North Texas Daily

Q&A: Aaron Paul, ‘Need For Speed’ director

Q&A: Aaron Paul, ‘Need For Speed’ director

Q&A: Aaron Paul, ‘Need For Speed’ director
March 06
00:44 2014

Preston Barta // Film Critic

Actor Aaron Paul’s first role after “Breaking Bad” is far from his days as “Cap’n Cook,” teaming up with Walter White in the meth trade and calling people— well, you know.

In his new high-octane action flick, “Need for Speed,” Paul portrays Tobey Marshall, a mechanic whose need for revenge sends him on a cross-country adventure in some pretty swanky cars.

The North Texas Daily had the opportunity to speak with Paul and director Scott Waugh (“Act of Valor,” 2012). We talked about their practical approach to shooting the film and getting fast and furious behind the wheel.

“Need for Speed” plays like a throwback to the old race car flicks, such as Steve McQueen’s “Bullitt” (1968) and Burt Reynolds’s “Smokey and the Bandit” (1977). Was that your intentions?

Scott Waugh: “Yeah, it actually was. I was so lucky to have grown up on those movies. My father was a stuntman who pretty much worked on all of those movies. I was on the set as a child. I was always so amazed at what they did and what they accomplished practically— real stunts and wrecking all those cars. There was no CGI. And when the script came through I saw that tone that could be ingested into it. I really wanted to do a throwback to the guys I grew up watching. I want to get back to realism and that’s what we did with the film.”

Aaron, did this sense of realism draw you to the role?

Aaron Paul: “Oh, yeah. It’s definitely what drew me to this project. I was at my desk and I saw the title page, and of course, I had my instant preconceived notions of what it would be. But I started flipping through the script and just loved the characters. I loved that it had a great story behind all these fast cars and races.

When I first talked to Scott, I loved his idea of the film being all done practically. His use of no computer effects was so incredibly brave.”

Waugh: “You were the one doing all the driving and real stunts—you’re a lot more courageous [laughs].”

Paul: “Yes, that’s what I’m doing here. I’m talking about myself [laughs]. But anyway, I thought Steve was incredibly brave to do it this way. He told me that he didn’t want me to just act in it and pretend like I was driving. He wanted me to be in the driver’s seat and learn how to drive all these cars. That idea is what really sold me.”

Because you made the decision to approach everything in a pragmatic way, did you take any grief from the studio? I am not sure what the cost difference is between computer effects and real effects, but it seems  pretty costly to do practical effects.

Waugh: “No. You know DreamWorks is named that way for a reason. They really do support you. They were familiar with my track record. I am all about safety. Yeah, we do crazy stunts, but I try to do it in the safest way possible and keep the problems down to an extreme minimum. They knew what I wanted to do and they were on board.”

Was it interesting for you, Paul, to go from good guy to bad guy in “Breaking Bad,” to good guy in “Need for Speed?”

Paul: “Yeah! I mean, the character I played on ‘Breaking Bad’ was definitely—I guess technically he was a bad guy. However, he had a good heart and wanted to do the right thing. You still rooted for him. But he was lost and broken and not really confident.

My character in ‘Need for Speed’ was the polar opposite. It was definitely intentional to go from ‘Breaking Bad’ to something that was completely different. I just wanted to mix it up because that’s what I like to do. I like to tackle different roles.”

If the two of you were to step out of this hotel right now and get into a car, who would be that one somebody you would race and what would be your weapon of choice?

Waugh: “Oh, man. Aaron and I have been fighting since day one for the—“

Paul: “Gran Torino. Ah, that car. I drove a lot of cars in the movie and all of them were beautiful and fun to drive, but my God—”

Waugh: “We actually built the car from the ground up. We built it as a race car.”

Paul: “We built two identical ones and they were race cars.”

Waugh: “And if I could race anyone it would be Aaron.”

Paul: [Laughs] “Oh, I would love to take you down!”

Waugh: “We haven’t had a moment to race, but there will come a chance where we get on a go-cart track or something and we’re going at it.”

“Need for Speed” opens Mar. 14 in theaters everywhere.

Feature photo: Director Scott Waugh and star Aaron Paul answer questions about the film “Need for Speed” during a round table press conference at The Ritz-Carlton hotel in Dallas on Feb. 6. Photo by Nicole Arnold / Visuals Editor.
Center photo: Aaron Paul in the driver’s seat. Photo courtesy of DreamWorks SKG and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

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