From the outside, one would think Ansel Elgort is a reserved and shy guy who happens to be a pretty good actor. But when I sat down with the new “it” guy of young Hollywood, I found out that he is also a skilled DJ who dove into learning how to stunt drive while filming his new project, Baby Driver. He also has as put in his own words, a gorgeous girlfriend that he would go to the mat for.
Q: How familiar were you with the car stunts, the choreography and sign language?
I was not familiar with doing car stunts yet. I did a bunch of driving courses with Jeremy Fry, stunt driver, and we wanted for me to feel very comfortable behind the wheel whether or not I was actually driving. If I did get the chance to drive that I could do the some of the stunts, which I did. Only a few of them, but some of them. When I wasn’t actually driving, and I was just yanking the fake wheel (not actually attached to the car) around I would be moving the wheel in a way that it was supposed to be moved to do those kind of movements. I was glad that I got to do all that prep and prep in general. Like you said choreography, we were rehearsing for weeks before leading up. Every time that there is choreography in the film, it’s rehearsed to deliver it. The shoot was ambitious, we had to know what we were doing and show up and do it. The choreographers were really great. I feel like I was at summer camp. I had a lot of friends there. I had to do an accent, I had to do sign language, I had to do parkour, driving training, all the choreography. It was a blast, I really liked the prep of this one.
Q: How much work was the choreography? How did it feel to see the final product?
It was awesome because it reminded me of musical theater. Which is how I started all of this. I did a musical before I ever did a straight play or movie. I loved the rehearsal. When we showed up, I loved that first shot, that was the first day of filming, that long shot. We did twenty-eight takes of it. We got eventually one that was good enough all the way through. But it also wasn’t being about perfect, thought that was a good one. It’s cool when it’s not overly edited. It is what it is. There are a lot of moving pieces, which is like a great theater opening. You have a lot of people on stage and there’s choreography and everyone if kind of intertwining. It really sets the stage in a great way. This is a heist movie, this is an action movie, but it’s different. We’re going to do an homage to Saturday Night Fever. If you like La La Land you’re going to like this one too because it’s so musical. It lets people know off the bat without being overly campy, it never goes campy which is so nice. This movie is very unique for that reason.
Q: Was there a particular stunt or day that was most challenging?
It was that whole foot chase scene. In that we were doing stunts, and stunts, and stunts. But it was a lot of fun. My body was beat up by the end because sometimes I would take falls. That was a lot of fun. Also, for whatever reason I had decided, when we were shooting night shoots before that, to go play street ball every day before filming on concrete and I got the worst shin splints ever. I didn’t want to tell Edgar (Wright, director and writer) like, hey man, I know I’m doing your movie but I can hardly do your stunts because my shins are killing me. Like the most pain I have ever felt, like stabbed in my legs constantly from that. So like the stunts were not the problem, it’s because I had these crazy shins splints while I was trying to do them. Eventually I was able to roll out every second that I wasn’t doing a stunt on my shin with a dough roller. Then when we were about to do a stunt then I would do it, then by the end it would start seizing up again I would dough roll it out. Edgar thought that I got them doing the stunts themselves. Luckily he is not like a big athlete so he didn’t know that.
Q: You relate to that character in that very moment? Are you like that in real life?
Oh yeah, every time I am on the subway with my girlfriend. The only reason I ever take cabs in New York City sometimes late at night with my girlfriend is because she is so gorgeous and she is all dressed up, I don’t want to be in a position where someone comes and fucks with her. Because I know I’m going to lose it on the subway. But if we’re sitting there and sometimes you’ll have bums who come and hackle people for money and they’ll directly point at somebody and say you, you, you. I’m sitting there and am like if you mess with my girlfriend, I’m going to stand up and deck you right now. I’m not like that in life at all, I’m not aggressive. But when it comes to the person I love, if anyone disrespects them at all, I would lose my shit. So I totally understand where Baby is coming from there. I would start a war over my girl. That’s how men are thought and women too, over there kids and their men when someone steps on your loved one.
Q: I understand you are a DJ, have you used any of the songs in your DJ sets that are used in this movie?
Yeah, I think that this soundtrack can open up a lot of years in a great way. I probably only knew a third of the records on this. The rest of them are still records that now if I hear it’s like oh, that’s such a great song, it’s on the soundtrack. If I hear it somewhere in a diner. Some of the songs have made their way into my playlist, into my rotations. I love the Carla Thomas “B-A-B-Y”, I love “When Something Is Wrong with My Baby” (Sam & Dave, musicians). There are some beautiful tunes on this.
Q: If you could be in a previous Edgar Wright movie, which one?
I would like to be in Hot Fuzz. I love that movie.
Baby Driver is currently playing in theatres nationwide. For more information visit the film’s official website at, http://www.babydriver-movie.com/
Interview by Izumi Hasegawa – @HNW_Izumi
Edited by: Jody Taylor – @RealJodyTaylor
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