Aaron Paul and Scott Mescudi Talk Atlanta, Cool Cars and ‘Need for Speed’
We recently had the chance to sit down with Aaron Paul and Scott Mescudi to talk about their new flick Need for Speed which is out March 14th! They chatted with us about the cars from the film, the stunts, their favorite Atlanta hangout spots while they filmed here and more!
So when you get in the car now, are you like, “Oh, I just want to go fast.”
Aaron: 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, and you can just take your car and fly as fast as you want, but it’s a closed down track and it’s much safer, so yeah, got to keep it on the track.
Did you guys get to keep any cars or rather buy any cars, from this movie?
Aaron: Scott and I, Scott Waugh and I, were fighting over the Gran Torino. There was two identical Gran Torinos, but during the Macon, Georgia race, they destroyed one of them by accident during …
Aaron: I guess when they’re drifting around into the alleyway, they drifted around and slammed it into the building, and it just destroyed it, and just bent the frame of it. And so there was one remaining, and there was two people wanting it.
Scott: Somebody gave me a discount on one of them Mustangs.
Aaron: Did you take a helicopter or anything?
Scott: I wish, I wish. No, I should have just, on my last day, just never got out of it and just flew home.
Aaron: “Well, I’m going home!”
We were talking earlier about the possibility for sequels, and it seems like you guys got a really good franchise going here.
Scott: Thank you.
Is there any talk yet?
Scott: Not really. Not officially.
Aaron: We toyed around with the idea because we had such a blast shooting this movie, and it took four months to shoot it, and every single day was just a crazy wild ride. Just laughing on camera, off camera, so yeah, if the film does well and the people want more, we’ll give them more, right?
Scott: I would love to work again. (Laughing)
I’m kind of curious. Aaron, obviously you were involved with something that was so pop culturally huge and transcendent, and so your career, you kind of have to be an engineer. I would think you have to put some thought into what kind of things you deliberately want to do, and Scott, you’re a man of balancing careers and doing different interests, so tell me a little bit about how you both look at your possibilities and your future and decide what you want to do.
Aaron: Well coming off of a show that was just such a cultural phenomenon, I knew I had to be very picky with my next move. I always tended to just gravitate towards the smaller, independent side of things, but I knew I needed to finally jump into some sort of studio format, and this was on my desk, and I read it, and I was so surprised that it had such an incredible story behind it all, and also it was so fun.
The idea of driving around in this beautiful country of ours in these insane machines, was very exciting to me. The show, for six years it was great, and I feel so blessed to be a part of it, but it was just so heavy, and so I wanted to jump into something that was fun, and that was good, and just something that I’ve never done before.
Scott: For me – you were just asking what it’s like to kind of juggle both. I always find these pockets to create, and then always find a pocket to release a project. And luckily, the timing for Need for Speed, I got the job in the middle of working on Indicud, which was my last album that came out in April. So usually –
Aaron: So good!
Scott: Thank you. So usually you dropping on me going the road. And the only difference with that circumstance is I wasn’t able to go on the road. The album came out, and two days later I was in Macon getting ready to shoot.
On the road?
Scott: Yeah, you know what I mean? Not promoting the album like I should have been doing, I would – traditionally an artist’s supposed to go and do that, but I think my fans, they’re patient with me, they know I’m wearing a lot of hats, they know I’m super Aquarian to the max, and I went and shot Need for Speed three months and then went on tour later. So I’ve been able to find a balance, my fans are patient with me, and so far so good. I haven’t had any issues.
With a movie like this, the thing that prevents it from just becoming a stunt reel is the humanity and the dynamic of the people, and I think that’s what draw people in in-between the races and stuff. That was definitely a priority for you guys.
Aaron: Oh absolutely. And it’s not – it has cars, but it’s not just a car movie. Like you said, there’s a great human story behind it all.
And I read too that some people probably thought you’d be a great fit for Dino because of Breaking Bad, but what attracted you to Toby and doing something a little bit different?
