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Shifting Into High Gear on the Set of NEED FOR SPEED

January 30, 2014
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Actor Aaron Paul captivated and charmed audiences with his compelling portrayal of Jesse Pinkman in the cult-classic show "Breaking Bad". With the conclusion of the series hitting last year, fans wondered what project the talented actor would be attracted to next. The answer? Behind the wheel of a car going over 120 miles an hour on camera.

Last year, I had the pleasure of attending a set visit to Detroit, Michigan for Scott Waugh's "Need for Speed". We got to speak with Paul, the cast and crew, about the exciting experience of being a part of a car-racing film like we've never seen before.

Did they let Paul drive very fast or were they afraid he'd kill himself? "A combination of both," said Paul. "I do drive fast. I've probably gone, maybe on camera 120. And it's legal and I'm flying by cop cars. It's so great."

Waugh of course, is the same director that brought us the raw and personal depiction of Navy Seals in "Act of Valor". When asked about the energy he brings on set, Paul stated, "Oh man, you walk on set and -- you can't really tell today, but it's such a testosterone-driven set. He's a second or third generation stuntman, and he has a very specific, unique vision of what he wants for this film."

"But he's a wild man," Paul continued. "He knows what he wants and he's really a perfect director for it. He's super energetic. Super excited. Some days are more stressful than others, but he's a madman. He's great."

Being a third generation stuntman and director, it feels like a natural fit for Waugh to embark on a car-racing film. "I had already made a commitment to myself during Act of Valor that my next movie was going to be a car movie," said Waugh. "I’ve always been into action my whole life and I wanted to do a car movie. The irony of it all was the serendipity of them {DreamWorks} getting the rights to do Need for Speed and me wanting to do a car movie. They bought it, and literally I was the next phone call."

On working with Paul, Waugh stated, "We were lucky enough to get Aaron Paul to be the lead in this movie, and then when I was talking to Aaron, I said, "Hey, one of my prerequisites is you need to drive. We need to teach you to really drive." I think that was like feeding a kid candy, you know? He was like "Sure!" And my dad worked with Steve, so I have very fond memories of him, and he was an extremely talented race-car driver, and Aaron actually has that quality. We put him in the car for the first day, and I told him, "Hey, if this acting shit doesn’t work out for you, you could be a stunt man."

Despite being based on a video game franchise, the story was pretty much a blank canvas for screenwriting-brother duo John and George Gatins, since the game really doesn't have much of a narrative.

John Gatins elaborated on that concept, "I think that a video game with no narrative is a good place to start, because my brother and I were able to create the world, the characters, the story. The thing that we most took from the game was the landscapes. We wanted to create a quest into the story, so kinda got to do all kinds of cityscapes and mountains and stuff, and that’s why we’ve been to Mendocino, San Francisco, Atlanta, Macon, Detroit, Utah."

The cars are almost like characters themselves in the film, boasting different styles, tones and energies. A movie like this could undoubtedly showcase a bunch of beautiful cars from around the world, but producer Mark Sourian expressed the importance of making the hero car of the film an American car.

"You can't go to Detroit and not consider the fact that you're gonna need an American car," said Sourian. "But the truth is that Scott always wanted the hero car to be an American car. That was something that I think was really important to him and felt like we needed to have it in the movie."

Not only did we speak with the cast and crew behind the film, but we actually got to witness a scene being shot in downtown Detroit. Paul, who plays Tobey Marshall in the film, was being chased by cops traveling at very high speeds, with his his lovely co-star Imogen Poots, who plays Julia.

Despite being the only main female on a very testosterone-heavy set, don't be fooled. Julia is no damsel in distress and knows a thing or two about cars herself.

On her character, Poots stated, "She is a young car dealer. She knows a lot about cars. It’s not necessarily something that you gather when you first meet her in the beginning, but she’s also, as the story goes on, revealed to be a bit of a daredevil. She’s willing to kind of try things out."

The word authentic kept coming up from the team because the stunts are real, unlike it's "Fast and Furious" predecessors.

That challenge excited miss Poots. "I think one thing that certainly surprised me was how if you really focus and you really listen, you’re able to take on a stunt and really do it yourself and feel great and feel excited."

This film seems to have all the necessary elements needed for a fun ride; a daring director, an all-star cast, that also includes Dominic Cooper and Michael Keaton, and super slick and sexy cars, racing all over this beautiful country of ours.

"It's very gritty and edgy," said Paul. "Really, to be honest, I think this film is going to surprise a lot of people."

"Need for Speed" will hit AMC Theatres on March 14th!

Get your tickets as well as theater and showtime information here!

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