Getting the soundtrack Wright for Baby Driver
Car chase movie Baby Driver, which opens in Singapore tomorrow, is driven by music
He plays a social recluse in his latest film Baby Driver but in real life, leading man Ansel Elgort has charm to spare.
At the Pavilion Kuala Lumpur mall for the action comedy's Asian premiere on Monday, the 23-year-old US actor - along with English actress Lily James and English writer-director Edgar Wright - worked the screaming fans flanking the pink carpet for more than an hour.
Elgort, who won many teen fans with The Fault In Our Stars in 2014, seemingly accommodated every request for a snap, even staying back to leave no fan un-selfied.
His character in Baby Driver - which opens in Singapore tomorrow - is cool, if anti-social.
He plays Baby, a getaway driver for a criminal mastermind (Kevin Spacey) who blocks out the noise in his ears from tinnitus with music.
James plays Debora, the waitress who fuels Baby's drive to break away from crime.
A lot of the promotion for the film has been organic and by word of mouth. Wright and Elgort also contributed by documenting their world tour on social media.
Part of Elgort's trip to Malaysia saw him trying durian, which he shared with his 8.1 million followers on Instagram, asking: "Am I an honorary Malaysian now?"
Despite the smell, the flavour won him over.
So, would he induct James into enjoying the King of Fruits? That was the question when The New Paper spoke to the trio at the Ritz-Carlton hotel,
Said James: "Yeah, I want to try it. It is ringing a bell. A fruit that smells disgusting but tastes great..."
Elgort said: "You are thinking of papaya."
James' enthusiasm goes with her assertion that she is impulsive, like her character.
The 28-year-old rarely plans things, preferring to go on gut instinct even if, as she said with a laugh, "that means doing the wrong thing".
Elgort is taking fame in his stride and with good humour.
The mention of Singapore brings fond memories.
As a DJ who makes electronic dance music using the moniker Ansolo, he performed in Singapore in 2015 and has plans to return "100 per cent" when touring for his upcoming EP.
"It is amazing what you guys have done there. I went to the Cloud Forest (at Gardens By The Bay) and couldn't believe it was a real place.
"Also the crowd (at the gig) was amazing. I have videos of it that I still watch if I want to get goosebumps again."
Along with the cast, which includes Jamie Foxx and Jon Hamm, Baby Driver's invisible co-star is the film's music.
Wright wrote scenes to fit specific tracks, and sounds from the street correspond to the beat of the songs.
With more than 30 tunes curated for the soundtrack, one of the perks for the leads was being introduced to "tons" of new songs. For James, Barbara Lewis' Baby I'm Yours is one of her "favourites" now.
And her next project is also music-driven, having been cast as the younger version of Meryl Streep's character in the Abba musical sequel Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!.
"I am as ready as I will ever be at this point. In fact, I start (on Wednesday)," said James.
"It will be a different kind of ride but a good one."
ABBA ON REPEAT
She added: "I have Abba on serious rotation. Ask my hair and make-up people. It is on a lot."
For Elgort, he came away with a new music collaboration with co-stars Foxx and Flea, who is also the bassist for US rock group Red Hot Chili Peppers.
The result of the impromptu jam session has yet to be fully realised, but as Elgort put it: "I am not going to waste a Flea bass line."
Despite music always being played on set, the leads said none of the tracks outstayed their welcome.
That is not the case for 43-year-old Wright (Shaun Of The Dead, Hot Fuzz), who said only one unnamed track was ejected after re-shoots. Otherwise, "I still find myself listening to the soundtrack, even on the plane coming here".
Creating the perfect soundtrack required secrecy and Wright made sure that he did not mention any of the tracks to other directors, in case they were used before Baby Driver came out.
Giving a recent example, he said: "When I saw the trailer for (Luc Besson's) Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets and it used Because by The Beatles, I was like 'dammit!', because I had always wanted to use Because in a sci-fi film."
Having already raked in US$73.1 million (S$100 million) at the US box office on a US$34 million budget, Baby Driver's success as an original film among the summer fare of franchise sequels and reboots raises questions for Wright, especially since he and Marvel Studios parted ways over Ant-Man in 2014.
Would he consider another attempt at a franchise picture?
Said Wright: "I have been asking myself that. What is funny is that in the US, Baby Driver is starting to out-gross some of the big franchises it was opening against.
"I wouldn't say no, but if people will show up and watch an original movie that I have written, who could ask for more?
"It is immensely satisfying that a mainstream audience is connecting with the film.
"I like some franchise movies but at the end of the day, it is someone else's property and you are just the keeper of it."