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Edgar Wright on the music, cars and choreography of 'Baby Driver'

BTS/ Director Edgar Wright with Lily James and Ansel Elgort (center) on the set of TriStar Pictures'
BTS/ Director Edgar Wright with Lily James and Ansel Elgort (center) on the set of TriStar Pictures' "Baby Driver."
Wilson Webb

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JAN. 23 UPDATE: Edgar Wright is nominated for a Grammy Award in the Compilation Soundtrack category, and the movie garnered three Academy Award nominations for Film Editing, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing.


There would be no "Baby Driver" without music, choreography and cars. 

Writer/Director Edgar Wright's latest film follows Ansel Elgort as Baby, a young, introspective, spectacularly talented getaway driver who can’t do his thing unless he has the perfect tune queued up on his iPod.The music was so specific – Wright even put the exact songs in the script – that he became paranoid about another movie using the music he planned to use.


The movie that scared Wright the most was James Gunn's "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2." Since the two are friends they played a cagey text game of Go Fish about what songs – or more specifically, what music acts – were in each of their films.

EDGAR WRIGHT: Earlier this year, before "Guardians 2" had come out, I suddenly had a panic, I thought, Oh, what if one of my Baby Driver songs are in Guardians 2? 

So I texted him and we had this funny text conversation...where I said: Hey man I was just panicking that some of my Baby Driver songs are in Guardians 2. 

And he goes, Well, do you have any ELO? 

And I was like, No. Do you have any Queen? 

He said, No. Do you have any Sweet? 

And I said, No. Do you have any Barry White? 

And he goes, No. I was going to use a Barry White song but I didn't. And I said, Well I'm using Barry White. Neither of us divulged what the song was... we just went back and forth, and then we figured out that neither of us were using the same songs.


Wright didn't just want the music to be part of Baby's character, he wanted it to essentially provide the rhythm of the entire film.

EW: It was always the idea of this movie to make it an action movie that's completely driven by the music. So as well as having an amazing stunt department headed by Darrin Prescott, who was the second unit director and the stunt coordinator, we also had Ryan Heffington who is the choreographer for the whole movie.... Ryan will come up with a sequence based on my notes and storyboards, then he'll show it to me and probably Bill Pope, my cinematographer. In some cases, like the opening, this is one shot. So then you're looking to see where you can keep it interesting for the whole two-and-a-half minutes of "Harlem Shuffle."


The most ambitious part of the film – that didn't involve a massive car chase – is the title sequence. Shot in one continuous take, the camera follows Baby has he goes to buy coffee while moving through busy city streets listening to "Harlem Shuffle." Wright shot it on the first day of filming.

EW: I think it's a good thing to do a shot that’s very complicated on the first day because it really fulfills a number of tasks. One, it shows to the studio that you're not messing around and it's like, 'Whoa, this is gonna be a different kind of movie.' And, number two, I think it brings the cast and the crew together. Because it's a shot on the first day of the shoot employing so many extras and all of the [assistant directors] and all of the [production assistants] and everybody from every department — camera, sound — everybody's employed in this one shot. And not only that, number three, it's something that they can watch back and see that it works. Because if the shot turns out great, then it's actually a good morale booster for the crew. Because everybody can sit around and go, 'Wow, that looks really cool.'
By the way, they shot that scene twenty-eight times over the course of that first day and used the twenty-third take for the final film. 


To make sure he was using the most authentic getaway cars for the heists in"Baby Driver," Wright interviewed ex-cons and ex-getaway drivers about the cars they used. 

EW: One of the biggest things was that getaway drivers in bank robberies don't use conspicuously cool cars. Like you wouldn't use a vintage muscle car. You wouldn't use an expensive sports car because you're just crying out to kind of get caught...By their very nature they're more everyday commuter cars. So, in the script originally the first draft of the script I had populated the script with models and makes of the most stolen cars in America. 

In the original "Baby Driver" script, Baby drove a Toyota Corrolla in the opening chase scene. But the studio had a different idea...

EW: The studio read the script and one of their notes said, 'Can the cars be any sexier?' I think they used the word 'aspirational', which is an interesting thing. And I said, 'well that kind of goes against the point of the movie'. Because the whole point of what a getaway driver tries to do is to blend into traffic and disappear...They begged me to come up with something sexier. So, I got to give the credit to the stunt team...Darrin Prescott and [stunt driver] Jeremy Fry were the people who said, 'Well, what about if – it's still a sadan and it's still an everyday car – but what about a Subaru WRX? Because it's like a secret rally car and the gearheads will go nuts. It's still like normal enough that it's like an everyday car. It's not a sports car that costs a quarter of a million.' And I have to say they were totally right.

To hear the full interview with Edgar Wright – including his reaction to Anthony Bourdain's tweet about "Baby Driver" – click the play button at the top of the page.

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