Friday July 07, 2017

Meet the stunt driver behind Baby Driver's crazy car chases

Baby, played by Ansel Elgort, listens to music while driving as a remedy for tinnitus. Music is core to the film's story line.

Baby, played by Ansel Elgort, listens to music while driving as a remedy for tinnitus. Music is core to the film's story line. (TriStar Pictures)

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Ansel Elgort didn't become "Baby" overnight. After all, performing a reverse 270 drift — car lingo for spinning your car backward and forward again while driving — likely isn't something the 23-year-old would get to do in L.A. traffic. But his character in Baby Driver did.

There was a man behind the jaw-dropping stunts in the film, which took second place at the box office last weekend. His name is Jeremy Fry and he spent a lot of time perched on the roof of the various stunt cars. While the stars of the film sat in the cabin, Fry drifted and spun the vehicle from a "pod car."  

Baby Driver Pod Car

Jeremy Fry performed stunts from a "pod car" while Ansel Elgort and Jon Bernthal performing in the vehicle's cabin. (TriStar Pictures)

Much like a puppetmaster, a stunt driver controls the steering, pedals and shifter from above. The actors sit inside and perform for cameras strapped to the hood and doors as if they were driving themselves.

"What that does is it lets the actor who is behind the wheel concentrate on the acting," Fry told Day 6 guest host Jelena Adzic. "From every camera that sees it, it looks like they're driving."

     

One take wonder

What sets Baby Driver apart from its blockbuster counterparts is CGI. The movie doesn't use much of it. All of the stunts, according to Fry, were done on location and without special effects. Many were even done in one take. It's called "shooting the rehearsal."

"It's employed when something is either a little risky, you're running low on time or you know it's something you don't need to practice a whole lot," Fry said. "Shooting the rehearsal means 'let's get ready to go.'"

Rather than setting up for multiple takes, Fry and his fellow cast members performed the scenes as a final take. "It was status quo," says Fry adding that they were pressed for time shooting on the blocked-off streets of Atlanta.

     

Safely defying death

Even if Fry is spending his days driving SUVs up walls and under transport trucks, he's certainly no daredevil.

"The stuff that we do is all really well-rehearsed," Fry told Adzic. "At the end of the day, I've still got to change the diapers on my kids. If I get hurt, I don't work."

And he has to keep their eyes away from some of his work. His family was on set for a particularly violent crash scenes.  Fry was fine but he found out his young daughter saw the stunt differently when her school called to say they heard about his "accident."

Turns out the younger Fry told her classmates about a certain chase scene in the film.

"You do have to censor what they see; what they don't see," Fry said.

Baby Driver

Baby (Elgort, far right), Bats (played by Jamie Foxx, front left), JD (played by Lanny Joon, back right) and Eddie (Flea Balzary, back left) wait in a getaway car. (TriStar Pictures)

     

Teaching the stars

While Elgort is smooth on screen, he wasn't necessarily masters of being cool behind the wheel from day one.

In an interview with GQ Magazine Elgort shared that while Fry taught him some tricks, he was only allowed to do a few stunts on his own and none with his colleagues. "You're in a car with Jamie Foxx and Jon Hamm, and you're not gonna kill these guys," Elgort told GQ about the team's reaction to his performance.

But Fry was much more complimentary in his reaction to both Elgort and co-star Jon Hamm's handling of the stick shift. "The guy's amazing. Him [Hamm] and Ansel both. They did great," he said.

     


To hear guest host Jelena Adzic's interview with Jeremy Fry, download our podcast or click the 'Listen' button at the top of this page.