I took my first driver’s license test when I was 16 years old. I actually studied for it, because in my state, you have to take a written test as well as a physical driving test. I passed both on the first try and nowadays, whenever I renew my license, the DMV just makes me take, like, a 60-second vision test (“can you see this sign?” “yes” “okay here’s your license”). I wouldn’t say it’s difficult to get a driver’s license in America, but it’s not easy-peasy. I guess to British people seeking American driver’s licenses, it is easy though? How did I not know this? Apparently, driver’s license tests are much harder in the UK. So hard, in fact, that Carey Mulligan has flunked her British driver’s license test FIVE TIMES. How is that possible?!?!
Carey Mulligan has a “great desire” to put the pedal to the metal. When the actress appeared on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live! Tuesday to promote her new movie, Mudbound (out Nov. 17 on Netflix and in select theaters), she revealed she’s failed her driving test five times. “It’s way harder in England! Over there I failed. Here, it’s easy. I did it here—it was a piece of cake,” she said. “You literally drive around the block and they give you a license.”
Mulligan, who used to take the bus to acting auditions in L.A., said she was only able to drive for about six months before she moved “back to England,” where she “couldn’t drive anymore.” Regardless, Mulligan insisted, “I’m an excellent driver.”
“I don’t think you are,” Jimmy Kimmel said. “Maybe average, but even then, I don’t think so.”
“It’s a pressure thing. I am an excellent driver,” she said. “Then I get in a test environment, someone has a clipboard, and my mind explodes. I cannot do anything and I make mistakes.” To prove her point, Mulligan recounted each of her failed attempts at becoming a licensed driver.
“Test No. 1, I’m 23. I’m filming this film called Never Let Me Go, and the director [Mark Romanek] is adamant that I have to drive a car. It has to be a manual car—no question. I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s hard. Can I not do [automatic]?’” she said. “‘No, it has to be a manual car, and you have five days to learn.’ I do my five-day intensive thing. I get to the end of the five days and I take the test, and I fail within 90 seconds of leaving the test center. I’m going up the hill, and I mess up the thing, and I stall and I start rolling back down the hill, and there’s a Range Rover behind me. The instructor freaks out and does the emergency brakes. I went, ‘OK, well that’s done.’ Then I get on set and they have an automatic car! I’m like, ‘Buddy!’ So, that was a wash.”
As time went on, Mulligan showed no signs of improvement. “Years later, I’m pregnant with my first child. I get quite far into the pregnancy and I think, ‘Oh, God, I must learn to drive now because I’m going to be a mother. This is irresponsible,’” she said. “I’m nine months pregnant, I book my test—and I fail. Then I book another, 10 days before I give birth, and I fail that as well.”
Two years later, during her second pregnancy, Mulligan had the same mentality. “I think, ‘I have two children; I should really get a driver’s license.’ So, I wait until I’m nine months pregnant and I take one test and I fail. And then it’s my fifth test. My husband [Marcus Mumford] comes to the test center. He’s got the bottle of champagne and he’s ready, and it’s the saddest thing he’s ever seen,” the 32-year-old actress said. “I hoist myself out of the car, crying, with this huge bump and my little sheet with this red cross on it. He sort of slowly puts the champagne away. All of them I knew [I failed], except the last one, where I really thought I’d nailed it. That was even worse. Like, if you know, it’s fine. But I was like, ‘This is it,’” Mulligan said. “And it wasn’t.”
The only one I understand is trying and failing to drive a stick shift/manual. I learned how to drive a manual when I was a teenager but if you asked me to do it today, I would f–k it up (bigly). But how can you live into your 30s and not have a driver’s license, or fail the driver’s test five times? I can understand how you might live in a city with great public transport and not NEED to drive. But even if you’re a ride-or-die city dweller, you should still get a license and you should still be able to pass the test!!
Photos courtesy of WENN.