This weekend, "Need for Speed" barrels recklessly into theaters nationwide.
The adaptation of the popular video game series stars Aaron Paul as a man who was framed for murder and locked away. Once he gets out he plots his revenge, which of course involves taking part in a dangerous, cross-country road rally (as most post-prison revenge plots do).
The movie was directed by Scott Waugh, a former stuntman turned filmmaker who turned the low budget Navy SEAL movie "Act of Valor" into a sleeper hit, and who was personally chosen for this gig by some guy named Steven Spielberg (never heard of him). Joining him on this four-wheeled free-for-all is stunt supervisor Lance Gilbert, who has been a part of so many amazing action movies (including one of the "Fast and Furious" joints) that his resume might be even more jaw-dropping than the things he's able to achieve on screen.
Moviefone was lucky enough to chat with these two gents about "Need for Speed," working with Paul and sensational British actress Imogen Poots, and what it would take to get Waugh to make a movie involving two people talking over coffee.
Moviefone: You guys obviously both come from the stunt world, and I was wondering movie or what specific stunt got you into thinking that it was what you wanted to do?
Scott Waugh: Our fathers were stuntmen, so I don't think I ever had the foresight to say that I ever wanted to be one. I just was one from the beginning. My father had a trapeze in the backyard because he used to be a trapeze flyer in the circus, and I started flying trapeze when I was 5. And it was just in both of our DNA.
Was there ever a conversation where your father said something like, "You don't HAVE to do these things."
Waugh: He wanted me to be something else in the industry. He wanted me to either be involved in cameras or direction and knew stunts was a great vocation but wanted me to be involved in something else.
What were the touchstones for you guys for this movie?
Waugh: At the inception, it was all about having a throwback movie to the films we feel are the greatest car movies of all time -- "Smokey and the Bandit," "Blues Brothers," "Bullitt," "Vanishing Point." So we spent a lot of time watching those movies and focusing on what made them work and the common factor was that the stunts were all real. We wanted to recreate things in there that were little gems and Easter Eggs that were throwbacks to those great movies movies.
Was it hard to get that philosophical approach across? Was there any resistance?
Waugh: No, because when Steven Spielberg and Stacy Snider called me to direct this, they already knew the answer, which was that I would do it 100% real.
What was the hardest stunt to pull off in the movie, from a technical standpoint?
Gilbert: They all had their challenges, really. All of the things we did, we tested and proved everything before we took it to an environment that had other dangerous elements to it. So going in we knew everything was doable. The biggest challenge was communication, because some of these things were four and a half, five miles long. That was our main struggle -- just making sure that everybody was on-point, that there were no other vehicles on the road that shouldn't be there, or people or animals. But that was the biggest challenge. Everything was pretty easy.
What was it like working with the actors? How often were they in the cars and what was that dynamic like?
Waugh: The first thing I did when I cast Aaron, I said, "If you want to do this movie do your own stunts." The great thing about a lot of those old movies is that the actors did a lot of their own driving -- Steve McQueen in "Bullitt," Gene Hackman in "The French Connection," and Burt Reynolds in "Smokey." They did a great job trailing those guys. With the dialogue sequences, too, I really wanted the wheels on the ground look, not two guys on a green screen stage with wheels spinning around. I wanted them really driving because I think it makes the performances so much more real.
Can you talk about working with Imogen?
Waugh: Imogen is a wonderful actor and that's why we cast her. She's so talented as an actor and brings so much to the table and is so likable. Growing up in England, the biggest challenge is that she doesn't have a driver's license. So we literally had to teach her how to drive a vehicle. And that big sequence has a lot of driving. But she seemed to be up to the challenge.
Was there anything you came with that was too crazy or dangerous for the movie? And, if so, have you tucked those away as ideas for the sequel?
Waugh: They don't write the action sequences into the script, we came up with those and kind of reverse-engineered the movie around that. Lance and I always go out and find interesting locations and sit there and dream up the crazy stunts we can do. Then we write those stunts into the script. So we did everything we wanted to do in the movie because we're the ones who dreamt it up. And as to it turning into a franchise, if it turned into a franchise, that would be awesome, because we have a lot of ideas.
Do you think you could ever see yourself doing a movie that's just two people drinking coffee?
Waugh: I would love to do a drama like "Forrest Gump" or "Shawshank." I love those types of movies. But two people talking at a table? Probably not.
They could be in a car!
Waugh: All right, if they were in a car we could probably figure something out.