Aaron: You know, when it was sent to me, I never knew about the whole idea of Dino. When it was sent to me, I loved that character. I also hated him. But it was sent to me with Toby in mind. They said, “Read, and have Toby in your head to possibly play,” and so I just found out during this whole press thing that initially they were thinking of sending it to me with Dino in mind, but long story short, they put all the options up in front of Spielberg and Steven said, “Why aren’t we considering him for the lead?” And then that was that.
Did the strong moral center attract you after the moral ambiguities of Breaking Bad?
Aaron: Yeah. Yeah!
Scott: Tell that story about how you met Steven. The first time you met him.
Aaron: Oh, Spielberg?
Scott: Yeah. I like his story. It’s really awesome.
Aaron: You know, I’d just moved to LA from Idaho, I was seventeen years old and I was working in a movie theater, Universal City, that’s connected to Universal Studios, and two weeks into working there, we were doing a premiere for Primary Colors. I was help there, and I was taking people’s tickets as they walked in, and then the first celebrity that I recognized was Spielberg, and my spine instantly started hurting, and he walks by me, and I almost shook his hand after I grabbed his ticket, and I thought to myself, “Oh my God. I have made it!” (Laughing)
And it cut to… I didn’t see him for like fifteen years, and we’re now working together, but yeah, first time I met with him on this project was after I’d already signed on, and we just sat down.
Scott: I just think that’s a cool story.
Aaron: Yeah. And I told him that story.
A little foreshadowing.
Aaron: “You know, we almost met before,” and yeah.
So much of the film is in confined spaces within the car, within the helicopters. Can you talk about how it as filming those scenes when so much of your acting has to be you in the front seat?
Aaron: Yeah, I mean usually when you’re doing a driving scene or car scene, for my experience, you’re on a back of the bed and you’re being pulled by a truck, and there’s a green screen behind you, and you’re just acting like you’re driving, but with this – and 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. And so it was easy, you didn’t really have to act because you actually had to drive, so I thought it was a blast. I loved it.
I think a lot of stuff gets put on Scott for being a stunt man and that whole thing and making it happen for real and all that, but tell me a little bit about in those quiet moments in-between the explosions and the car and everything, about him as a director of an actor guiding you to a performance.
Aaron: It’s really … so great. But it’s coming from a guy with a lot of testosterone. I mean you’re walking through a cloud of testosterone on set. You know what I mean?
Scott: He’s a f**king dude.
Aaron: And just boys! And they all grew up together. And it took a minute to get used to that, but then I just found it endearing in a way, just these bros just hanging out. But he knows this story. He developed this story with the writers, and he knew how he was going to present it to the world. So yeah, how he communicated what he wanted was great. He always had our best interests in mind, and he didn’t ever want to hurt our feelings if he wanted to change something. And so he was just very easy to talk to, and then we just collaborate and just make it happen.
Scott: I would have never gotten in that helicopter without his encouragement. Because it’s coming from a stunt man. It’s not just a dude who got this script and got this gig and has never done a stunt in his life. He was like, “We’re going to throw you in the helicopter for real!”
Aaron: “Good luck!”
Scott: Good luck! Every stunt that I did, I felt like Scott would have done it too, or has done it at some point. So it gave me the confidence to not be such a pussy.
Aaron: I mean he’s the man. He wanted to get a specific angle on – I think it was a helicopter shot.
Scott: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.
I heard about that.
Aaron: Oh he did? He’s just like, “You know what, I’ll just go up there and strap myself in and just hang,” completely outside of the –
Scott: I was nervous the whole f**king time.
Aaron: He was way more nervous.
Scott: I had to do the scene, and it was like I was half in the scene, half not, because I was like, man, if this little man falls off this helicopter, we ain’t going to have no sequel!” (Laughs)
I have to ask, because you guys spent so much time in Georgia, where did you guys hang out?
Scott: Ormsby’s. That was good.
