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How BABY DRIVER Reveals Character Through Colors

How BABY DRIVER Reveals Character Through Colors

Edgar Wright‘s cinema is always incredibly visually arresting, with color palates playing a huge part in that. From Simon Pegg’s red tie (and increasingly red-stained shirt) in Shaun of the Dead to the ample blues of Hot Fuzz to the eerie greens present in the latter half of The World’s End, and pretty much everything in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, vibrant color is unbelievably iconic in his films. This is taken to a brand new level in his latest, Baby Driver; each of the larger-than-life characters partaking in the various heists has his or her own corresponding color, and costumes to match.

During a visit to the Atlanta set last year, we spoke to the cast about their particular roles, as well as with Academy Award-nominated costume designer Courtney Hoffman (The Hateful Eight), about how the costumes reflect the cast and the city where it all takes place.

Baby Driver

For Hoffman, it all started with finding the right look for Baby (Ansel Elgort). “We really wanted him in one costume primarily throughout the whole film,” she explained, “so finding that one costume is almost harder than putting someone in 30 costumes. Baby is a character who really lives his own life and he sees the world in his own way, so we wanted to make sure it wasn’t something that felt trendy or contemporary or ‘hot.’ It had to be something that served what his character loves and his ideals, and he sort of lives in this ‘50s fantasy in a way.”

Elgort explained that Baby tries to be removed from the criminal element of it all, despite being the top getaway driver for ringleader Doc (Kevin Spacey). “He doesn’t like the violence at all,” Elgort explained, “but I think he really loves the driving. But once it gets violent and once he meets Deborah, Lily James’ character, and he realizes that he really likes this girl and he realizes that he’s putting his foster dad in danger and everyone else in danger who he loves, he starts to want to back out of the whole thing, but like any crime gang it’s not easy to just back out.”

Baby Driver

Baby is such a classic sort of figure–“He’s once in the script described as ‘the Gene Kelly of the coffee run,'” said Hoffman–that they wanted his color scheme to reflect his view of the world, and all of his corresponding hoodlum coworkers have bold, bright colors to clash with that. “He’s experiencing this world in a sort of a black-and-white way,” Hoffman continued, “so we liked the idea of him being in black and white while he’s surrounded by all these [dangerous] characters. So every character has been assigned a color. So Bats (Jamie Foxx) is red, and Darling (Eiza Gonzalez) is pink and purple, and Buddy (Jon Hamm) is blue.” Much like a comic book, these colors represent a kind of uniform that’s as much a part of their persona as their personalities.

But Baby doesn’t stay untarnished for long; eventually, the pressures of the criminal world, and his burgeoning love with Deborah (Lily James), lead to consequences and bad stuff. Hoffman said this led her to slightly modify Baby’s clean black and white look by degrees as things start to break bad. “When things start going wrong,” she explained, “and Baby no longer is keeping it together, you see him get blood on his white shirt. And one of the things that we did that’s very subtle and no one will ever care but you guys is, I gradually dyed a white shirt to be four stages of white to grey and so he starts gradually becoming metallic because the whole point is he’s not invested in being in the criminal world and now he’s getting sucked into it and the deeper he’s getting into it he starts becoming darker.”

Baby Driver

The other key members of the gang of bank robbers are colorful reflections of Baby. Darling and Buddy are very much a package deal among the heisters, being a husband and wife, though they maybe aren’t the most well-rounded of people. Hoffman equates them to Bonnie and Clyde, or Clarence and Alabama from True Romance; the love and passion are there, but they don’t make the best choices as a result. “They’re always gonna be selfish and going to Vegas or something in between heists,” Hoffman added, “so they’re not actually developing as characters so you almost want them to look exactly the same until things go wrong, and then the world starts affecting them.”

On the Darling/Buddy dynamic, Gonzales said, “It’s also cute to see how they have each other’s back no matter what. They always compensate each other and they take care of each other. He’ll have my back and I’ll have his.” The actress is also rather smitten with the brashness and style of her character. “She has such a cool energy and she’s such a badass, but she’s kind of like a space cadet as well. She’s like all smiles but she’s just cuckoo. I like to be able to play a character that you can see have super sweet moments and [you] wonder how she wandered into all these guys. Then you see it, and you’re like, ‘Oh, okay. That’s why. She’s a sociopath.'”

Baby Driver

“She definitely has a way of manipulating him,” Hamm added about Buddy’s devotion to Darling. He said his character has blinders on when it comes to her. “Her character’s so carefree and fun-loving and mine’s a little more serious and intellectual, so that’s a good combination. This guy has found himself on the wrong side of the law and enjoying the good things that happen on the wrong side of the law. I think having a relationship with Eiza’s character is one of those good things that tends to happen on the wrong side of the law. I think he very much enjoys that part of it.”

With Bat, things get a lot less lovey dovey. “He’s sort of like the angry dude,” Foxx said. “He’s killing everybody.” Bat is the old hand in the game, and also doesn’t care too much about who knows it. Hoffman, under instruction from Wright, made Bat’s wardrobe the boldest, putting him in head-to-toe red. “Edgar was like, ‘I want him in all red,’ and I was like, ‘All red? We’re doing it?’” Hoffman also said that Bat is the most straight-up Atlanta character in the movie. “Almost everything he wears is from here, things I’ve seen people on the streets wear. The studio’s like, ‘Are you sure?’ And I was like, ‘Get down here!’ This is Atlanta. It’s so bold, and then you see Jamie in bright red in every scene and it is one of the most gratifying visuals of the film.”

Baby Driver

You can see the colorful adventures of a bunch of criminals when Baby Driver hits cinemas June 28. To read about how Edgar Wright crafted a musical-like quality in the action, click here.

Images: Sony Pictures Entertainment

Kyle Anderson is the Associate Editor for Nerdist. You can find his film and TV reviews here. Follow him on Twitter!

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