ComingSoon.net visits the set of Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver!
You have never seen a movie like Baby Driver. The latest from director Edgar Wright, his first solo writing/directing effort, the film utilizes a tool that can be overlooked: diegetic music. You know, the kind playing within the scene that not only are you the audience hearing, but so are the characters. Think Stealers Wheel’s “Stuck in the Middle with You” in Reservoir Dogs or Huey Lewis & the News’ “Hip to be Square” in American Psycho. In fact, Baby Driver is composed of nearly wall-to-wall music, all playing in the real world and syncing up to the events of the film.
“It is and it isn’t,” Wright says when asked if he considers the movie a ‘musical.’ “It’s not like a film where anybody sings out loud, but it’s taking things that are in Scorsese or Tarantino or Soderbergh films and in those films you have the jukebox kind of soundtrack and the idea with this is that the lead character is actually playing those songs. So the songs are always sourced, they’re either in his ears or playing in a diner or playing on a stereo, so they’re always within the scenes.”
A heist film set in the underground world of bank robbers in Atlanta, Georgia (one of the few Hollywood films to set up production and also be set in the city), everything in the film is choreographed to the songs playing in the scenes, and we do mean everything. The steps the characters take, the words they say, the wipers on the windshield, the bullets they fire from their guns, the screech of the tires on the road, everything. The film even employed two choreographers on set to make sure the actors were hitting their marks at the right moment of the beat.
“Baby has tinnitus,” star Ansel Elgort tells us of his titular character. “He was in a car accident when he was seven, and that’s probably why he has such a thing with cars. But because he has tinnitus, he has to always listen to music to drown it out, and that’s sort of the explanation to why this whole movie is set to music, it’s all through Baby’s ears.”
Jon Hamm, who plays one of the thieves, chimed in on the choreography of the film, saying:
“There’s a lot of stuff too with inanimate objects, you mentioned the windshield wipers, but there’s things with whole cars, I mean, cars are choreographed and things like that. I wasn’t sure how that wasn’t going to play like on the day and in real life and again, having seen it cut together and working, I was impressed.”
Though Elgort’s character is in fact named Baby (B-A-B-Y Baby, as the trailer says), it’s a perfect allusion to the world he finds himself entrenched in and with the titans of acting that surround him.
“I like that he’s very musical,” Wright said about casting Ansel. “He plays instruments, he can dance. He’s a DJ as well, he writes music… He’s also very young so he qualifies as a baby… Ansel just turned 22 so to have him in the same frame with Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey, and Jon Bernthal, it’s great. You want to feel like the character is very young, it’s the point of the movie.”
Baby works as a getaway driver for Kevin Spacey’s Doc, a crime kingpin that never runs the same crew twice… except for the ever-trustworthy Baby. Others that Doc employes include Hamm’s Buddy, who is married to another of the cons, Eiza González’s Darling, a sort of Bonnie and Clyde couple that tied the knot after just days of knowing each other. There’s also Jamie Foxx’s Bats, who Foxx calls “the angry dude;” Jon Bernthal’s Griff, the crazy guy that “you want on your side;” Lanny Joon’s J.D., a thief who is finally getting his chance to “play with the big boys;” and Flea of The Red Hot Chili Peppers as Eddie, a psycho who just went ahead and tattoo’d the police call sign 51-50 (signifying a person that is an endangerment to themselves and others) on his chin. There’s another factor too, Lily James’ Deborah, a wholesome waitress that Baby falls for and who gets dragged into his life of crime.
Wright has been toying with the idea for Baby Driver since directing the music video “Blue Song” by Mint Royale in 2002 but didn’t actually begin writing it himself until after his 2007 feature Hot Fuzz.
“I guess it was more of a concept initially and I sort of knew what I wanted to do tonally and what kind of movie I wanted it to be like instead of what the general premise was and it was a nice voyage of discovery in terms of starting to build out the plot and the characters and the twists and things like that. And also once I started writing I started talking to ex-cons and real getaway drivers and FBI people and that’s always fascinating to me… I’m real aware of being English and middle class and writing an American crime film, so I may as well get the okay from someone who has been inside for ten years.”
Much of Wright’s oeuvre has a clear path from which it was birthed, be it zombie films for Shaun of the Dead or cop movies for Hot Fuzz, and Baby Driver is the same way.
“Walter Hill’s early movies like The Driver and The Warriors,” Wright points to as specific inspirations for the film. “I love those movies and I liked his style. Walter is somebody else that I’ve got to know through doing Q&As so I’ve made him fully away, I’ve said ‘You know I’m totally ripping you off, right? We’ll call it a big tribute to you.’”
The film employed over 150 cars throughout its production, some multiples of the same model for shots that need to be captured. Wright even detailed in the script what cars he wanted, specifically noting the likes of a red 2005 Saturn for Baby. There’s no cheating on Baby Driver either as the crew spent only one day of their 56-day production schedule working with green screen, almost everything you’ll see with its cars is 100% practical and happening in front of the camera.
And don’t forget, it’s all timed to musical cues.
Baby Driver debuts in theaters on June 28.