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Aaron Paul talks about the road to redemption in 'Need for Speed'

Aaron Paul
Aaron Paul
Walt Disney Pictures

In the action film “Need for Speed” (which is based on the video game of the same title), Aaron Paul plays Tobey Marshall, a street racer who was framed by a wealthy business associate. Fresh from prison, Tobey joins a cross-country race with revenge in mind.

Aaron Paul at the Los Angeles premiere of "Need for Speed"
Aaron Paul at the Los Angeles premiere of "Need for Speed"
Getty Images

His ex-partner, who learns about the plan, places a massive bounty on his head as the race begins. This is what Paul had to say about “Need for Speed” at the movie’s Los Angeles press junket.

What attracted you to the most to “Need for Speed”?

It was just such a fun ride. When I read the script, I was blown away by the story, the characters. I was instantly invested in it. The idea of jumping behind the wheel of all of these cars and driving around the country very fast was very exciting to me.

When I got on the phone with Scott [Waugh, director of “Need for Speed”] and heard his vision, he wanted to do a throwback to the classic films that started the genre: “Bullitt” and “Vanishing Point” and “Smokey and the Bandit” and “The Blues Brothers.” All of those films, they did those stunts. Nothing was CGI. There was no CG, no green screen.

The fact that he wanted to do all of that for real with this script, because in this script, there’s just some crazy stuff happening, I applaud hm. It was incredible that we actually pulled it off.

How did you feel about the stunts in “Need for Speed,” knowing that director Scott Waugh came from a stunt background?

I thought it was a perfect match. Scott Waugh was born into a stunt family. And all of his friends were second- or third-generation stuntmen. And everyone involved in this project in the stunt world were second-, third-, fourth-generation.

So it’s perfect people to have the reigns of this particular project, because they were doing all of the stunts. They made me feel very comfortable. They made us all feel very comfortable.

What kind of rapport or camaraderie did you have with your “Need for Speed” co-stars who play Tobey’s pit crew?

Yeah, it was instant. We hit it off instantly. I love those boys so much.

There’s a motto in “Need for Speed” that is “Never leave a man behind.” How does that motto inform the films’ story and your Tobey Marshall character?

It’s all about brotherhood, friendship. You don’t leave them behind. If you’re about to win the race, it doesn’t matter, you’ve got to make sure the person is OK. You’ve just got to be there for your boys.

What kind of training did you have for “Need for Speed”?

Really, the first day at work was at a track called Willow Springs, which is an hour north of Los Angeles. I was out there as often as I could be, learning how to maneuver these cars. Really, from sunrise to sunset, I was out there and getting a lot of seat time and having a blast. [Scott Waugh] wanted it to be apparent that I was the one driving these cars. He didn’t want to lie to the audience.

“Need for Speed” shows a cross-country road trip. How has it been going back to some of the places that you filmed “Need for Speed”?

It’s great. We shot all over this country. And everywhere we shot, everyone was so supportive. And so, it’s nice to go back and thank them in person and show them what we did and have them either see their small town or big city on the screen. It’s great. Everyone was so incredibly supportive.

What do you hope audiences will take away from seeing “Need for Speed”?

I think everyone is going to be surprised. I think people are going to walk into this film thinking something and they’re going to walk out being very pleasantly surprised. It’s just a fun, crazy ride with a great emotional story behind it.

For more info: "Need for Speed" website