Five minutes with Baby Driver star Ansel Elgort

Upon walking into our interview with all-American millennial, Ansel Elgort, our first impression has us thinking he seems no different from any other man his age.

Lounging lazily on the couch, Ansel chatted to Remix digital editor Ashleigh Coldicutt about his latest role as the title star in Baby Driver, in between mouthfuls of Willy Wonka candy and sips of his iced chocolate.

See, regular guy, right? Wrong.

For a 23-year-old, Ansel Elgort has been busy. When he’s not flexing his acting muscle on the silver screen or spinning decks as his DJ alter-ego Ansølo, Ansel snaps pics of his long-time ballerina beau, Violetta Komyshan, to share with his 8.1 million Instagram followers.

Not to mention, he’s a badass behind the wheel.

Thank you so much for taking the time to chat to me today! We’re super excited about the release of your new movie, ‘Baby Driver’. Are you much of a car guy in real life?

I am now. I liked cars, but it definitely helps when you know how to drive them a little better. It was cool being around the whole stunt team. Now I feel like I have friends that I can go to for advice with cars. I got to keep the Subaru from the movie. There was 6 of them, so I got to keep one of them. The main stunt driver, Jeremy Fry, I called him when I first got it because I had some questions about the car. That car is a hard car to drive. It’s very sensitive. You touch the gas a tiny bit and the RPM just goes crazy.

Which do you prefer: American muscle cars or imports?

They’re good for different reasons. I love the Subaru and that’s a Japanese car. I love a Mustang. They’re just different. American muscle cars are really going for point and for gas. They go fast and go straight. But they’re also good for the drifting stuff, because they’re such a lumbering force forward; if you give the wheel a good jerk it will spin out. In a nice way, and then you can control it. I feel like it would be harder to drift in a Porsche because a Porsche is designed not to spin out. But every single car guy in the movie told me never get a Porsche because it will kill you. It killed James Dean, it killed Paul Walker. That’s what these guys die in. Because Porsches are death traps. You’ve got to be careful with a Porsche. So if you want a Porsche, then you have ‘the Porsche talk’. They said: “Ansel we need to have the Porsche talk”.

Did you do much of the stunt driving yourself?

Not much of it, but I did some.

Was is a bit scary to learn?

No, it was awesome. It was a lot of fun. It was in a parking lot, and you can’t hit anything and your car isn’t going to flip over, and you get to drift it around and learn all the cool stuff. And ruin a bunch of pairs of tires. I’m so lucky I’ve never been in a high-speed crash.

What was your favourite car to drive during the making of Baby Driver?

I loved driving the Subaru but driving the Dodge Hell-Cat was pretty cool too. That had a lot of power. I drive it at the very end of the film.

Baby listens to all different genres of music throughout the film, what would be your most played song your iPod right now?

Embarrassingly, a song of mine. The reason is, I listen to my songs a lot while I’m making them. So I’ll probably have 20 versions on my IPod of Home Alone. Different stages as I was making it. Different vocals; a scratch vocal and then a studio vocal comes in. So I listen to my own music a lot while I’m making it to decide what I need to do next. Because I do my own records.

Music plays a massive part in Baby Driver, with a couple of dance sequences thrown in there for Baby too! What was your favourite dance sequence to film?

I started in acting through dance. Dance was the first thing I did. I did ballet as a kid; ballet and tap, and musical theatre dance. So, it was kind of natural for me. because we’re all excited by the music but not only that, it really was right for me in a lot of different ways. I now let my girlfriend do the ballet. I get to watch her do it. I always liked watching my girlfriend dance; more than I do dudes.

In previous roles (and this one) you’ve had a quirk – whether that be a cigarette hanging from your mouth or an iPod in your ears. But what’s your real-life quirk?

Someone made fun of me that I always do this with my wrists [clicks wrist]. Hear how it cracks? Its like a nervous tick. I can also do this [clicks fingers]. I do that when I’m on set. I feel like my quirks really come out when I’m on set. When I’m pacing around and getting ready for a scene, trying to get my intensity up. I’m definitely the most intense version of myself on set. Because that’s when you have to bring your energy up or down, or sadness, or this [clicks]. You sort of realise why actors are fucking crazy. Because we have to do weird things and get ourselves to weird places and unnatural places. So my weird quirks come out when I’m on set for sure. I don’t even want to know what the camera crew and all the other people think of me.

Baby knows sign language to communicate with his foster father, Joe, was that something you had to learn specifically for the film or had you used it otherwise?

No, I didn’t know any sign language. That was something I learned and CJ Jones, who played Joseph, helped me also. And I could sort of lean on him a little bit for help. Luckily I didn’t have to do any extensive scenes in sign language. I mean not luckily; I would love to a whole movie in sign language, I think that would be really cool. I really did enjoy those scenes. The nice thing about sign language is that it is a lot about your facial expressions because when you talk to someone you still look them in the eye while you do the signing and you sort of see the signs with your peripherals. You will clock the signs but a lot of it is acting with your face. And when you see someone who is deaf speak in sign language, or anybody speak in sign language, if you look at their facial expressions there is a lot of emotion. The funny thing about Baby is, I think, he hides his emotions a lot but when he’s speaking to Jo in sign language he is a lot more emotional. And then when he speaks to Deborah, that’s when you really see him start to smile. I like the idea that you don’t see Baby smile until he starts going with this girl and then he can’t help but smile. I think when he tells her his name he smiles too; he can’t help it, everything’s making him smile when he’s around her. Which is very different to how he is around the crew and especially around Doc. I felt like Baby around Doc, I wanted to make him almost, like Baby watched a lot of TV, so I almost wanted to make him act like an action hero or something. Like “one more job and I’m done”. Like an action star. If you watch the film again, pay attention to him almost playing a character when he around the crime people. And then when he’s around Deborah he’s finally able to be himself.

At the end of the film, we discover Baby is only a nickname – his real name is Miles. What’s your nickname?

Ansel? Ansolo. But that was a lot while I was DJing because that was my DJ name. I stopped doing that as much because I wanted to be more open musically and be able to do whatever I want with music. So, now I’m doing everything under Ansel Elgort, and it’s not going to be DJing. But Ansolo is my alter ego as a DJ.

So, you’ve done the action thriller thing with this film, and drama previously, what genre would you like to break into next?

Right now, music is everything to me, so I’d like to do something very musical. But I don’t know, I really don’t mind, I really don’t try and think about genres. I would do anything as long as I felt the script was good, and the character was good, and the director was good. If you had shown me the script for Get Out and said you can play the weird brother, I’d be like ‘yeah’, but I hate horror films. I never watch horror films. I wouldn’t want to do it but if it you had shown me the script and it was an incredible script; it was a cool character; hey you can film that; I’d do it. So you never know what you’re going to do. The same thing with this; I wasn’t like ok I’ve done my young adult stuff, I’m going to do an action film now. I will do whatever I think is a good script, a good character.

Do you have any projects coming up? Anything in the pipeline?

Well I’m going to play JKF, in a movie called MayDay 109 but everything we’re going to take our time with. And make sure the script is right, and make sure we get the right director involved before we rush into anything. So that will be cool and a challenge, and then my EP is coming out and that will also be cool. That’s what I’m putting most of my energy into right now. I’m taking my time with everything and making sure the next movie I do is the right movie.

There’s a song that came out a couple weeks ago called All I Think About Is You, and I write and produce the records too. I sing, and the EP is a little different. It is all electronic production with sort of pop and a little bit dancey. I bet you the first single off it will come out in the next 2 months, and then hopefully by the end of summer early fall it will come out; September.

Baby Driver is in cinemas tomorrow (July 20).