Last year, ComingSoon.net paid a visit to the Detroit set of DreamWorks’ Need for Speed, which hits theaters on March 14. While we previously reported on the production’s automotive side (check that out here), we’re now able to go more in-depth about the film’s characters and the overall plot of Need for Speed. We’ve also added five new stills from the film to our gallery, which you can check out in the viewer at the bottom of this page. Also, stay tuned for an extended version of the film’s Super Bowl spot on Sunday!
“There have been so many ‘Need For Speed’ games,” leading man Aaron Paul tells us, “but there’s no narrative. It’s truly a blank canvass for the writers.”
“They definitely feel like people I grew up with,” says screenwriter John Gatins of his characters. “We set it in basically my home town? I think that there?s a grounded kind of American beaten-up fabric that kind of fits. Especially given what America has kind of been through financially and everything in the last few years. It kind of seems to fit, because these are guys who don?t have money.”
“Tobey Marshall is just a guy’s guy,” says Paul. “He loves cars. He loves racing. His father loved cars. Loved racing? [Marshall Motors template=’galleryview’]–> was his father’s business, but his father has, tragically, passed away. So has his mother. So he’s left alone, struggling to desperately keep this business afloat. It’s not looking good for him.”
At the beginning of the movie, Tobey reluctantly agrees to a race with Dominic Cooper’s character, Dino Brewster. It ends up costing Tobey the life of one of his friends.
“Tobey gets blamed for that,” Paul explains, “He spends some time in prison. Two years later, he?s out of prison and there?s revenge. He is focused, eyes on the prize. He?s after this guy.”
“Basically,” producer Mark Sourian puts it, “[Tobey template=’galleryview’]–> is going across country. He has broken parole because he wants to get to California where there’s a hidden prestigious race. In order to get to that race, he’s got to drive as fast as he can? Basically he knows that the guy who more or less killed his best friend and got him into jail is going to be at that race? He’s starting in New York. Mount Kisco, New York. But in order to get an invite to this race from a mysterious character named the Monarch, played by Michael Keaton, he needs to get the attention of the Monarch. So the way he’s gonna get the attention of the monarch is to attract the attention of the police and show just how good a driver he is by evading them.”
“This film is really kind of a race against time,” Paul continues. “Revenge is really at the heart of all of this. He’s trying to right a wrong and it’s just a wild ride.”
Originally, Paul had auditioned for the villain role, Dino. Director Scott Waugh was, however, so impressed with Paul’s talent (he didn’t become a “Breaking Bad” fan until later) that he decided Paul was perfect to pull off his Steve McQueen-influenced racer.
“That was definitely one of the pitches they gave me,” says Paul. “Steve McQueen was one of the ultimate badasses because he wasn’t trying to be. That’s just who he was. Hopefully I can pull it off.”
“What?s great is that everybody expects Jesse Pinkman,” says Gatins, “In our movie he?s a badass. He goes after it and he tries hard to seek revenge. It?s intense. He comes alive with a fire that people are like, ?Holy s–t!? I mean, Aaron is really – He?s incredible. He added the next unbelievable layer that took our movie to a whole other place. He just carries it.”
For story reasons still undisclosed, Tobey winds up heading to California with Imogen Poots’ Julia Bonet in the passenger seat.
“Our characters despise one another,” says Poots, “particularly at the start of the film. We?re in this car together and Tobey does not want her there.”
“There?s tension the whole time between the two of them,” Paul adds, “?They?re familiar with one another, but still not comfortable enough to be themselves fully. We?re trying to find an arc somewhere within there.”
“We?re constantly butting heads but, throughout the film, her character continues to surprise Tobey,” Poots continues. “He starts to look at her in a different light.”
“Maybe some romance happens?” she laughs. “No! How is that possible?”
The British actress got to keep her accent for the production, much to Poots’ chagrin.
“I wanted to play like a redneck,” she explains, “but they wanted me to be British in the film, so I?m doing my best? It adds something different to the film and again gives the characters more of an awkward beginning. They’re not used to one another?s culture or whatever it is.”
Poots’ contribution to the character even included her own additions to Julia’s wardrobe.
“The headband was fully my idea,” she says. “I wanted to basically break the mold of something where someone had to be kind of very put together and I wanted her to have something that showed that she was willing to change something about her appearance, even if that was a way of getting through to Tobey, that she was on this journey with him and the headband for me is like a throwback to many films where you see, people just do it. They take a piece of fabric and it becomes a souvenir, something that?s on their person, something they?ve come across and I think it kind of elaborates something about character, too. I think the headband is just something I really wanted her to own and I think it?s wonderful to create a costume in that sense.”
Since the film follows the perspective of Tobey’s character, the audience will find out more and more about Julia throughout the film.
“She knows a lot about cars,” says Poots. “It?s not necessarily something that you gather when you first meet her in the beginning, but she?s also, as the story goes on, revealed to be a bit of a daredevil. She?s willing to kind of try things out and she?s a really great role to play because the people behind the script have been pretty liberal too, which way we want to take the characters and what we want to do. It?s a movie about race cars. You want people to enjoy it and have fun and be entertaining, so we’re trying to find as many different arcs and levels within that, in terms of the action environment as we can.”
“First of all, Dominic Cooper is f–ing great,” exclaims Waugh. “Have you guys seen ‘Devil?s Double’? Wow? So I was thrilled to have Dominic, because he’s so talented, and we talked about it. I said, ‘I really don?t want a mustache twirler bad guy. I want somebody who is real and goes through and thinks about things,'”
“Our relationship has us as arch-rivals from a very young age,” says Paul. “Opposite sides of the track. White collar and blue collar and now he’s seeing my ex-girlfriend, which kind of irritates me.”
During the filming of the story’s inciting incident (wherein Tobey’s friend is killed), Cooper managed to three-dimensional Dino in a single scene, showing the character’s reaction to a death he just accidentally caused.
“To watch Dominic?s wheel spin [was incredible template=’galleryview’]–>,” says Waugh. “To really turn that whole thing from regret to ‘Oh no, f–k it, I?m going!’ with only three cuts, it?s great. He has that talent to do it. He was great. I was really stoked that he was able to pull that off.”
Tobey has a traveling road crew thanks to his boys at Marshall Motors, including Rami Malek’s Finn, Ramon Rodriguez’s Joe and Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi’s Benny. They follow Tobey across America in a souped-up convoy of vehicles nicknamed “Beauty” and “The Beast.” Benny, the team’s pilot, brags that he can fly anything and, throughout the film, Tobey puts his claim to the test.
“He ends up stealing a news helicopter,” says Waugh, “and he?s chasing them through the city. We were able to fly the helicopter through the city at street level? I had Cudi in the front seat on the helicopter flying with the pilot. I’m not going to lie, he can’t fly a f–ing helicopter. Let’s not even bulls–t ourselves, right? It’s different than driving a car, but I told Cudi that there’s limitations of putting a camera in a car and there’s even more with putting one on a freaking helicopter, right? And I really — like I really — wanted the audience to know that this is real. He’s in the f–ing bird flying at street level.”
“That’s the kind of cool thing about this film,” says Rodriguez of the Marshall Motors crew. “You get to see the chemistry between the boys. The guys all at the beginning of the film, we’re all hanging out. You kind of feel that vibe that we’ve known each other for a long time. We all grew up in the same neighborhood, so that’s established early on. Then the race. We’re all trying to make it to this race for revenge and redemption and all that good stuff.”
“That camaradeie is so great,” says Paul, “and you can tell that they?ve been friends for a long, long time. That made it very easy to jump into the skin of these characters. We just all really got along. It was something easy to pull out, for sure.”