Baby Driver star Ansel Elgort explains his love of Asia

  • Movies
  • Wednesday, 09 Aug 2017

Ansel Elgort was in Malaysia last month to promote Baby Driver. Photo: S.S. Kanesan/The Star

Take a look at Ansel Elgort's Instagram, and it’s apparent the actor loves to travel.

In recent months, he has been constantly updating his account (@ansel) from various locations thanks to the movie Baby Driver.

Elgort headlines the Edgar Wright film starring as Baby – a good-hearted young man who works as a getaway driver to a crew of bank robbers.

The Baby Driver press tour brought the actor to Malaysia in July, where he took the opportunity to visit places like Batu Caves, Chin Swee Caves Temple, Central Market and KLCC. He also indulged in as much local food as possible.

“I like to experience the people and I like to be engrossed in the culture,” he said.  "I don’t like to stay in the hotel and eat in the hotel. I remember the first night here, I ate in a mall. And I said, I don’t want to eat in a mall. I want to go wherever people from Malaysia go (to eat).

“I also want to see beautiful places. I am like that everywhere I go because I think that’s the real way to experience a country. I am lucky enough to visit all these different countries. I want to have real memories and not just hotel memories.”

The 23-year-old actor is best known for his breakthrough role in the movie The Fault In Our Stars, and has had roles in Carrie and the Divergent franchise.

He is also a singer-musician, who is currently working on his EP – Save Me – with hopes of releasing an album soon.

The son of fashion photographer Arthur Elgort and opera director Grethe Holby, the young star also sometimes deejays (as Ansølo) and has a dance background.

1. What Asian countries have you visited so far?

I’ve been to Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand and China – not for press, just for fun when I was younger. And also Bali (Indonesia).

I love Asia because it feels so foreign to me. And I like it when things feel foreign because it allows you to grow as a person.

The best part about growing in New York City is that it’s a multicultural city. I can walk five blocks and end up in a Russian neighbourhood, five more and I’m in an Italian neighbourhood; five more, in a Chinese neighbourhood.

And I like that about the world, to be immersed in different cultures. Being an artiste is being human, it’s about connecting with yourself and connecting with the world. If you understand the entire world and not just your group it can allow you to be a much better artiste.

2. I hear you tried durian, roti canai and fried rice. What has been your favourite Malaysian food so far?

I had a curry with squid at this restaurant. The curry tasted very unique. I like spicy food. I like it when I am crying and my nose is running, you know? That was amazing.

I really like durian too. I think it’s a very special fruit.

3. In the film, your character is an amazing driver. Who taught you to drive and do you remember the first time you drove?

My mother taught me. She is the good driver in my family. My dad does not drive... he drives a little bit but he hates it (laughs).

I drove on a nice windy road, and I remember learning about being smooth and being in control. I was 16 years old when I got the permit, and I started driving straight away.

4. Your character uses cassettes to record things. What is your own relationship with old school things?

I love old school things. My house is an old house. The house I bought in Brooklyn, New York, was built in 1890, and it has old wood details. I did some renovation on the house, but I said don’t take any of the old details out.

In fact, what I did was to take out the new stuff that people put in when someone else fixed the house up and I didn’t like it. I said take it all away but leave the old stuff.

I love old movies, old music. I like new movies and new music too but I love learning from the past. I love old clothes. I love vintage shopping. I love old cars. Old things just have like a soul to it. I think when things get more modern, they lose a bit of that soul.

Objects that are old feel more grounded and mystical, versus something new that feels like they’re from a factory. But it’s like that Woody Allen movie Midnight In Paris, everyone wants things from the past because the past is better. I love the past. I don’t think it’s better. (But) I understand, people love nostalgia.

5. Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?

In 10 years, I want to be happy. Like that’s the most important thing for me.

It feels like a lot of people in this industry aren’t happy. But that seems ridiculous to me because we’re living our dream, in doing what we love to do. So where did things go wrong?

So, I want to make a conscious effort to be happy and to do the art I want to do. I have certain goals, and I want to follow those goals. I don’t want to let anything come in the way.

I want to make albums and I want to play shows. I like to work with certain directors and I am not going to let business or other things get in the way of what I want to do and what is going to make me happy.


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