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Aaron Paul has a need for speed

By John Gaudiosi

Video Game Reviews

1:30 PM EDT, March 12, 2014

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With Electronic Arts selling over 140 million copies of "Need for Speed" video games over the years, DreamWorks decided to bring the racing action to the big screen. But director Scott Waugh (Act of Valor) didn't want to make a cheesy, special effects-laden driving flick. The stunt man-turned-Hollywood director pays homage to the classic car films from the '60s and '70s by filming all the stunts in real life (which is pretty amazing after you've seen the movie).

Behind the wheel of this movie franchise is Aaron Paul, who proved his acting chops in the Emmy Award-winning series "Breaking Bad." Paul plays mechanic Tobey Marshall, who builds and races muscle cars on the side. After being framed for manslaughter, Marshall sets out on a cross country chase for revenge in a custom-built Ford Mustang. That same car is available for gamers to drive in EA's "Need for Speed Rivals" game. Paul talks about his own experience with cars in this exclusive interview from the set in Detroit.

How into cars are you?

I like cars. I don't think to the extent as my character does (in "Need for Speed"), but I think these cars are fun and it's fun to drive fast and go crazy.

What was your first car memory?

My first memory of a car...my first car was an '82 Toyota Corolla. It was a manual. The second gear didn't work. I just skipped from the first to the third. Anytime it rained, the trunk would fill up with water. I took such good care of that car, though. I loved it so much.

How has this movie changed your opinion about cars?

I think I just appreciate the cars more. I don't know if I'm more of a car guy because of this movie, but I just appreciate the mechanics of it more and the people that are into doing all this wild, crazy stunt stuff. I applaud them because it's a crazy lifestyle.

So we won't be seeing you in the news getting a speeding ticket?

No, I'm sure that will be the case. (Laughs.) But let's be honest, I think maybe I'm just in denial.

Do you feel your character, Tobey, is an anti-hero in "Need for Speed"?

He's got a lot of jackets, so he's definitely an anti-hero. (Laughs.) No, I don't think he's really an anti-hero. I think people are definitely going to be looking at him as a guy's guy. He's definitely out for revenge, but for the right reasons.

How did it feel coming off of "Breaking Bad" and that intensity and then doing an action movie?

It's been like a night and day difference in a way, but it's great. I've never really done a lot of action, but for a film that has a lot of action...there's just a lot of sitting around doing nothing. There's a lot of hanging out watching the stunt men make my character look cool and I'm like, "Good job. Thank you for doing that for me.

You guys drove pretty fast today (on set).

Yeah, we did. Let's be honest. I do all my own stunts. (Pause.) No, I have been doing as much stuff as they will allow me to do.

Did you go to driving school?

Yeah, driving school was really teaching you how to get out of problematic situations. It was Survivor School. It was fantastic. It was so fun. It was just three days in a row all day, but then by the end of the third day I knew how to do reverse 180s drifting around corners, doing a full 360 while driving and then driving out of it, or drifting; going to the side and stopping on a mark. I'd do some of that in this film and it was a blast. I recommend it for everybody. A lot of parents will send their kids to it to learn how to do this stuff to get out of problematic situations and to understand the mechanics of the vehicle. And it's super fun.

What was it like working with Imogen Poots?

I begged and pleaded for Imy to do this with me, it just kind of fell into my lap out of nowhere. While we were shooting, the majority of the film is these two characters inside of a car driving across country. So I of course wanted to be comfortable with the person I was playing opposite of and I was absolutely comfortable and confident in Imogen because she's brilliant and hilarious. I can't imagine myself not trying to force her to do this.

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