Director Edgar Wright, Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Jon Hamm, and Jamie Foxx Discuss the Making of ‘Baby Driver’
As sharply executed as a hairpin turn, “Baby Driver” is a crackling-good ride, one that organically weaves music and humor into a slick showcase of its cast. Writer/director Edgar Wright‘s stylish thriller consistently clicks on all cylinders.
Ansel Elgort stars as the nicknamed Baby, a hell-on-wheels driver working with a rotating group of heist artists presided over by the oily Doc (Kevin Spacey), to whom Baby is working off an unknown debt. Baby quickly falls for an attractive waitress (Lily James), although as they would say in the old noir-ish gangster films which “Baby Driver” in many ways resembles, dames and this line of work don’t mix. So Baby puts not only his life at risk, but possibly hers after agreeing to what he hopes will be one last job, teaming him with a mercurial trio of thieves played by Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx and Eiza Gonzalez.
Entertainment Voice had the chance to sit down with the stars of the film and talk about the project. The conversation began with Lily James discussing her excitement for the role, finally having the opportunity for a contemporary piece and getting out of her typical corsets.
“It was heaven,” Lily laughed. “That waitress outfit was pretty tight, but I would breathe, which was a change. And it was great. I really wanted to do something contemporary, which felt like an escape. It was a breath of fresh air to get into 2017.”
A part of what makes this film so unique, is that each scene features a different song and each song determines the direction in which the scene is going to travel, which makes for an unconventional yet exciting film to watch.
When asked about what that experience was like on-set and what it was like creating these unique moments, Ansel answered, “It was a really fun shoot.” The cast is insane, and they would bring boomboxes and play music on set. Everyone would sing. If I remember correctly, there was a lot of Michael Jackson.”
Director Edgar Wright went on to discuss the idea of “Baby Driver” and the process to get it to the screen. “Yeah, it’s funny, when I’ve mentioned some kind of timeline – having the idea 22 years ago – it’s true in a sense that I heard a song and visualized a car chase, and that’s in the movie – but when people say ‘So why did it take 22 years to get to the screen?’ I’m like woah, back up! 22 years ago I was living in Wood Green, I was 21, I’d made my first feature but it hadn’t come out yet. I was signing on at the DHSS in Shopping City – and this is random but that’s the same one that inspired Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton to come up with the Pauline Job Seekers character. The real Pauline worked there!”
All of the stars mentioned what an incredible opportunity it was to work with Edgar Wright. Jon Hamm and Jamie Foxx’s faces lit up immediately when talking about the process and what it was like to get their hands on the script.
Hamm explained, “ I’ve kind of been around for a long time on this one. I did one of the early, early, early table reads a long time ago, and I just thought it was a really cool idea to kind of mess around with the cops and robbers movies and the heist movies and that whole thing. And Edgar’s visually such a specific and interesting filmmaker that I thought, out of all people, he could really come at this with a fresh take.”
When asked what brought him into the project so early on, Hamm said, “You know, I just really liked the sort of general idea of the script, and this idea of making kind of a quasi-musical, and I don’t know how much Edgar’s sort of shared with you guys about that, but I’ve had the hardest time in kind of coming up with the bullet point version of what this movie is other than quasi-musical.”
Hamm went on to say, “It’s been really interesting to see it kind of shape up. We have these choreographers on set all the time whenever we’re doing any kind of action sequence, and that’s been a really cool challenge to kind of … you know, there’s already a million things going around at any shoot day anyway, and then you add guns or you add explosions or you add car crashes or you add any action element to it, and it gets even weirder. And then you have to realize, ‘Oh yeah, we’re supposed to be doing this kind of choreographed and in time,’ that makes it even more difficult, but more exciting and I think more original. In an increasingly kind of crowded environment for entertainment, that’s kind of an exciting thing that’s out there that doesn’t look like everything else.”
Jamie Foxx chimed in and talked about what a fun experience it was making a film like this, working with such an all-star cast, and the overall tone of the film. Having worked on films like “Ray” and “Django Unchained” Foxx differentiates this one by saying, “It’s crazy, it’s cool, and it ain’t a typical film. It brings a thrill ride, so everybody can experience it. And it’s actually good too! It ain’t like that last joint I had.” Quickly, Foxx switched gears and brought things back around to ‘Baby Driver,” saying, “Have your ass at the movie theater.”
While Foxx didn’t specify which movie it was that he thought “sucked,” his last film was “Sleepless” — a critically panned crime thriller that came out in January. Prior to that, Foxx hadn’t appeared in any movies since 2014’s remake of “Annie.”
Ansel Elgort said that one of the reasons why he accepted the role was because it’s so different than anything he’s ever done before and the value in being a part of a project like this. Also adding is crazy about the music business and after hearing the soundtrack for the movie, he just wanted in.
“Being an artist myself and having people care about what you do is very valuable,” Elgort says. “A lot of people make art and don’t have anyone care, and I really appreciate the fact that people care and want to hear my songs and watch my movies. I don’t take that for granted.”
“Baby river” has action-packed sequences that include special effects, car chases, and outstanding stunt work. When asked about the stunts in the film, Egort spoke on the extensive driving sessions and training he had to go through in order to be fully prepared for the film.
“I learned how to do all the drifting,” Egort said. “They wanted me to know how to do the wheel and counter-steer.” All of the stars laughed and commented on how fun it was to learn and go through everything, stunts included, onset. Overall, making it a wild ride both in the making and on the screen.
“Baby Driver” opens nationwide on June 28.