Need for Speed - Aaron Paul
Need for Speed - Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul) © 2014 DreamWorks II, Photo Anthony Mandler

After 5 years of playing Jesse Pinkman on the critically acclaimed TV series Breaking Bad, Aaron Paul  now takes on the lead role in the action flick Need for Speed, based on the popular video-game, which opens on March 14th.

Paul portrays Tobey Marshall, who runs his family’s auto shop while also racing the underground street circuit. When he’s framed for the racing death of his friend, Marshall is sent to jail. On his release, plotting his revenge, he enters a high-stakes underground race known as The De Leon.

Unfortunately, the car he is going to drive is owned by a big-time car broker whose British colleague, Julia Maddon (Imogen Poots), insists that she joins Tobey on the cross-country trek from New York to San Francisco, where the race will take place.

I spoke with Aaron about his new venture into fast cars and beautiful women.

How much training did you get for the movie?

Need for Speed - Ramon Rodriguez, Scott Mescudi, Aaron Paul, Harrison Gilbertson and Rami Malek
Need for Speed – Tobey Marshall and the crew at Marshall Motors, a struggling auto repair garage in Mount Kisco, NY: (L-R) Joe Peck (Ramon Rodriguez), Benny (Scott Mescudi), Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul), Little Pete (Harrison Gilbertson) and Finn (Rami Malek) © 2014 DreamWorks II, Photo Anthony Mandler

Lots of training. They didn’t want to throw me into a car and say good luck. So I was out at a track in Willow Springs, about an hour outside of Los Angeles, as often as I could be, from sunrise to sunset, whenever I had some free time. It was great.

The first few days was really learning how to get out of problematic situations, like if something went wrong. Then the fun began, just tripped around corners, doing reverse 180’s, learning how to do 360’s, just doing the fun stuff.

How mechanically inclined are you? Can you fix a car?

I can change a tire but other than that, no. I would have no idea how to change my own oil, but I’m sure I could figure it out.

You and Imogen Poots have a great screen chemistry together. Was it hard to find the emotional balance and tone in the movie when you are juggling the action within it?

Need for Speed - Imogen Poots
Need for Speed – Julia Maddon (Imogen Poots) ©2013 DreamWorks II

To be honest with you, [we didn’t have to juggle the action] because we were actually in the driver’s seat. We weren’t acting like we were driving.

There’s no green screen, so that was an easy thing to use, because you’re in that situation.

I love Emmy to death. I just did a film with her when I got this script sent to me, and I wanted her to come along with me, and she did.

You always did movies while you were making Breaking Bad. But as you approached the end of that series was this really a chance to transition into leading big films?

Need for Speed - Aaron Paul and Dominic Cooper
Need for Speed – Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul) and Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper) ©2013 DreamWorks II

Yeah, but I think it was the time for me to jump into the studio system. I always gravitated towards the small passion projects, and I still do those.

I just love independent filmmaking ’cause you walk on set and there’s about 30 people on the crew making something that they all believe in, and you know everyone’s first and last name.

With the studio system I’m learning that the crews are just so giant it’s really impossible to meet everyone.

How did the scale of this movie compare to doing Ridley Scott’s Exodus?

Need for Speed
Need for Speed – ©2013 DreamWorks II

Need for Speed was probably the biggest thing I had ever been a part of before doing Exodus. You go to set and there’s 13 super cars, 12 cop cars, 2 helicopters. It’s crazy. It’s massive and it was so much fun.

But then you go to Ridley Scott’s biblical epic, and you’re surrounded by 700 crew members, 200 camels and elephants and there may be a couple of cheetahs, and you’re like, ‘What’s happening?’ It was epic.

Do you have a need for speed?

Sure. I learned while shooting this film there are tracks everywhere that you can take your car, or rent a car, and race around and do it in a safe manner. And so when I feel that need I go on the track and it’s a blast.

I asked Aaron if there was a stunt in the movie that he wanted to do, but wasn’t allowed? Play the video below to see his reply.


Imogen Poots was asked how much of the driving she did in the movie? Play the video below for her amusing response.



Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.