Aaron: We’re going there tonight, if you guys want to come.
What kind of food you guys like? Because the South is known for its food.
Scott: I love some good southern ribs.
Antico is great pizza.
Aaron: It’s my – pizza’s my favorite.
You can’t do wrong with Antico.
Aaron: You can’t.
Scott: I just don’t remember any names.
Aaron: Yeah, I honestly don’t remember.
Aaron: Oh, there’s the Steamhouse? Crabshack?
Steamhouse Lounge, yea! Their seafood is amazing!
Aaron: You been there? God, it’s so good. The pound and a half of snow crab.
Scott: I can’t really remember. We got to give room service some skin at the W.
Aaron: The real room service.
Which one did you say after?
Scott: The midtown. That’s where I was at. You came to my – this is funny, you try to come see me one night, and you went to the downtown – no, you went to the midtown one first, and I’m at the downtown one.
Aaron: Yeah, so I’m like, “Hey, I’m downstairs, bro.” You’re like, “One second.” And you’re looking everywhere for me. And you’re like, “Hey, where are you?” I’m like, “I’m in the lobby.” “Which one are you of?” I’m like, “There’s another one?”
Were you guys spotted out a lot, or did you kind of fly under the radar?
Scott: Yeah, but people were cool. I don’t think we ever had a situation. People were respectful.
Aaron: Yeah, I don’t regret – yeah. No, everyone was very …
They’re probably keeping it quiet, and they’re like, “Oh my God,” they’re tweeting about it.
Scott: I’ve noticed down here, people are respectful. If they see you working and not trying to f**k up the work or f**k up your focus or anything like that, and we had – yeah, I think we had a couple people here and there asking for photos but nobody really interrupted.
Aaron: I got yelled at by a girl that other day, because it was such a long night, and I just wanted to have maybe fifteen, twenty minutes to myself with my wife in the back corner of this bar, so I decided to not take pictures for a second. And this girl comes up saying, “Oh my God, will you take a picture with me?”
I’m like, “Oh, you know, I’m just hanging out right here,” and then her friend’s like – and then this bouncer kind of steps in-between us, and like “I’m sorry, it’s nice to meet you. I’ll shake your hand.” And then I hear, I’m sitting down, I hear, this girl goes, “Oh my God, he’s not going to take a picture with her? My friend’s famous!” And then I was like, “What?” And then Lauren stands up, she’s like, “Excuse me!”
Scott: Wifey! Nice! Nice!
Aaron: The protective wife. I’m not going to mention who the famous – but yeah, it was just so …
Scott: I love that. That’s awesome.
Aaron: It was awesome. But yeah.
Scott: That’s awesome. Having the wife to hold it down, baby? Okay, every man’s dream, man! OH MY GOD!” (Laughing)
Aaron: Yeah, my wife – (Laughing)
Scott: I’m serious.
What do you guys want people to take away from this film, or why should we tell all our readers to go see it?
Scott: Man, I personally feel like it’s better than what people are expecting it to be. It’s a ride from beginning to end, it doesn’t stop. And it’s fun. There’s intense moments, there’s sad moments, and then there’s a lot of fun moments. It has it all all across the board. And if you’re into cars, action, and awesome actors like Aaron Paul and myself, come check it out.
Aaron: Come check it out, yeah.
Scott: I’d watch it if I wasn’t in it. I think that’s one of the things that I think before I approach any project. It’s like, would I watch this if I wasn’t in it? That’s how you know if it’s a good scripts or it’s something worth being a part of. That’s how I feel about Need for Speed. I was like, “Dear God, I want to fly around in helicopters, and I want to work with Aaron Paul.”
Aaron: Yeah, and that’s why you signed up for it. Because you read it, you loved the story, the characters, and you decided to just go for it.
I kind of love too that guys and girls will like. It’s a date night for it, and no one’s complaining. Every one loves it.
Aaron: Yeah, it’s a fun ride.