Q & A – Baby Driver: Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Jamie Foxx Jon Hamm and Eiza Gonzalez – by Fred Topel

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GenresAction-Thriller
StarringAnsel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Jon Bernthal, Eiza González with Jon Hamm and Jamie Foxx
Directed ByEdgar Wright
Produced ByNira Park, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner
Executive Produced ByEdgar Wright, Adam Merims, Rachel Prior, Liza Chasin, Michelle Wright

Baby Driver Movie - CoverAnsel Elgor IS Baby Driver. Well, his name is Baby and he’s a driver. Everyone in Baby Driver has a cool name. The epic cast of Elgort, James, Foxx, Hamm and Gonzalez were in Los Angeles to talk about their latest film. Edgar Wright wrote and directed Baby Driver, as well as picking the music that makes it the must own soundtrack of the year. Baby Driver opens June 28.G: Are the headphones always silent during takes when you’re filming?AE: No, whatever the audience was hearing, I was hearing. It was very important. And if we weren’t wearing headphones, and Lily can talk about this, you’d have a little earpiece in so we could each feel the vibe of the scene through the music. And if we had any choreography to the music, we could be doing it with live playback.G: So the laundry room scene, how did you choreograph that?LJ: Yeah, well, we really had an earplug in because we were sharing headphones. That was really important I think because the music is so key. Music creates such a tone and an atmosphere. I use that so much in life anyway to get into characters and to shut the world out. So I don’t think we could have done those scenes without having the music in our ears. So these little earbud things are weird. You feel like you’re going insane and sometimes it’s just like white noise. But it just slips in your ear and it’s sort of invisible, so it was playing whatever the tune was in the diner or on our date night.Q: Was it hard to do lines with music playing in your ear?LJ: No, I think it helps.AE: It was cool. I think it helped heighten the situation. Those scenes feel heightened and they feel overly wow, these people are connecting so hard. Sometimes you need that, those beautiful chords underneath what you’re saying to feel oh, I can justify just blurting out, “You are so beautiful.” You feel like the chords are just building up and you’re like, “I’m gonna say it. Oh wait, what am I doing.”LJ: It’s like the soundtrack to your life. You know when things are good and it all kind of comes in tune with your ears. You feel like you’re unstoppable.AE: It gives you an extra boost of confidence.Q: Jon, you went from cool big brother to bully. What was that transition for you?JH: That’s the fun part is presenting both sides of that. I think that we all have a version of that in relationships in our life, especially with authority. Whether it’s your dad or teacher or your coach, whoever it is. It’s like all right, there’s the carrot and there’s the stick. Buddy’s not a p*ssy, pardon my French. He’s there to get a job done too. He just goes about it a different way from Bats. He’s very real with Baby. Like, get out of this. You don’t want to be here. All right, you want to go there, let’s go there. That’s what happens when those worlds collide. There’s a very specific thing that happens. I think in the scene where Bats is kind of describing Buddy and Darling, it’s just like you don’t know me. When people say that to you, you’re like okay, we’re about to have a conversation. “You don’t know me.” Okay, where are we going with this? You never want to assume too much about people because as soon as you start going down that road, you find yourself in very deep water very quickly. I think that Bats is very attuned to that because it’s his life. Buddy’s got a different kind of way to read people.EG: Yeah, I think everyone has it. It’s just the way that Edgar lays it out, they’re different. Edgar chose where he’s going to elevate the crazy and how he’s going to set it up, explosive or underwater, or behind a pretty pink fur. It’s all forms and shapes of different crazy that we experience every day. The road rage or the normal person driving. There’s people like that everywhere.JF: There was a guy named J.C. who I got a lot from for this character. He was in the movie Any Given Sunday. He’s actually the big guy who did the frontal nudity. People were going crazy over it but on the set, I was joking with everybody else but he would come in, “What’s up in this motherf***er, huh? Sup, N*gga, what’s up?” Is this, doesn’t he know this is a movie? “All right, J.C., calm down.” “I don’t calm down, motherf***er, you just tell me where I need to stand in this bitch.” He was so crazy. I made jokes about everybody but I would stop once I got to him. I remember Bill Bellamy was doing the movie. We were shooting pool. It was down time, we were shooting a party scene. Bill Bellamy’s shooting pool and the guy goes, “I got next.” He tells Bill that. Bill loses but Bill stays on the table. I just J.C., “This motherf***er here what the f*** I said?” I go, “Bill, this dude is really taking an issue to this.” So I befriended J.C. on that movie but I learned a lot about him because he actually came out to L.A. He was just that person who would just wreck the party. He knocked out Bobby Brown one night. Bobby Brown was saying something and Bobby said the wrong thing. So Bats is that as well. He’s that person who is unbridled and wants to wreck the party.Q: So Bats is your homage to him?JF: J.C. and he quickly became known in Miami, because that’s where he’s from. In L.A. he quickly became the guy that was short on the fuse.Q: What was your hardest stunt?AE: At one point with some escalator thing, I slipped and hit my elbow, like I fell pretty hard and fast. It was when I first run into the mall and I run down the escalator and I switch from one up to the down or whatever it is. I didn’t make it onto the escalator. I slipped before and hit my elbow really hard which was fine in the moment. But I think my elbow hurt for like four months after. It was like so tender. It was like right on the bone. So that’s a good only injury to have from doing a lot of stunts. I’m cool with it. On the set they baby you a little bit, no pun intended. They’re worried about don’t hurt yourself but every time I play basketball, I end up with a little bit of a bruise, so.G: Was this a situation where you didn’t go back to your trailer because you wanted to stay on the set with the music and the vibe?AE: Well, when we weren’t rolling, usually the music would stop but you mean if Jamie was playing a song.LJ: Unless Jamie was there, yeah.AE: The funny thing is, actually after this movie, Jamie would always start playing music between takes. I think on my next film I did right after Baby Driver, it was called Jonathan in New York. On the first day of filming, we’re in this bar in New York City. I see that they have a DJ booth. I go up and I always have my little SD card which is how you play with TBJs, the little fake vinyl things. I just put my songs in there, I started playing music and everyone’s like, “What are you doing?” I was like, “What do you mean? I’m just creating the vibe, man.” They’re like, “Can you turn that off? It’s a real distraction and we’re trying to set up the cameras.” And I was like oh, okay, yeah, this isn’t Baby Driver. Different world. Not saying that set was bad but there was great vibes in this. Everyone wanted music and everyone wanted a good time. Also, it was Jamie Foxx doing it so if people didn’t want it, they’d just get it anyway.EG: It’s hard to explain the experience of working with people. With Edgar in general, when we got the script, this basically explains it all. You can see how Edgar is a well prepared director. He has a vision. When we got the script we got playlists at the same time. I remember getting the e-mails, what is this? You have to play it at the same time. I played it and you saw that opening sequence when Ansel goes for the coffee and I read “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” Right where I read it was like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” I was like holy sh*t. This is insane. From there on, the whole movie itself. I keep repeating this. It’s safe to say Edgar is unbelievably talented. He writes every character for a specific reason. I feel like, as the public, you see each character, everyone just added to the script. There wasn’t random characters just to fill in the blanks. That’s when you know you’re working with an amazing, brilliant man. The prep and the whole thing, we walked into set and we already knew what we had to do because he already had an idea. He set it on the table. Two months, we prepped, we were there and we did it.

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