Ansel Elgort says, “It’s just so easy to be a hater,” in his Billboard cover story. It’s true.
Hate is indeed this generation’s default mode of expression and there is too much of it in the world. People love to hate on Elgort, but there are many positive things about him. He’s six-four, for one. And this recent song of his isn’t the worst in the world. It’s also absolutely not the best. Also, his movie Baby Driver (where he plays a baby, driver) looks fun.
However, Elgort acknowledges the truth himself in this profile when he says, “I’m super easy to hate.” So we would be remiss to ignore all the hateable parts of the story, which begins with Elgort bouncing a basketball (it’s okay, no one lives below him) on the floor of his beautiful apartment in gentrified Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. He bought the place with the bonus check he earned from The Fault in Our Stars. He’s 23. Go on and hate.
“My whole life, I lived in an apartment where I couldn’t bounce a ball without getting into trouble,” he tells writer Rebecca Milzoff. “Now I can bounce a ball!” Excellent. So:
Instead of buying “someplace douchey,” Elgort decided to renovate this 1890 brownstone, keeping its original stained glass and abundance of dark wood: a bachelor pad as imagined by Antiques Roadshow. “Because he’s classy!” Elgort’s girlfriend, ballerina Violetta Komyshan — a petite, cheerful brunette — explains. She just popped in from the deck to join us for a freewheeling day exploring the city, which, Elgort tells me, is his typical MO when he’s in New York (which is most of the time). “I’m so happy I have my dream place now,” says Elgort, strolling past walls lined with his dad’s black-and-white photos of The Rolling Stones and Leonard Bernstein.
Second thing worth hating is that Elgort is friends with the Chainsmokers, the band that cursed us with “Closer”:
He has also been buddies with The Chainsmokers since meeting them through his one-time roommate, the DJ Pierce Fulton. He later opened for them on their 2015 Friend Zone Tour. “It’s a prime example of how success makes everyone hate you if you’re not underground,” he says when asked about the perhaps inevitable pockets of backlash against The Chainsmokers. “And I’ve also been there. It becomes a meme to hate somebody. But don’t be like, ‘They seem like they’re so bro-y.’ They were never trying to fool anyone into thinking they weren’t bro-y.” He takes a deep breath. “Sorry if I sound heated. It’s just so easy to be a hater.”
You may recall that in my previous post about Elgort’s single “You Can Count On Me,” I described his voice as “like John Legend but not?”
There’s a reason for the similarity:
There’s a Steinway piano overlooking the street on the first floor of Elgort’s house. “In middle school, I really liked John Legend,” he says with a grin, sliding onto the bench and starting to play “Ordinary People.”
Here’s a chill moment:
A New York University student passes by, silently acknowledging Elgort with a bowed head and prayer hands. “That was chill,” decides Elgort.
When the writer references Elgort being mentioned on Jezebel staff writer Bobby Finger’s excellent podcast Who? Weekly, Elgort also seems chill about being a Who?: “It’s important to be able to blend in; otherwise you turn into a Hollywood douche bag. I’m sure plenty of people think I am one, too. I’m super easy to hate. But it’s fine. It’s hard to be liked and successful.”
Though it is tough, people somehow manage to do it. If you’re wondering who are all the folks telling Elgort he’s a great singer, wonder no more:
He admits that he recently had a “who?” moment at the Met Ball, when Frank Ocean approached him. “I was like, ‘He looks like Frank Ocean ... but why is he being so nice to me?’” recalls Elgort. “He said he had seen me singing ‘City of Stars’ [from La La Land] on Instagram, and he said, ‘You have an amazing voice.’” Post-Met Ball, the two hung out in Chinatown, “and no one bothered us, never,” says Elgort. “Then we walked into an ice cream store with a lot of kids, and after two minutes it was like, ‘OK, let’s bounce.’”
Frank, how dare you. Or was it Frank Ocean...?
Just imagine, Elgort and Not Frank Ocean hanging out and eating ice cream. If it was Frank Ocean, then Frank Ocean’s taste is in question.
Here’s what the young, retired EDM DJ says about his next show:
“I want to have a lot of energy,” he muses as we stroll down Second Avenue, interrupted briefly by his iPhone ringing — it’s a friend asking Elgort to drop by his Soho apartment. “Moments of stillness at the piano, but I don’t want to forget that I’m young, and my instincts are probably good. I won’t forget about why I hate rock concerts and why I love EDM concerts. I’m going to keep it really fun.”
Fun. That’s something you can’t hate. Here’s a twist: Choose love.