Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm and Eiza Gonzalez may be supporting players in the Edgar Wright dazzler, Baby Driver. But each grabs the spotlight in the most unique of ways and makes the movie their own slice of heaven.
We caught up with the three stars at a recent roundtable and the trio of talented souls took us inside the mind of writer-director Edgar Wright and lets us know what makes him so special. The film stars Ansel Elgort and Lily James and for the former, it should serve as a launching pad of explosive stardom. He navigates the landmines of this heist-set-to-music-movie with a panache that is utterly impeccable.
Foxx also tells us a story about how he has given Elgort an open invitation to come over to his house at any time. See, the Oscar winner for Ray and bestselling musical artist has a studio in his house and has somewhat of a knack for finding talent. After all, it was him who welcomed an Irish fish-out-of-water Ed Sheeran a spot on his couch and aided the singer in his meteoric rise to the top of the charts. Elgort has music coming out his veins and we cannot wait to hear what Foxx and Elgort do together, given the musical magic that came from the two on Wright’s Baby Driver.
Q: What do you think sets Edgar Wright apart from other directors that he’s so beloved by audiences, cast and crews alike?
Eiza Gonzalez: Edgar has such an eclectic taste on everything. He’s a human walking library of information. Edgar loves music. Edgar loves movies. He’s a cinephile. He is a well-read man. He’s an amazing writer. He is a very curated human being. Being around someone like that, you are definitely going to learn a lot of things. Yes, we did learn a lot of music. But, what I will say is Edgar, no matter how you’ve worked for years, you always are in a constant learning process. When we got the script, it already had an audio pop up. The doors were already in them. He put these little details that weren’t even in the song. I was like, “How is he timing this to the speed I’m reading this?” That’s why you’re like, “This brain is going on a whole different level than we are — thinking in the minimal details.”
Jon Hamm: I think what Edgar’s done in this film is create sort of paradigms, right? So we have these kind of primary colors in many ways. Bats is bright red. Bats is literally a red flag. You look at the guy and you go, “Oh (expletive).” Buddy and Darling are this kind of binary star. Eiza makes the observation a lot where every time you see us, we’re kind of touching one another. We’re a duo. Baby and Debora are always in black and white. They’re not quite formed yet. That was the jumping off point for me to kind of understand these people. Edgar is a remarkably talented individual who has a very specific vision with each one of his films. And you’re not getting him off that vision. He’s driving that train. He’s the hardest working guy on set all the time. He’s on first unit. He’s one second unit. He does not sleep. He does not do anything but make this movie until this movie is made. I am virtually certain that this resonates throughout the whole cast. That’s what you want in a director.
Eiza Gonzalez: Ed cares.
Jon Hamm: You want that guy who ain’t gonna take no for an answer. He’s going to fight for what he wants and he’s going to make the best movie he can. It’s such a pleasure to be in this movie.
Q: Jamie, what most impressed you about Edgar?
Jamie Foxx: Literally, Edgar had it all mapped out. He crafted Bats as sort of the real criminal. This is going to be a weird example but when I watch the movie Set It Off, when I watched it with a Hollywood crowd, they all laughed when they were supposed to laugh and cry when they were supposed to cry. But then I went and watched it at Universal with regular folks. I was sitting with some dudes, the guys in back of me, every gun that was pulled out, they named it. “Oh yeah, that’s that .350.” Every time Queen Latifah shot her gun, he went, “Blam, blam, blam! Get him, get him, get him.” He named every gun. There was a black girl sitting right here and every time something went down that wasn’t correct procedure, she went, “Oh uh uh, no. That’s federal, that’s federal. Ain’t no way, he can’t even front. He can’t even look into it. That’s not his jurisdiction.” My thing was to make Bats the person who knows those types of characters. This may be a show for everybody else, but Bats is really like, “No, we can’t have these loose ends. This dude, I gotta kill him. We gotta kill everybody or we’re going to jail.” His intelligence was street intelligence. When you meet people that are street smart, it’s a whole different energy. These guys believe in real serious consequence.
Q: Ansel said that it was a laborious shoot in terms of 18 hour days and such. It’s not work when you do what you love, right?
Jon Hamm: When you like going to work, the days are long but they’re not hard. That was my experience on Mad Men. I was in 95-percent of the scenes on Mad Men. I had times where I worked 17 days in a row because I was doing reshoots on a movie or something on weekends, [or] whatever it was. But when you like what you do, it ain’t work. It’s true. I’m the first person to say that I knew what my dad did for a living, my grandfather did for a living. I’m lucky. This is not exactly like lead mining. It’s fun. It’s challenging. It can be difficult emotionally. It can be difficult on your family, on your personal life. All that other stuff, yeah. But when you like what you do, when you get to do it with people that you really like and respect, there’s nothing better.
Q: What did each of you find so impressive about Ansel Elgort?
Jon Hamm: He can dance.
Eiza Gonzalez: He’s so talented.
Jamie Foxx: He did amazing for this film and there it is. I can’t wait to see what he does when he comes out.
Q: He mentioned you invited him over your house to jam in your studio. That offer still stand? Do you always invite artists to sleep on your couch?
Jamie Foxx: You know, Ed Sheeran slept on my couch for six weeks when he first started, When nobody knew who he was, he came to my house. Somebody introduced me to him. He said he wants to do music. I said, “Cool, come to my house.” I have an open policy for artists that I feel, and I felt him. He slept on the floor. I would just feed him. He had his little tarp. I would do a live night in L.A., in downtown L.A. I had a live show where all the musicians who either sing backup or play the guitar for Sting and all these other people. So this particular night, I take him, it’s 800 people there and they’re all black. All black, I mean dark. Not even light skinned. The level of music knowledge is way high. So I said, “Ladies and gentlemen, Ed Sheeran.” He pops out of the curtain. He was this little furry with his ukulele. I’m sitting next to a guy named Charlie Burrell, who’s an incredible guitarist. He’s like, “Come on, Foxxy, man. What’s this? Man, you know we like to keep the room right, man. What’s this?” I said, “Let’s see what the kid has.” Within 12 minutes he had a standing ovation. The rest is history. So, I’ve had that policy for Anthony Hamilton, Flo-Rida, Ne-Yo. Nick Cannon used to sleep on my couch when he was twelve to thirteen. It’s been this thing where I let people work. There’s a great energy to the studio that we actually have because we have Slow Jams was done in that studio, Blame it on the Alcohol. Ansel was perfect for this role because he’s very musical. He writes his own music.
We cannot wait to see what Foxx and Elgort come up with next. Baby Driver is in theaters now.