Ansel, the youngest of three, at first attended the private school Trinity, and his parents signed him up for classes at the School of American Ballet. He had what he described as the “worst feet” in his class, and an insouciance that convinced teachers acting might be a preferable path.
During his senior year of high school, he was cast in a drama called “Regrets” at the Manhattan Theater Club and got his first onscreen role in the remake of “Carrie,” playing the popular jock who falls for the bullied title character.
Though the film was savaged by critics and failed at the box office, Mr. Elgort’s performance as a good boy in bad circumstances stood out.
In real life, he has proved versatile and likable in the manner of 1950s heartthrobs; he could very easily have a variety show. He sings, dances and does extemporaneous impersonations of everyone from the Russian ballet mistress from his school to the British director on “Baby Driver,” Edgar Wright. He has a deal with Island Records and regularly writes techno-inflected songs with sweet, romantic lyrics.
“I can’t say enough about this young talent,” Jamie Foxx, one of his co-stars in “Baby Driver,” wrote in an email. “Ansel’s got that thing. He can act, he can sing, he writes his own music and he can even hoop!”
If Mr. Elgort ever added a fragrance to his repertoire he might call it “Earnest: By Ansel Elgort.”
To his almost eight million followers on Instagram he regularly posts photographs of his mother, and he is given to sending audio messages to Ms. Komyshan that say things like “My love, just wondering how your day is going.”
Not for nothing was his recent single called “You Can Count on Me.”
Mr. Elgort is a little less precocious than he is innocent, with an openness that is both refreshing and an occasional source of trouble. As a kid, Mr. Elgort — who is 6-foot-4 — used to watch Great Danes frolic with other dogs at the park and he knew he wanted to be like that, gently having fun with everyone. Enthusiasm is his most marked characteristic, and that perhaps makes it hard to imagine people who will envy, rather than root for, his success.
There was the time he tried to explain to Seventeen Magazine that he’d had a nice platonic relationship with his co-star Ms. Woodley, but mangled it by saying, “I’ve never once wanted her sexually.” He delivered a good line to Elle about the virtues of monogamy, saying: “If you like someone and the sex is really good and you enjoy spending time together, why wouldn’t you make that person your girlfriend? Why go around dating random girls and having terrible sex when you can be with someone you really like?” But he didn’t really help himself when, talking about his time at LaGuardia (where he met that girlfriend), he said: “If you’re like me and you love dancers, you just have to walk up to the eighth floor and you can get one.” To which his interviewer, Mickey Rapkin, replied, “You make it sound like adopting a puppy.”
Upstairs at “Good Morning America,” he changed into a Tim Coppens jacket and True Religion jeans, talking about fashion and sounding less like an industry royal’s jaded progeny than a starry-eyed kid who has won the lottery and wants to bro out about it.
“The amount of stuff you get when you’re an actor and you’re in a clothing campaign!” he said, telling of a trip a little while back to Prada, for which he first started doing ad campaigns in 2015. “In the SoHo store, I literally went through and picked anything I wanted off the rack. That was an epic moment! Me and my stylist, John Tan, who’s here, were both, like, cracking up. We were like, are you kidding me? We made it!”
Characteristic of an actor in Hollywood’s current ecosystem, Mr. Elgort said that the vast majority of the money he had made came not from the eight movies he had acted in, but from various ancillary promotional activities. Those include branded Instagram posts, like the one he did in May for the e-luxury site Farfetch, wearing a tiger embroidered Off-White jacket alongside a caption that read: “Made easy may seem far-fetched but it isn’t. Thank you @farfetch for hooking me up w dope threads. In preparation for all this #babydriver press. I found everything I could need.”
“I didn’t earn it off ‘Baby Driver,’” he said.
By 8:30 a.m., it was time to appear on camera, a total lovefest that had him gabbing with both the co-host Rob Marciano and a cameraman, who kept jokingly pronouncing his name “Onsel” rather than “Ansel.”
If only he hadn’t answered a question about his formidable co-stars by saying, “Now that I’ve worked with Oscar winners, that’s how I want to keep it.”
The minute Mr. Elgort watched it afterward, he looked worried.
How stupid had that sounded, he asked? Would people think he was “ridiculous?”
Thankfully, it didn’t go viral.
Next was an appearance at “Live With Kelly and Ryan.” The crowd outside numbered around 30 and was even younger than at “G.M.A.”
In a changing area, Mr. Elgort put on a racecar driver-inspired Tommy Hilfiger outfit Mr. Tan had picked out.
The actor quickly realized he might be making a fashion mistake — “What am I wearing?” he said — but with three minutes to airtime, little could be done about it.
So what if Ryan Seacrest (hosting with Kelly Ripa’s vacation replacement, Busy Philipps) brought it up within seconds?
So what if Mr. Seacrest said: “I’m looking at your shirt, your jacket and your shoes. You’re very stylish,” practically italicizing the last word, before adding this closer: “I bet you’ve never had a fashion faux pas.”
Mr. Elgort knew what to do with an insult wrapped as a gift, so he looked out at the audience and went for broke.
“I certainly have,” he said, shaking his head in dismay. “I bet there are some people who have something to say about what I’m wearing today.”
The three shot the breeze for about five minutes, then did a dancing game during which Mr. Elgort clearly outshined his two hosts in the areas of hip-hop, disco and swing. And when Mr. Seacrest made a failed attempt at salsa, his guest gave a somewhat withering estimation of his skills.
“Embarrassing,” he said, before another costume change, another interview (this time just upstairs with Peter Travers).
Continue reading the main story