I was, like, I can’t watch myself in things. I certainly can’t watch this if we’re going to continue doing it,” he said. Driver recalled hating seeing a scene of his in the film Inside Llewyn Davis and said he stopped watching altogether until the premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

“I just went totally cold,” he said, “because I knew the scene was coming up where I had to kill Han Solo, and people were, like, hyperventilating when the title came up, and I felt like I had to puke.”

Many actors have expressed a similar displeasure with or refusal to watch their own work, including Johnny Depp, Julianne Moore, Angelina Jolie and others, so Driver’s reaction is not out of the ordinary.

Many other people outside of acting often register surprise or disappointment when they hear their own voices played back to them as well. The reasons for this are complicated ranging from a difference in the acoustic quality of the sound when it’s not being conducted through our own bodies, or various extra-linguistic cues, such as anxiety level, that only become apparent to the speaker when their voices are played back.

“We don’t really understand why he left,” Fresh Air’s Miller told the Daily Beast. “We were looking forward to the interview. Terry thinks he’s a terrific actor, he was a great guest when he was on in 2015, so we were disappointed that we didn’t have a new interview to share with our listeners about Marriage Story.”

Earlier this year Driver said he had a technique for avoiding watching his own films at movie premieres. Speaking on Late Night with Seth Meyers, Driver said: ‘‘I just go into a room and wait with a guy in silence, and then I got to go back and sneak in and pretend like I was there the whole time. It always seems like a better alternative than watching all the mistakes that you’re making that are now immortalised on film.’’

Driver is not alone in avoiding watching his own films. Julianne Moore once has said that “I haven’t seen any of my movies”. Reese Witherspoon says watching her own movies would make her “spiral into a state of self-hate”. “I don’t know who feels good looking at themselves. Nobody, right?” Witherspoon said on Chelsea Lately. “It’s torture. Why would you want to watch yourself being stupid and pretending to be somebody else?”