Aaron Paul & Scott Mescudi - The Interview (Need for Speed)

Aaron Paul & Scott Mescudi - The Interview (Need for Speed)

In his first major role since the completion of Breaking Bad, Aaron Paul stars in Need for Speed as Tobey Marshall, a young street racer who's determined to clear his name after he's framed for a murder he didn't commit. Helping him out along the way is Benny, his eyes in the sky plane/helicopter pilot, played by Scott Mescudi. Together they travel across the country pushing the limits of speed. We spoke with both of them about their roles in Need for Speed and their experiences on set.

Shakefire (SF): Tell us about your experiences driving these insane cars or in your case Scott, flying planes and helicopters.
Aaron Paul (AP): If you want to take on this role of Tobey, our director Scott, just said I need you to be behind the wheel. I don’t want to lie to the audience. I want them to know you’re actually driving. I wanted to take home that Gran Torino so bad.

Scott Mescudi (SM): That was a bad, bad, bitch, man. I was there. That was my first day, when he was doing that street racing scene. I saw all the madness. It was so dope. I got to this point where I was like, “Man, is that a stunt guy or is that Aaron?” And he pulls up and I’m like, “Shit, that’s Aaron! They’re having you do that!?” I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it.

SF: So when you’re in a car now do you just want to go fast?
I do, but I don’t. Shooting this film I learned…we shot all over the country and there’s tracks everywhere we were at. There’s many here. You can just take your car and fly around as fast as you want, but it’s a closed down track and much safer, so yeah, I kinda keep it on the track.

SF: Aaron, you’re coming off something that was so pop culturally huge and Scott, you’re balancing careers in music and film. How do you both look at your possibilities in the future and decide on what to do next?
Well coming off a show that was such a cultural phenomenon I knew I had to be very picky with my next move. I always tended to gravitate towards the smaller, independent side of things, but I knew I needed to finally kinda jump into some sort of studio format. This was on my desk and I read it and I was so surprised that it had such an incredible story behind it all. Also it was just so fun. The idea of driving around this beautiful country of ours in these insane machines was very exciting to me. The show was six years. It was great and I feel so blessed to be a part of it, but it was just so heavy. I wanted to jump into something that was fun and that was good and something that I just never done before.

SM: For me, I always find these pockets to create and then always find a pocket to release a project. Luckily the timing for Need for Speed, like I got the job in the middle of working on Indicud, which is my last album that came out in April. So usually…

AP: So good.

SM: Thank you. So usually you drop an album, you go on the road. The only difference with that circumstance was that I wasn’t able to go on the road like you do. The album came out and two days later I was in Macon getting ready to shoot. I think my fans, they’re patient with me. They know I’m wearing a lot of hats. I went and shot Need for Speed for three months and then went on tour later. I’ve been able to find a balance. My fans are patient with me. So far, so good. I haven’t had any issues.

SF: What prevents the film from becoming just a stunt reel is the humanity and the dynamic of the people. That was definitely a priority for you guys I imagine.
Oh absolutely. It has cars but it’s not just a car movie. There’s a great human story in the middle.

SF: The coolest part of Benny is how funny he is. He’s hilarious. It’s cool to see that part of you.
SM: A lot of people don’t know that 80% of the time that’s who I am, a goofball. The majority of my music is very serious and that acts as my serious side, sort to speak. So the public and the world has gotten my serious side first, which is usually different in real life. You get the nice side of someone when you meet them and then when you get to know them you get to see the serious side of them. So it’s kinda like a reverse to the audience where they got to see an intense side of me first and now with acting I can show them the lighthearted side, the real me.

SF: So much of the film is shot in confined spaces within the cars, helicopters, etc. Can you talk filming those scenes when so much of your acting is done in the front seat?
Usually when you’re doing a driving scene or a car scene, from my experience, you’re on the back of a bed and you’re being pulled by a truck or there’s a green screen behind you. You’re just acting like you’re driving. It’s very boring and you’re like, “Oh my god, another car scene.” But with this you’re just on the road and you’re driving so it was easy. You didn’t have to act, because you actually had to drive. I thought it was a blast. I loved it.

SM: Yeah, I wasn’t claustrophobic at all… The only thing, it was hot. The hot tub was way too hot in the Cessna. There was no real AC. But I think when you’re in it you’re not thinking about the conditions. I think I was so happy to have the opportunity to be in the film and to have the opportunity to do this crazy stunt that I know people would see. So yeah, it wasn’t really a challenge. I made it work. From having conversations with Scott, we made sure we were prepared before we went up there. Scott Waugh wasn’t in the planes all the time. He maybe went up once with me so you think I’m doing these scenes blind and then they have to go check out the dailies and let me know or give me notes the next day what they want me to do. Really it was kinda like me letting off a bunch of different ideas the first day, we figured out what we wanted to do, what tone, and then we kind of just ran with it. It could be a little nervous and restricting if you do not fully have a grasp of the character but ended up working. I had fun.

SF: I read that people thought you’d be a great fit for Dino, having done Breaking Bad, but what attracted you to Tobey and doing something a little bit different?
AP: When it was sent to me I never knew about the whole idea of Dino. I love that character. And I also hate him. It was sent to me, though, with Tobey in mind. They said to read and have Tobey in your head to possibly play. I just found out that initially they were thinking of sending it to me with Dino in mind, but then long story short they put all the options up in front of Spielberg and Steven said, Why don’t we consider him for the lead?” and that was that.

SF: Seems like you guys have a really good franchise here. Any talk of sequels?
Not really; not officially.

AP: We toyed around with the idea, because we had such a blast shooting this movie. We took four mouths to shot it and every single day was just such a different, crazy, wild ride. Just laughing on camera, off camera, so yeah, if the film does well and people want more we’ll give them more.

SM: I would love to work again, haha.

Need for Speed is out in theaters this Friday, March 14. Be sure to also check out our interview with director Scott Waugh.

Matt Rodriguez
Interview by Matt Rodriguez
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