Make no mistake about it, if you're a fan of car racing and fast fancy rides you will enjoy the upcoming action adventure "Need For Speed." How do we know this? Yahoo Movies was invited to preview roughly 20 minutes of footage from the film and what we saw was loud, fast and fun. We also talked to "Breaking Bad" alum Aaron Paul (who gets his first big-screen star vehicle, so to speak, with the movie), director Scott Waugh (a stuntman-turned-director who says this movie is more realistic than the "Fast and Furious" and other action films he's worked on), and producer John Gatins.
Here are six things we learned about the big screen adaptation of the popular video game that needs to hurry up and arrive in theaters on March 14.
1. There's no Jesse Pinkman here, only shades Of Steve McQueen. And revenge.
The story revolves around Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul), who's on a quest to clear his name for a crime he didn't commit, and also features a deadly cross-country road race. Paul hopes that audiences are rooting for him from the get-go.
"Tobey Marshall is just a guy's guy," Paul said. "He loves cars. He loves racing. His father loved cars. Loved racing. He's struggling to kind of keep his business afloat. This film is really kind of a race against time. Revenge is really at the heart of all of this. He's trying to right a wrong and it's just a wild ride ... this film is packed with many emotions. That’s what’s so great about it. I hope that people watching this movie will be pleasantly surprised. It’s a very emotionally driven piece for sure.
The actor went on to say that he looked to "everything Steve McQueen" for inspiration.
"He just exuded that sort of culture and he’s such a badass," Paul explained. "I hope that when people see this film they think that Tobey is kind of a badass."
2. The film is grounded in reality, but rules were bent (so you can see a helicopter carry a car).
We don't want to spoil the magic of this particular stunt, but be on the lookout for some extra entertaining action when Tobey's pal Benny (played by rapper-turned-actor Scott "Kid Cudi" Mescudi) steals a news helicopter and flies around Detroit at dangerously low levels. To get those shots, director (and renowned stuntman) Scott Waugh strapped himself outside the helicopter.
"I had Cudi in the front seat on the helicopter flying with the pilot and I’m not going to lie, he can’t fly a f-----g helicopter. Let’s not even bulls--t ourselves, right?" Waugh recalled. "It’s different than driving a car, but I told Cudi, because there’s limitations of putting a camera in a car, but there’s even more with putting one on a freaking helicopter and I really wanted the audience to know, this is real. He’s in the f-----g bird flying at street level. So, the only way to get the shot was I had to strap it and fly off the skids of the helicopter with the camera to get that viewpoint to see out the windshield, because there’s no other way to put the camera out there."
3. The car stunts in this movie are fast, furious, and more realistic than 'Fast and Furious.'
Asked how this movie differs from the popular "Fast and Furious" series, Waugh was speedy with a reply: "Because it’s all real. We haven’t done that [in other movies]. I can say that because I was a stuntman on all those movies. We used to do everything practically, and we’ve gone on to green screen now. So 99 percent of the time nowadays, if an actor is in a car, he’s on a stage and there’s green screen there and he’s doing dialogue. I was like, 'We’re not doing that anymore. We’re going back to on the road, going the speed, and hanging on the outside of the car and filming 'em.' And I just think subconsciously the audiences know the difference. I think you’ll see this movie and realize all the other stuff you’ve been watching is fake, because inherently you’ll say, 'This is real.'"
4. Video game distributor Electronic Arts gave the filmmakers creative freedom.
" The great thing about [working with EA] is that they had good faith and they liked our initial story," said producer John Gatins when asked about their relationship with the gaming company. "We went up to the EA campus and pitched them ... 'Look we'll be respectful of all corporate boundaries' to an extent. They have great relationships with all the cars we got to put in the movie and that was a big deal ... we destroyed some of them. It's funny, every car company would say to us 'My Pagani Huayra is way faster than a Koenigsegg Agera.' Everybody had the fastest car, but they were great and Electronic Arts was along for the ride and gave their input here and there. It was a good relationship."
5. "Based on a video game" translated to "blank canvas" for the cast and crew.
"'Need for Speed' was the first app I downloaded for my iPhone when I got my iPhone," Paul said of his pre-movie ties to the game. "I used to love racing games. I think it’s great. That’s what so cool about this movie. It’s kind of a blank canvas. There’s no narrative in the video games. Scott’s vision was, 'Well, we kind of have a blank slate. We need to use exotic cars. They need to be fast.' That’s pretty much it. He wanted to have the audience feel like they’re in the car with us. He did that. It’s just such a wild, crazy ride. You’ll see, we use a helmet cam quite a bit. There’s a lot of scenes where the audience actually feels like they’re driving the car. That’s what you see when you’re playing the game. It was fun."
6. And speaking of helmet cameras, the director's dad invented them.
Why should we trust director Scott Waugh when he assures us he's done everything possible to get audiences behind the wheels of the speeding cars? Because his father, renowned stunt performer Fred Waugh, who was the first Spider-Man stunt double, invented the method for doing just that.
"My father in the '80s invented the helmet camera and it was back when we had 18-20 pounds on your head, which was a lot, and now that technology has changed," Waugh explained of his long history with understanding how to shoot first-person action sequences. "I remember asking my dad, I was young at the time and I was like, 'What’s up with the helmet camera? Why do you want to do this?' And he’s like, 'Because people always ask you, when you’re either an extreme athlete or a stuntman, "What’s it like to do that? What’s it like to be on fire and jump out of a building and backwards at 300 feet?" And you [say], 'I don’t know. You would just have to do it to understand it.' My dad said he wanted to put the audience in the boots of the people actually doing it, so you as an audience can understand the sensation of what it’s like."