Best thought of as a fun Drive or a less dumb Fast & Furious, Baby Driver is an action movie, a love story and – most brilliantly – a singing-free musical, instead choreographing whole scenes to a killer score. Its star, Ansel Elgort, is Baby, a getaway driver trying to go straight, dreaming of escape with his girlfriend Debora (Lily James) but beholden to Kevin Spacey’s villain Doc. A DJ himself, Elgort looks set to be the breakout star of the summer.
What initially attracted you to Baby Driver?
“The script was awesome. Edgar [Wright, director] is awesome. The role was really cool. The driving, the music – I loved everything about it.”
Tell us about your character.
“Baby is a guy who was in a car accident when he was a kid. When he was seven, he lost both his parents and developed tinnitus, which is a ringing in your ears. Ever since then, he’s become obsessed with cars – stealing cars and driving cars. And he also has to play music all the time to drown out the ringing in his ears – the music drives the movie.”
You’re a musician as well as an actor. How do you combine the two?
“In this case I have to say it was combined perfectly. I think I probably got this part because of my musical background. You know, Edgar and I hit it off from the beginning. But I think once he realised I also had a musical background and a dance background, that ultimately tipped the scales in my favour, because a lot of this film is choreographed – the action, the gunplay, the cars, or even just subtle movements… In terms of my two careers, though, I don’t see a reason why I’d ever have to choose. I do both acting and music because I love them both.”
Did you get to meet up with any real getaway drivers before filming?
“I didn’t get to meet any real getaway drivers, but we did meet up with someone who robbed, like, 15 separate banks. Amazing, right? But what’s really amazing is what he told us: if you’re a bank robber and you get caught and you go to prison, you’re the man. Everyone thinks: ‘You rob banks? That’s awesome.’ It’s a really cool crime. It’s sexy. You go in there and everyone’s like, ‘How did you do it?’”
Do you do better in Los Angeles traffic now as a result of Baby Driver?
“Oh man, I can’t stand LA traffic. I like New York traffic. In New York traffic you really have to weave and move. In LA you just sit and get sunburnt in a convertible.”
What was the weirdest moment?
“We actually shot in a real maximum-security prison, which was weird and scary. At one point we were locked in the kitchen and there were prisoners walking by and there were guards… It was crazy. You’d walk by places where you’d see prisoners inside and they’d start banging on the glass and stuff. I’m glad we only had to do two days of filming there. It was not a fun place to be at all.”
What was your biggest takeaway from the whole experience?
“There are so many things. But mostly, all the actors I got to work with. The things I learned from Kevin Spacey and Jamie Foxx… Making this movie was a blast. You don’t know always know that they’re going to turn out great, so when it comes to making movies the most important thing for me personally is having a good time when you do it. I don’t mean partying and being an a**hole. I mean having a good time with the people you get to work with and enjoying the moments – really taking them in. You might have a great movie to show for it. You might not. So your experience on the set is the most important thing. And I made some really great friends this time.”
What would you tell people about Baby Driver?
“I think it might be your favourite film you’ve seen in a while… I really hope so. This one is made for everyone. For me, it’s like an old-fashioned blockbuster.”
Baby Driver is in cinemas from June 28
Interview: Steven Goldman