There are a lot of ways Darling, Eiza Gonzalez’s character in the new heist film Baby Driver, could be defined by the men who surround her. She’s the sole woman on a four-person bank robbing team. She’s married to Buddy, a fellow bank robber played by Jon Hamm. Even her code name, Darling, is a diminutive. And her fate sets off a string of events that leads to the final confrontation between Hamm’s character and that of Ansel Elgort, playing a prodigious getaway driver (a “devil behind the wheel,” Kevin Spacey’s character calls him in the movie), code name: Baby.
And yet Baby Driver defies action-movie machismo. While there are fiery car crashes in spades, Darling is there slinging guns and robbing banks with the best of them, even if they are all men—and she does it in pink fur and gold doorknocker earrings that shout her name. She and Buddy form an inseparable, Bonnie and Clyde-esque duo, complete with matching “his” and “hers” tattoos inked across their jugulars. Their relationship, both personal and professional, is a balancing act, fueled by a healthy cocaine habit that keeps them coming back heist and heist again.
“That’s why that relationship works in the movie, because they both see each other as equals,” Gonzalez said. “I didn’t want to be just a side piece.”
The heist crew comprising Elgort, Gonzalez, and Hamm is rounded out by Jamie Foxx as a particularly cold-blooded robber named Bats, so called for his demented nature. Much of Baby Driver plays out on the road, from its vertiginous opening chase sequence with Baby, Buddy, and Darling to its closing scenes with Baby and Deborah, the diner waitress played by Lily James with whom Baby falls hopelessly, helplessly in love. Much of the shoot also took place inside those same cars, which presented its share of logistical challenges—and thrills.
“That face of fear on all of us is real,” Gonzalez said of director Edgar Wright’s practical stunts, in which the actors rode in cars with stunt drivers. “No acting in there.”
Though she had shot guns on the set of Robert Rodriguez’s From Dusk Till Dawn, in which she played Santanico Pandemonium, the role originated by Salma Hayek, Gonzalez had never fired machine guns like the ones on Baby Driver. “I didn’t want to look weak next to them,” Gonzalez said, admitting she was daunted by the prospect of walking onto a set with such “forces” as her well-established male co-stars.
But, as she reminded herself: “No one gifted it to me,” she said. “I worked hard for this I proved myself.”