MUSIC DRIVES MOVIE
Director Edgar Wright heard a song more than 20 years ago, which slowly became a fastpaced film exploring how music syncs with life
“The idea for this movie is as old as Orange,” Wright says in an interview.
“I was either 20 or 21 and I had just moved to London. I was working on my first movie I ever made. I was completely broke. I think I had a cassette of Orange that I had copied off someone else, maybe my brother. I listened to Bellbottoms all the time. I just started to visualise this car chase. I thought, this would be the perfect car-chase song in a movie, but what’s the movie?”
Baby Driver, it turned out, was the movie, but it took years for Wright ( Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) to find the story that matched his initial inspiration.
Eventually he hit on his protagonist: an uncommonly young, fresh-faced getaway driver (Ansel Elgort) who obsessively syncs his life and his car chases to the music of his iPod.
The movie wouldn’t just tie together song and cinema; it would be about the fusion of music and action. Actors received their scripts with a thumb drive of music attached.
“It’s something about trying to assign order to life by soundtracking your every move,” Wright says. “It’s that thing when everything breaks right and it’s the right song and the right moment.”
So it’s fitting the movie was essentially born from a single song. It’s the start of the film, too: Bellbottoms kicks off the high-octane opera that is Baby Driver. “I definitely get a kick out of it,” Jon Spencer says. “Edgar is sort of a very Blues Explosion kind of director.”
Wright’s idea underwent many iterations.
He tested a version of it in a 2002 music video for the Mint Royale’s Blue Song. “I thought: What a waste. I just burned off a great idea on this music video,” he says. “Ironically, years later, it became a way of postdating the idea.”
But Wright decided to keep at it. He estimates he wrote the script around 2010, when he started talking to ex-convicts. For research, he’d pepper them with questions about what, if anything, they listened to during heists.
One mentioned that he was superstitious enough that if a truly awful song came on the radio, the gig was off.
The offensive song to him was a Guns N’ Roses Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door cover, but the “hex song” in Baby Driver comes from a tune Jamie Foxx actually detests: The Eagles’ Hotel California. Baby Driver opens in all major cinemas July 13