David James/©Lucasfilm 2015
November 30, 2015 at 12:00 PM EST

Though it’s important to separate an actor from the character he or she is playing, sometimes what the former brings to the role can be essential to the latter. J.J. Abrams explains this was just the case when it came to Adam Driver’s performance as Kylo Ren in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Speaking during a Sirius XM town hall on Monday, Abrams discussed how Driver embodied Ren even before the cameras were rolling.

“Adam Driver, there are times when he’s so hard on himself as an actor,” Abrams said, describing how Driver would prepare for playing Ren’s more heated moments by yelling in preparation.

“He’s got a kind of wonderful ferocity that was perfect for this character,” the director added.

Listen below to hear Abrams describe more of Driver’s connection to Kylo Ren, while also revealing which of the older generation of Star Wars actors he believes is most like his or her character. For more from Abrams, listen to the director discuss his favorite Star Wars fan theory as well as why he’s excited for mothers and daughters to see the latest entry in the franchise.

The Sirius XM Town Hall with Abrams, hosted by PEOPLE and EW editorial director Jess Cagle, will premiere Dec. 14 at 6 p.m. ET on EW Radio Sirius XM 105.

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