'Baby Driver' Follows Criminal Who Wants Out Of The Game NPR's Ari Shapiro talks with director Edgar Wright and Joe Loya, Wright's technical consultant, about the new movie, Baby Driver, which is about a getaway driver who wants out of the game.

'Baby Driver' Follows Criminal Who Wants Out Of The Game

'Baby Driver' Follows Criminal Who Wants Out Of The Game

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NPR's Ari Shapiro talks with director Edgar Wright and Joe Loya, Wright's technical consultant, about the new movie, Baby Driver, which is about a getaway driver who wants out of the game.


"Baby Driver" is a heist movie told from the point of view of the getaway driver named Baby.


ANSEL ELGORT: (As Baby) I'm the driver.

SHAPIRO: But it's the music that really drives the movie. Chase scenes are choreographed down to the second. Doors slam. Wheels screech all in time to the beat.


BOGA: (Singing) Nowhere to run to, baby, nowhere to hide. Got nowhere to run to, baby.

SHAPIRO: Edgar Wright is a British director who also wrote the film. His movies are often known for their soundtracks. He made "Hot Fuzz," "Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World" and "Shaun Of The Dead." To get the heist part of this film just right, Edgar Wright turned to Joe Loya.

JOE LOYA: I was a script consultant, tech consultant, and I had a cameo in the movie.

SHAPIRO: Wait; where was your cameo?

LOYA: Yes.

EDGAR WRIGHT: I gave Joe the part of a security guard in one of the heists.

LOYA: (Laughter) I just love the irony of that. And everybody who knows me and knows that I'm in this movie - they just love that. It's a juicy irony.

SHAPIRO: It's a juicy irony because Joe Loya used to rob banks. When he and Edgar Wright first met, the conversation went in a direction that surprised both of them.

WRIGHT: We were talking about films a lot of the time. That was what was - surprised me.

LOYA: Yeah, yeah, that's right.

SHAPIRO: Not bank robberies.

WRIGHT: Well, sort of bank robberies in film is what so very quickly the conversation became about. I realized what a big film fan Joe was. And then I was interested because I thought, well, you've done these things, so it's interesting to me that you still watch fiction about them. And your response, Joe, to that was that most criminals watch movies, correct?

LOYA: Right, right, yeah. I was like, you know, most guys when they're arrested - and the cops will tell you this - you go to a video library, and most criminals have the same - at least six of the same, you know, films in there.

SHAPIRO: What are they?

LOYA: Like "Goodfellas," "Casino," of course "Godfather," you know, different movies like that where...

WRIGHT: "Scarface."

LOYA: ...You actually - "Scarface" of course. And then - but the point was that I was making is this is where we learned to talk like criminals. This is where we learned to talk, you know, with violence and aggression and be criminals. A lot of guys are still using a lot of the metaphors from these crime films. They were appropriating, you know, the violence and the mayhem from movies, and it was no different than what we did.

I mean it's - in a way, like, movies kind of teach young boys some maleness, how to texturize your maleness. Certainly in my case, I feel like a lot of my swagger as a bank robber - I kind of picked that up - because, you know, where do you get that from?

SHAPIRO: Edgar, does that make you feel at all weird about making these kinds of movies?

WRIGHT: No. I mean here's the thing. And I'll say this about the movie, and I'm sure Joe would agree - is that without giving too much away about the ending, the movie is sort of about, like, stripping away that romance. I'd say in the first, like...

LOYA: Yeah.

WRIGHT: ...Ten minutes of the movie, Baby is - in his head is like, I'm this folklore hero, and I'm the getaway driver. And I drive fast, and I evade the cops. But I'm not really a criminal. I'm not like the other guys. And then the movie is sort of, like, unfortunately, like, shattering that illusion and saying, no, you are like the other guys. And in the eyes of the law...

LOYA: Yeah.

WRIGHT: ...You are absolutely one of them, and you will pay the same prices they will. So it is - sort of the whole movie is about starting with the dream, in inverted commas, of being a getaway driver and ending with the nightmare of being a criminal.

SHAPIRO: Edgar, when you first met Joe, was there one particular question that you really wanted him to answer?

