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An uproarious Q&A with director Scott Waugh and ‘Breaking Bad’ alum Aaron Paul of the ‘Need for Speed’ movie

A big stunt scene in Need for Speed.

Above: A big stunt scene in Need for Speed.

Image Credit: DreamWorks

Ulrich: But for the actual shooting, did you guys just block the Pacific Coast Highway? Did you get a couple of hours of the day for it?

Waugh: I wanted to. I’m not going to lie. But we had what they call ITC, Intermittent Traffic Control. We would work in 10-minute increments.

Paul: It was 10 minutes, 20 minutes. I would talk to or over hear a lot of locals saying, “Man, I was stuck in this traffic for about two hours because of Need for Speed.”

Ulrich: It’s because they’re high. “It was like two hours, and it was awesome!”

Cop is unsuccessful in his chase in Need for Speed

Above: Cop is unsuccessful in his chase in Need for Speed.

Image Credit: DreamWorks

Waugh: They were so excited about it, because they got to see some helicopters, got to see some supercars. They loved it.

Question: Did you have Aaron in mind when you guys were getting the movie set up?

Waugh: I was the alien just landing on Earth that hadn’t seen Breaking Bad. There were a couple of actors we were looking at for the lead. Personally, I was trying to find, in my mind, the next Steve McQueen. Someone who was cool, who had the edge that Steve had.

The studio wanted to see who we were going to surround these new kids with for the villain, for Dino. Aaron Paul’s name came up. They said, “What do you think of Aaron Paul?” and I’m like, “Who the fuck’s Aaron Paul?” They all looked at me like, “Breaking Bad! You don’t know Breaking Bad?” So I see some of the stuff that he had done, and I’m like, “My God, this kid is fantastic. I think the obvious choice would be Dino, the villain, but the more interesting choice would be the lead.” I felt like that defined the movie we wanted to make, which was something different than expected. I thought Aaron harnessed that Steve McQueen vibe in that edgy, cool way.

Question: Given that you wanted to avoid using too much CG in the movie, what did you have to do as far as visual effects?

Waugh: Seriously, there really were no fake cars, planes, boats, any of this stuff, but there was a lot of visual effects work as far as painting stuff out. When you wreck shit for real, you can only do it once. You can’t re-wreck the car. It’s already wrecked. I would have 27 cameras everywhere, and then we’d have to go in and paint them all out so you guys don’t see them. That’s how that worked.

Question: Aaron, how does it go from mainly being known as a meth-head to being compared to Steve McQueen? That’s a pretty big jump.

Paul: Uh … it feels good? I have to tell you, I was part of that show for so many years. I was so proud of it. I was so unbelievably lucky to be a part of it. I’ll be the first to admit that I lucked out with that show. I played a character that I loved. He was a meth-head, a sad little meth-head.

Waugh: Let’s not judge people too harshly.

Paul: Yeah, let’s not judge. He’s just struggling to keep his head above water, trying to figure out his own life. I started this film, literally, the day after the final day of the show. I flew from Albuquerque to get started at 6:30 a.m. on the final day of the show.

Ulrich: Did you have to do a lot of—this sounds silly, but did you have to go to some kind of next-level driving school to learn some of that?

A flying car in Need for Speed

Above: A flying car in Need for Speed.

Image Credit: DreamWorks

Paul: I signed on to this project about three and a half months out, so we had three and a half months, four months of training. This was right before I started shooting the final season of the show. I really went to stunt school, trying to—he said, “If you’re going to join this film, I’m going to need you to be really behind the wheel. I want the audience to know that you’re the one driving.”

I jumped on the track as often as I could. Any time I had some days off from the show, I’d fly out to California or get on a track near where we were shooting and just learn how to maneuver these cars.

Question: I wanted to congratulate you on your top speed on Top Gear. My question is, the Shelby Cobra you talked about, was that your first dream car, or did you have another splurge car like that?

Paul: My dream car, since I was a little kid, was the ’65 Shelby Cobra. I got that four or five years back. I love that car. She’s my baby. I protect her. But yeah, it’s a great fun car.

Waugh: I used to have a ’70 Chevelle. Still drive it. That’s my everyday car. It has no fucking air conditioning, which really sucks in L.A.

Paul: Tell them your story, when you went to go meet with Spielberg.

Waugh: It’s so sad. I was going to meet Spielberg for the first time in the summer. It’s 105 degrees. I’m on the 405 going zero miles an hour. I’m in a dress shirt. I want to look nice for Steve. I’m sweating my ass off. I’m like, “I gotta get some fucking air conditioning.” We finally got up to speed, and I’m so embarrassed. I’m going to walk in with a sweat ring around my whole shirt. He’s going to think I’m some dirtbag from the Van Nuys airport.

So I take my shirt off. I’m driving down the 405 holding my shirt out the window to dry it out. Seriously. All the way. I don’t want to put it back on in case I start sweating again. So I drive all the way into Universal Studios and I pull in to the guard gate, and I’m like, “Oh, shit.” I’m trying to put my shirt back on so they’ll let me on the lot. It was that moment in time where I realized my ’70 Chevelle wasn’t as cool as I thought it was.

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