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Doing press tour rounds for their upcoming film Need for Speed, star Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) and Scott Waugn stopped by Seattle to sit down and talk about what it took to bring the popular EA Sports video game to the big screen in a big way. They touched on subjects from stunt driving know-how to the advantages of practical effects over CGI, their first cars, driving recklessly and how they hope their film won't be seen in the same vein as the massively popular Fast and Furious franchise. Although I've seen the film, my words are still under lock and key but rest assured, it's certainly the brand of light-hearted car romp one would expected from a movie called Need for Speed.
Q: Aaron, tell me about an occasion in your past when you were driving recklessly outside of a film set.
Aaron Paul: That’s never happened (smirks) I don’t know what you’re talking about. Be safe kids. When you’re young and you get your license, it’s all about the freedom of the road. My first car was an ’82 Toyota Corolla, goldish color, stick shift, anytime it rained the trunk would fill up with water but I loved that car.
Scott Waugh: Don’t we all remember our first car and have such an emotional relationship to our first car?
AP: Yeah, I do think about that car. Anytime I see that car on the road, it kind of puts a smile on my face.
SW: Man, the things I did in that car. I grew up out in the country and my dad was a stuntman. We grew up on a private road so it was like a mile dirt road so my dad taught me to stunt drive on that road. I had a Honda Civic, that I had for four years, and my parents used to send me down the road to go get the mail when I was young to learn how to drive and I started drifting the car and spinning it around. It was private so we were allowed to do whatever we wanted. It was our own road. My mom was always mad if I did that so one day I was in the car and driving down there thinking to myself “I wanna throw a 180 and come back up the hill.” My mom would never know. So just as I’m getting it up to speed and drifting it sideways, here comes my mother around the corner. I was committed though so I did it. I got so yelled at and reprimanded. The only reason I could do that though was because it was private.
Q: Are you guys are hoping to expand this into a franchise?
SW: We hope. We want to work together again.
Q: Do you worry that people are going to compare this to the Fast and Furious franchise?
SW: No, not at all. I think when they see the movie, it’s gonna be obvious that it’s nothing like it.
AP: Once you watch it, it’s so apparent. When I saw the script on my desk, I instantly thought of Fast and Furious. Once I started reading the script, I was so excited about the story behind all of these cars. It was very character driven and story driven, I was instantly invested in these characters. It’s an homage, Scott wanted to do a throwback to the classics.
SW: It was all about the car classic movies that started the whole thing.
AP: Bullit, Vanishing Point.
SW: Bullit is the best car movie of all time. We don’t quote Fast and Furious, we quote Bullit.
AP: Fast and the Furious are fun movies but this is a completely different thing. They didn’t start the genre and they’re not gonna end the genre. Car movies have been around forever.
Q: Having your experience being mostly in stunts and coordinating stunts, did you find you were able to get better action scenes than traditional action directors would get and Aaron did you notice the difference in that when Scott was directing you?
AP: It was such a perfect marriage with Scott and this film because he was born into a stunt family. That was his world. He was the perfect guy holding the reigns and driving this film.
SW: I was lucky. You’re only as good as your experiences and you can only show what you’ve seen. So I was just lucky as a child and until 35, I was doing stunts. I’ve just seen so many things from my perspective. So when I direct my action movies, I’m trying to show the audience what I’ve seen and been lucky enough to see. So there’s no other directors that have done what I’ve done so that’s probably why it feels different to the audience. I’m showing you and hopefully giving you the experience of what I’ve been so blessed to have done and bringing that to the film.
AP: The first thing he told me was “I do not use CG, all these stunts are gonna be practical and I’m gonna need you to be behind the wheel in a lot of it. You need to know how to drive.” We’re so used to being lied to. Movies with CG are such fun movies and are great because they’re in such a fantasy world but he doesn’t want to fool the audience. He wants it obviously that I’m driving the cars and these stunts actually happened, which I thought was really great.
Q: Scott given that this is your second movie and Aaron since you have a background in such an iconic character, what did you guys do differently to prepare for this?
SW: I did documentaries before these and with every movie you do, you find out what the voice of the movie is and the style of the movie and you stick to it. When I gravitated towards this material, I always wanted to do a car movie. I had my sights on doing a car movie after doing Act of Valor and be careful what you wish for because it came to fruition. I wanted to do a throwback. So I stayed true to that. The next movie will be different. That’s the wonderful thing about directing movies, every single one is different...or at least I hope so.
AP: Same. For me, I always try to do the polar opposite of what I’ve just done. In terms of preparation, it’s the same thing but you’re prepping for that particular film and that skin you’re about to zip on.
SW: I was just so excited as a filmmaker to work with greatly talented actors. It’s tough as you’re scrapping your way up as a filmmaker and then to get to work with people like Aaron Paul was fantastic. It was a director’s dream. The whole cast was so good.
AP: It really was. It’s ridiculous how much fun we had. It just doesn’t seem fair.
Q: Did either of you have a favorite scene in the movie?
SW: I’m personally proud of Moab because I don’t think it’s anything that anyone’s seen before and I haven’t done it before. With the helicopter and the car, doing that practically and for real was super challenging.
AP: We shot that towards the end of the film and I kept saying “Are you really going to [hang a car from a helicopter?]” When I read the script, I was like “Ok, we’re gonna do everything practical but you’re not gonna drive a car off a cliff and have it caught by a helicopter? That’s not gonna happen, right?” “No, that is gonna happen.” I could not wait to see that happen and it was fantastic.
Q: Did you actually get to drive that car or would the legal team not let you?
AP: No, they would not let me drive that car.
SW: We’re not reckless. I knew that safety was a huge factor and there are wonderful, professional stuntmen that would take over and execute those scenes so that Aaron could stay safe. It’s not even a safety factor, sometimes you need people who have that experience and expertise level driving in that kind of situation. In case something went awry, they’d know how to handle it immediately and keep it going straight. So we put professional stunt men in.
Q: Did you just do that stunt once?
SW: Yeah. I’ve found in my career there’s just no reason to do those stunts over again. I’ve seen so many accidents in my life and I’ve seen people get killed in stunts by repetition, doing a stunt over and over. For some reason, the director wanted to do something again and I was like “Why? The stunt was great. Why are we doing it again? The only thing that could happen is something bad.” We just did it. So every time we would do a stunt in this movie, it was only once.
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