The podcast Fresh Air is a must-listen for anyone wanting to know more about the people behind some of the biggest films, TV shows and cultural movements of the moment. The concept was launched as a radio show in 1975 – well before podcasts began – with current host Terry Gross taking over that September and continuing her role for the next 40 years as the show changed and evolved to what it is now: a daily hour-long podcast ranging from interviews with the biggest Hollywood celebrities to experts weighing in on Trump’s impeachment.
But last week, Academy Award-nominee Adam Driver, who stars in Noah Baumbach’s newly released Netflix film, Marriage Story, walked out of an interview with Gross halfway through, without warning or explanation.
When The Daily Beast broke the news on Tuesday, it included a statement from Fresh Air producer Danny Miller who wrote 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.”
According to the publication, the reason behind Driver’s prompt exit from the interview is due to the show insisting on playing a clip of him singing in Marriage Story. Though Gross routinely plays scenes for the Fresh Air listener before asking the talent questions surrounding the film – something Driver was no doubt prepared for after appearing as a guest back in 2015 – he has expressed his anxiety numerous times over watching or hearing himself act in the past.
In fact, last time he was interviewed by Gross he declined to listen to an audio clip of himself, explaining that he “hates” it. At the time, Driver said, “I don’t want to hear the bad acting that probably was happening during that clip.”
“Does it throw you off to hear yourself?” Gross asked.
“Yeah, no, I’ve watched myself or listened to myself before, then always hate it,” Driver explained. “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.”
In a New Yorker profile from October, interlocutor Michael Schulman described Driver’s reluctance to watch himself as a “phobia” with Driver saying his anxiety began back when he first watched himself in HBO’s Girls.
“That’s when I was, like, I can’t watch myself in things,” he said. “I certainly can’t watch this if we’re going to continue doing it.” He also recounted feeling like he “had to puke” during the premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
The internet was divided over Driver’s seemingly extreme reaction to walking out of an interview, but if the 36-year-old really does suffer from anxiety or have a phobia of something, he has every right to protect his mental health, especially when it’s something he’s expressed numerous times in the past.
As actress Jameela Jamil put it on Twitter, “If the man has anxiety or a phobia then let him do whatever he needs to do. Being a famous actor doesn’t mean you don’t have mental health needs just like everyone else. He wasn’t rude to anyone, he was just anxious.”
Seeing so many snide tweets about this. If the man has anxiety or a phobia then let him do whatever he needs to do. Being a famous actor doesn’t mean you don’t have mental health needs just like everyone else. He wasn’t rude to anyone, he was just anxious. https://t.co/b6xx864bQF
— Jameela Jamil 🌈 (@jameelajamil) December 18, 2019