WRIGHT: Well, I guess I had lots of general questions about the job, a lot of which are sort of things about, like, what car you would drive in. You know, would you dump it? Where would you kind of source cars from? The most specific question pertaining to this movie is, I would ask, would you ever play music on the way to a job?


WRIGHT: Well, and then I remember Joe (laughter) responded - well, there were two things that - Joe, you can fill this in a bit more, but the two things that you said that I just thought were amazing was, one, you said not on the way to a job; I've got enough demons up here making music, which I thought, whoa.

SHAPIRO: Up here in my head, meaning.


LOYA: In my head, yeah.

WRIGHT: And then pretty much Jamie Foxx says that line verbatim in the movie. And then the other thing you said, Joe, is that you said that you would listen to music after a heist. And one of the songs that you would listen to post-heist would be (laughter) "Smooth Criminal" by Michael Jackson.

SHAPIRO: (Laughter).


SHAPIRO: Isn't that a little cliche, Joe?

LOYA: Yes.

WRIGHT: (Laughter).

LOYA: I admitted that I chose "Smooth Criminal" the first time because I was a knucklehead. I was a total cliche.


LOYA: I thought, OK, I'm a criminal. What song should I listen to - oh, "Smooth Criminal" because I'm so smooth.


MICHAEL JACKSON: (Singing) You've been hit by, you've been hit by a smooth criminal.

LOYA: I get in the car. I'm listening, and I'm getting into it. And I can feel how this - yeah, this is it. This is - it's sharp. The violence has just occurred. And then he starts singing the - if you start listening to the lyrics, it's basically the ballad of Annie's killer. Listen; I don't want to play the ballad of Annie's rapist or killer on my pristine getaway. That doesn't work for me. So I went home, and I went through, you know, all my CDs and tried to choose the song that would be best for my getaway.

SHAPIRO: Really. And what did you pick?

LOYA: I ended up with Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb."


ROGER WATERS: (Singing) Come on now. I hear you're feeling down.

LOYA: All the power and the buildup to the bank robbery was in the beginning, and I had to really - anything that came in my head that was harassing me, bothering me - I had to just dispel it all to get to a really vicious, silent place. Well, on the way home, I needed something that was, like, post-coital. I needed something to just chill...

WRIGHT: (Laughter).

LOYA: ...And whatever but also that resembled some of the hazards of my home when I was a child.


DAVID GILMOUR: (Singing) The child is grown. The dream is gone. I have become comfortably numb.

LOYA: And I played it for the next 27, 28 bank robberies.

SHAPIRO: Edgar, can you point to a scene that you did differently because of Joe's input?

WRIGHT: Well, I think a lot of the - I had the sort of shape of the story and the characters, and I think in talking to Joe, it's just detail that's worth its weight in gold. And it was an interesting thing. I would send kind of scenes to him, and then Joe would respond as if they were real people. I remember specifically there was a scene where Joe read the scene and said, damn, this character asks a lot of questions. These guys in this business are a lot more direct than that. And I said well, you know, that's, like, rhetorical questions. And I remember you saying something I guess - is that, like, a British thing, to ask so many questions?

LOYA: Yeah, well, you know...

WRIGHT: So and it actually inspired a line in the movie where, like, Kevin Spacey calls Ansel Elgort and says, are you in? And, like, Baby just repeats it back. He says, am I in? And he says, it's a rhetorical question. You're in. And that was...

LOYA: Yeah.

WRIGHT: ...Inspired by my conversation with Joe.

SHAPIRO: Joe, when you saw the movie, was there any song that you thought, oh, I wish I'd thought to play that when I was leaving the scene of a crime?

LOYA: Well, yes.


LOYA: The beginning of this movie...


LOYA: ...Is just thrilling.


SHAPIRO: The song in that opening getaway chase scene is "Bellbottoms" by the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.

LOYA: Yeah.

SHAPIRO: I think that's a good note to go out on. So Joe Loya, Edgar Wright, thank you both so much. It's been great talking to you.

WRIGHT: Thank you.

LOYA: Thank you, Ari.





SHAPIRO: The movie "Baby Driver" is out now.



UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Singing) Yeah, you know what I want to do. Yeah, baby, to catch the whole (unintelligible) New York City. Yeah, blues explosion.

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