When Breaking Bad came to an end in late 2013, millions mourned the fact that Walt and Jesse's adventures would no longer be part of their televisual lives. A superstar of the small screen thanks to the show, it's no wonder that Hollywood came a-knocking hoping to transfer some of that success to movies. Indie flick Hellion and comedy A Long Way Down are both in the can, but first we'll see Paul playing a petrol head in car movie Need For Speed. Here he talks about stunts, training for a fast life and car culture.
Tell us about your character in this latest movie.
Tobey Marshall is what they call a man's man. He's a workingman struggling to keep his shop afloat and he was sent to prison, wrongly accused of something terrible. So right when he gets out of prison, he's on a mission to get from one coast to the other to get into this secret underground race. And he has a right-seater by the name of Julia, played by the brilliant Imogen Poots. They're butting heads. But slowly they start to grow fond of each other
Did you watch some of the classic 1960s and 70s car movies to prep for this role?
Oh, yeah. What's so great about this film is it's not just a car movie, but it's a throwback to the classic car culture films. When I met with Scott Waugh, our director, he gave me this amazing pitch. He said it would be like a Steve McQueen-era film. That got me really excited. That's what first intrigued me about this story. And then he delved deeper into how he was going to tell the story. It's great because I think car movie buffs deserve something like this. It's not just a flashy car movie. I mean it does have that element to it, but it has an incredibly interesting story behind it. So, yeah it was fun doing all this research, watching the Steve McQueen films, and just watching old classic car movies and car chases. It was exciting.
The movie is shot 'in the camera' as opposed to using special effects.
Yes, it's really all practical stuff. It's not all special effects added at the end after we shoot. We're really actually doing it. And they're allowing me – not to do everything – but they're definitely allowing me to do some of the wild driving, which is super fun.
Both the director Scott Waugh and stunt coordinator Lance Gilbert come from stunt families, bringing an authenticity to this movie, what was it like working with them?
It was so great to have Scotty Waugh as a director, because he was born into a stunt family, and he's been doing this practically since he was born. And so he just knows this world so well. And I couldn't think of a better guy to do it. And Lance Gilbert, our stunt coordinator, he's like a third generation stuntman. This set was very testosterone driven and fun. Slowly but surely they let me drive more and more 'cause I think they just felt more comfortable with me behind the wheel.
How do you think the gamers will react to this movie incarnation of the Need for Speed games?
Well what's so great about the games is that they're full of adrenaline, and there's no narrative. So we kind of had a giant blank slate to kind of make it how we wanted, and tell this story however we wanted. And it's super exciting. We have all these car chases, cops are chasing after us, there's a bounty on our heads. Yeah it's wild.
You did a lot of training for this role?
Yeah, before we started shooting they wanted me to go through this crash course – so to speak – just to learn how to do drifts, and slides, and reverse 180s, and even 360s. And I learned all this in the first three days, and it's incredible. It's hard not to do it in your day-to-day life. Once you know how to really use the emergency brake properly you just don't want to ever stop doing it. Nowadays, the emergency brake doesn't really grip as well as it should on a lot of cars. So it doesn't allow you to kind of drift and slide the way you want to. But they have these cars all rigged up for us. They're just giant toys.
Were you aware of the phenomenon of the Need for Speed games?
Yeah, they've been around for many years. And I've definitely played the multiple games and it's fun because all you're doing is just driving these crazy exotic super cars. And now, we're placed inside these cars and getting chased by cops and trying to run away from the bad guys. It's a good time.
Are you into cars?
Yeah, who isn't into cars, right? I mean, I'm really into the more classic vintage muscle cars than these newer super cars, but yeah, I definitely love cars. I want to take them all home with me. They won't let me.
How fast have you gone?
On set, maybe 80 miles an hour. Just on a city street. But in real life, I've gone much faster than that. My first car was a 1982 Toyota Corolla. Gold color. Manual transmission. Didn't really work well. The trunk would fill up with water whenever it rained. But I loved that thing like no other. It could maybe get 80 miles an hour, barely. But that thing was my pride and joy for many years.
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