The titular protagonist of “Baby Driver” listens to music at his job just like millions of other working stiffs.
The main difference? Baby happens to be a getaway driver who scores his high-speed car chases with a custom soundtrack.
“Baby Driver” features a number of heart-pounding sequences, a star-studded cast and writer-director Edgar Wright’s signature no-moment-wasted approach to dialogue.
Despite all that, critics and audiences alike have raved most about the film’s 30-song soundtrack, which Wright painstakingly pairs with the action unfolding on-screen.
Eiza Gonzalez steals heist thriller ‘Baby Driver’
Fresh off the film’s strong opening weekend, Wright spoke with the Daily News about how his obsession with music fueled the film’s development and the hilarious request the movie’s fans keep making on Twitter.
NYDN: Somehow, “Baby Driver” has managed to make iPods seem vintage or retro.
EW: I literally have one in my pocket. I still use my iPod. I’ve still got a 160-gigabyte black iPod and I still use it.
Streaming is fine when it works. When it doesn’t work, it’s incredibly frustrating. I want to listen to the music that I own and not go through the internet to do it. So I still use my iPod.
NYDN: There seem to be overlaps between the film’s protagonist, Baby, and details from your life. How do you relate to Baby and in what ways are you completely different?
EW: I think a lot of times it’s not necessarily a conscious thing. But when you’re writing characters, there are parts of you that go into the character. Sometimes you’re either living vicariously through this alternate reality version of yourself. Or there are things that you do that are in the character.
There are elements of me in Shaun, but also Liz in “Shaun of the Dead.” There are elements of me in Nick Angel, but also Danny Butterman in “Hot Fuzz.” There are elements of me in Gary King, but also Andy Knightley in “The World’s End.” There are elements of me in Scott Pilgrim, for sure.
With Baby, I’m definitely obsessed with music and I find music is something that I really enjoy, but also can’t live without. I find it difficult to get inspired or motivated or even walking if I’m not playing the right kind of music.
Also, when I was 7 or 8, I used to have tinnitus as a child. I’d sort of suppressed that memory. When I read that Oliver Sacks book “Musicophilia” — I was working on “Baby Driver” at the time — it brought out my memories of tinnitus. And that was the missing piece of the puzzle with the character.
Obviously, on paper and on the poster, it’s a big car-chase action-thriller. But what it’s also about is our relationship to sound and music.
NYDN: A lot of feedback for the movie so far revolves around how the experience resembles a rock concert. People leave the theater super fired-up.
EW: Speeding! (laughs) I’ve seen tweets from several people saying, “Are you going to pay my speeding ticket when I blast out of the AMC at 90 miles per hour?”
NYDN: As much as the film celebrates music, Baby also uses music to withdraw from the world. It’s when he takes the headphones out that he begins making human connections.
EW: I think, for a lot of people, music is an escape. In the movie, Baby’s literally using two escapes: the music and the getaways.
But I think there’s an element at the start of the movie where Ansel’s character is living in a bubble. Music is part of his security blanket in a way. He is almost fooling himself that he’s not a criminal.
And the plot of the movie is that reality pops that bubble. As the film goes on, he realizes he can’t exist in this fantastical idea of being the getaway driver who’s got a heart of gold. He’s just there for the buzz and not any of the consequences.
The whole premise of the movie, which Jon Bernthal lays out in the first scene, is you can’t be in crime without being a criminal.
As such, I think the music is linked to that because it’s his salvation and his motivation. But when it’s gone, it’s sort-of debilitating.
I’m not trying to say something negative about music itself. In a way, music is helping him compartmentalize.
You know that Baby’s a good guy and he’s got into this under duress, but the story increasingly presents the idea that this is a work environment that he can’t be in. It’s corrosive, and unless he extricates himself, he’s going to be just as bad as the others or dead.
NYDN: What would you say is the guiltiest pleasure on your iPod?
EW: I’m going to sound like such a hipster, but I don’t think of embarrassed by any of it. The things that were guilty pleasures are no longer guilty pleasures anymore. Maybe 15 years ago you would say, “Oh, I love ABBA.” But everybody loves ABBA. If you said you loved ELO, well, everybody loves ELO now. They’re hipper than ever.
I’m trying to think of something that would shock you. Something you might find curious is I listen to a lot of disco songs. Some people find that strange.
A song that regularly gets stuck in my head is “More, More, More” by the Andrea True Connection. It’s something I listened to when I was a kid and is an earworm that pervades. Any time I’m on a set, it pops into my head and I start singing it. It makes my cinematographer laugh.
Why is this disco song by an ex-porn star stuck in my head? I don’t think it’s a bad song, but that would be as close as it gets to my guilty pleasure.
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