Ansel Elgort just wants to be happy

Bank robbers (from far left) Ansel Elgort (in car), Eiza Gonzalez, Jon Hamm and Jon Bernthal looking criminally sexy. American actor Ansel Elgort has come to terms with his fame and is learning to enjoy it.
American actor Ansel Elgort has come to terms with his fame and is learning to enjoy it.PHOTO: SONY PICTURES

American actor Ansel Elgort had his first brush with fame at the age of 20 when the young adult tearjerker romance The Fault In Our Stars came out in 2014.

And he freaked out.

Speaking to The Straits Times in Kuala Lumpur to promote his new movie, Baby Driver, he says: "I got a little panicked.

"Whoa, I can't walk on the streets. People are taking pictures of me and stuff and I got scared when what I really should have done was enjoy it, embrace it and try to be appreciative of everything that's happening."

That is exactly what he is doing three years later. He looks relaxed and happy to be in the moment, whether he is posing for selfies with fans with practised ease on the red carpet for the film's premiere in Kuala Lumpur last Monday night, trying local fruit such as durian and jackfruit or video-streaming his lunch of Peking duck from his hotel room.

He has 8.1 million followers on Instagram, where he shares pictures of his life, including posts of his girlfriend, ballet dancer Violetta Komyshan.

Social media, he says, "is important these days for business and if you're part of big films like Baby Driver, you have a lot of people who become fans of the film and fans of yours and they want to support your career".

 

"And I appreciate that. I don't mind embracing the fact that I'm a celebrity," he adds.

Baby Driver, in which he plays the title role of a getaway car driver, is the movie that could drive him into the big leagues and he is ready for it to happen.

He says: "That would be nice. The awesome thing about working with director Edgar Wright is he has amazing relationships with directors I'm obsessed with.

"Christopher Nolan saw the movie recently and they did a Q&A together.

"And that's like one of my dream top three, top five directors to work with. Steven Spielberg watched it twice in a row."

People are definitely taking notice of Elgort.

At a party, veteran actor Warren Beatty came up to him with his arms outstretched and Elgort's first reaction was to look behind him.

Putting on his impression of Beatty, he says: "Young man, I bet you're wondering why I know you. I saw your movie, I loved it."

At the same time, Elgort, who is also a DJ and singer-songwriter, comes across as a young man who is firmly grounded. His career plan is simple - in 10 years, he wants to be happy.

"That's the most important thing. 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 and doing what we love to do.

"I want to do my albums, I'd like to play shows and I'd like to work with certain directors and I'm not going to let business or other things get in the way of what I want to do and what's going to make me happy."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 21, 2017, with the headline 'Ansel Elgort just wants to be happy'. Print Edition | Subscribe