By Madelyn Olsen
It may not be obvious from looking at the movie poster, but “Need for Speed” is a popular video game that began in 1994. Ten years later, the video game series turned into a film with impeccable real-life stunts that will have longtime “Need for Speed” players feeling nostalgic during the race scenes.
Making a game into a full-length movie might seem like a trepidatious task, but actor Aaron Paul — who plays Tobey in “Need for Speed” and is best known for his role as Jesse Pinkman on “Breaking Bad” — said the task turned out better than expected.
“I got to be honest with you, I was a little hesitant,” Paul said in a round table interview with the Torch and other college journalists. “I had my own ideas of what I thought this script was going to be like, and then the moment I read the script I was just so surprised. … I had such a fun time reading the script. It was such a blast. And then after talking to [director Scott Waugh] and hearing how he wanted whoever was playing Tobey to drive and do stunts for real, I had to jump on board.”
Waugh spoke about the elements of “Need for Speed” that were captured in the movie from the game itself.
“The game actually has a wonderful format, so if you watch the movie in sort of a subliminal way, it follows exactly the format of the game,” Waugh said. “So you start in like an old classic car, then you work to a modern car, and then you’re up to a supercar.”
He added that the movie uses first person point of view through helmet cameras to further replicate the game.
Waugh said he had never personally played the game, but Paul said he used to play the games all the time.
“I used to play ‘Need for Speed,’ but I haven’t owned a game console, because it just took over my life, you know, but I knew of the game and was a fan of the game for sure,” Paul said.
The race sequences are fast paced, and the interesting camera angles bring viewers into the scenes and leave them on the edges of their seats.
Waugh said to make many of the movie’s racing scenes, he would go to the physical locations of shots beforehand to picture how he wanted stunts to be performed and shot.
“It lets me and my stunt coordinator come up with these crazy things that I’ve never seen before by getting it from the environment,” he said. “So I’ll go to Detroit, and I’ll be like, ‘So what if he jumped the car over four lanes of traffic, and that’s the easiest way he can get out?’”
“Need for Speed” isn’t only about the race sequences. The film is sprinkled with emotional scenes with a brooding, underlying plot line.
Paul brilliantly pulls off Tobey Marshall, who is both the cool underdog who guys will envy, and the raspy-voiced emotional man who will make girls weak in the knees.
Tobey is a far cry from Pinkman, but Paul has an undeniable cool factor that makes the transition from drug dealer to race car driver effortless.
Paul said connecting to Tobey was easy from the start.
“I just instantly connected with this guy and knew what he was all about,” he said. “He’s the guy who just can’t catch a break, and I think we’ve all felt that way with times in our lives where it just seems like nothing seems to be going right, and you just gotta keep fighting and pushing forward.”
On talks of a “Need for Speed” sequel, Paul said it “would be awesome.”
“We haven’t even conceived the idea because we’re just focused on the first one, and if the audience wants [a sequel] then we’ll start getting into it,” Waugh said.
“Need for Speed” is airing at movie theaters across the country.