SXSW: Ansel Elgort, Jon Hamm Rev Up Edgar Wright's 'Baby Driver'

Elgort stars as Baby, a getaway driver who gets caught up with Kevin Spacey's crime boss.

Edgar Wright’s high-octane action film Baby Driver on Saturday roared into its rowdy world premiere at SXSW in Austin, Texas, with castmembers Jon Hamm, Ansel Elgort and Eiza Gonzalez on hand to promote the film.

The action-crime musical pic, which received raucous applause at its close, is the first feature that Wright wrote solo (as opposed to with frequent collaborator Simon Pegg, for instance), and as a film that’s strong on action and slightly lighter on comedy, it stands out from the other titles on his résumé, including Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz

But Wright revealed during a Q&A moderated by Robert Rodriguez that the film has “existed in his head” for 22 years, joking that it’s the same age as Elgort.

Baby Driver tells the story of a young and innocent getaway driver, Baby (Elgort), who gets caught up with a crime boss (Kevin Spacey) and his gang of criminals (Hamm, Gonzalez and Jamie Foxx, to name a few). Due to an accident, Baby has never-ending tinnitus, and must drown out the noise with constant music. 

That music is a crucial component of the film, which draws the audience into Baby’s world. The intense action and driving sequences are often timed to the music, something that Wright experimented with in previous films. “I had so much fun doing those sequences, and it was so creatively energizing, that this movie I wrote it as a way of doing that for the entire movie,” he explained. “So it’s really music-driven, and it’s a little bit of a departure from the other ones.”

Wright described the tone of Baby Driver as “funny in places, but it’s also very tense, and things get kind of serious.” According to Elgort, who previously starred in The Fault in Our Stars and the Divergent series, the mood was similar on set. “It was constantly crazy, it was constantly fun," he said. "Jamie Foxx is a character, Kevin Spacey is a character, Jon Hamm. They may be a group of serious actors, but they are jokesters."

For Hamm, preparing for the role of a bank robber, which Wright wrote exclusively for him, didn’t require stepping out of his comfort zone. “To be mean and awful and vindictive? Just being an actor in L.A. will do that to you,” he joked. “No, Edgar writes these things and makes them so incredibly cinematic, there’s not a whole lot of other work to do.”

Elgort hopes audiences will enjoy the movie as much as he enjoyed working on it. “Doesn’t matter what your gender is, what your race is, or how old you are. It’s really a film for everyone,” said the actor. “I think everyone can enjoy this film, which is awesome to be a part of.”

Baby Driver is set to open Aug. 11 via TriStar Pictures. SXSW runs through March 19.