Need For Speed

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NEED FOR SPEED

DreamWorks Pictures’ “Need for Speed” (opening nationwide on March 14, 2014) boasts a cast of talented actors who are quickly becoming Hollywood’s next generation of stars: Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Imogen Poots, Scott Mescudi and Dakota Johnson.

For director Scott Waugh, casting these actors was one of the most important aspects of making his film. “To me, casting was everything,” he says. “If we were really going to represent the greatest culture of America, which to me is cars, we needed to find great actors to represent that era and hopefully bring back when that era was so cool. For the role of Tobey Marshall, our hero, we couldn’t have done better than finding Aaron Paul. He’s a man’s man, and that’s what Steve McQueen was.”

Aaron Paul’s character, Tobey Marshall, is a blue-collar worker with a passion for racing cars and a vocation for rebuilding them. He runs his family’s auto shop and races the underground street circuit with his friends. His whole world is turned upside down when he is sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit. In prison, he spends two years thinking about one thing: vengeance. While questioning the morals to which he has always adhered, he is determined to clear his name and set things right.

With his acclaimed Emmy Award®-winning performance as Jesse Pinkman on AMC’s hit drama “Breaking Bad,” Aaron Paul has gained a well-deserved reputation for his striking acting skills. “What’s so great about this film is it’s not just a car movie, it’s a throwback to the ’70s classic car culture,” Paul says. “When I met with Scott Waugh, our director, he gave me this amazing pitch and said this movie is characteristic of Steve McQueen’s era, and that got me really excited. That’s what first intrigued me about this story. And then Scott dove deeper into how he was going to tell the story in a different way. I think car movie buffs deserve something like this. But it’s not just a flashy car movie. It does have that element to it, but it has an incredibly interesting story behind it.”

Aaron Paul’s earlier feature film credits include such titles as “Smashed,” “Mission Impossible III,” “Decoding Annie Parker” and “The Last House on the Left.” He also starred in the critically acclaimed HBO drama, “Big Love.” He will soon be seen in “A Long Way Down,” and just completed filming the biblical epic “Exodus,” with Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton and Ben Kingsley, for director Ridley Scott.

Equally important to director Scott Waugh was finding the right actor to portray Tobey’s nemesis, Dino Brewster. “A hero is only as great as his villain,” the director says of the relationship between the two characters. “We searched really hard and found Dominic Cooper. He’s an incredible actor and ideal in this role.”

Dino is a character who is extremely competitive and does something extraordinarily detestable to Tobey in order to benefit himself. He comes from a very privileged background and was a Formula One driver. He’s obsessed with money and success.

Acknowledging that he’s been infatuated with cars since he was a young boy, Cooper says that while other kids his age were outside riding their bikes, he was in his room polishing models of Ferraris. “It was very bleak,” the actor laughs. “It may have had something to do with Magnum’s (television’s “Magnum, P.I.”) 308 GTS ’80s Ferrari. That was a beautiful car. With this role as Dino, I’ve traveled a long way from models of super cars to actually driving super cars.”

Cooper has worked extensively on television as well as feature films and theater. His motion picture credits include starring roles in “The Devil’s Double” and “The Duchess.” His other film credits are “Summer in February,” “Captain America: The First Avenger,” “An Education,” “Tamara Drewe” and “Mamma Mia!” On television he played Willoughby in “Sense and Sensibility” and he was also seen in “Freefall.” On stage, he played opposite Helen Mirren in “Phedre” at the National Theatre, as well as Dakin in “The History Boys”; a role he also played in the radio and film adaptations. He has just completed filming “Dracula Year Zero” and will soon be seen as Ian Fleming in the four-part miniseries, “Fleming,” due to air on Sky Atlantic and BBC America in early 2014.

Of Aaron Paul and Dominic Cooper, director Waugh says, “I personally believe we have the next Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. And we’re going to finally get a chance to watch these two new stars together in a movie. We surrounded them with incredibly talented actors and actresses. Imogen Poots was cast to play Julia Maddon, who goes along on the cross-country journey with Tobey. She is a star from England. And she is extremely photogenic and dynamic.”

Julia is the surprisingly resourceful car broker who first meets Tobey Marshall at the Manhattan Art Space when the new Mustang is publicly unveiled. Although the two start out wary of each other, Julia becomes the conduit for Tobey to take possession of the Mustang and then accompanies him on his relentless 48-hour journey across country from New York to California, to join the De Leon race and compete against Dino Brewster. During their coast-to-coast trek, a relationship between them begins to develop.

Born in Hammersmith, London, Poots recognizes that “Need for Speed” is very unique in its genre and style. “This film is very gripping,” the actress says. “The idea of cars, truck stops, the places and landscapes we go through, it’s all so vast and diverse. The whole challenge of the film is how fast Tobey and my character can get across the land. And that’s been really enjoyable for me. Seeing some of these sights has been quite extraordinary. In terms of sports cars, people go crazy for them, and that’s terrific.”

Imogen recently wrapped production on Peter Bogdanovich’s “Squirrels to the Nuts,” and will soon be seen in the romantic comedy “That Awkward Moment,” starring opposite Zac Efron. Additionally, she will be seen in “Film District,” “The Knight of Cups,” “Filth,” All Is by My Side” and “A Long Way Down” (with Aaron Paul). Since making her breakthrough performance as Tammy in “28 Weeks Later,” Poots’ other film credits include “Fright Night,” “Jane Eyre,” “Chatroom,” “Centurion,” “Waking Madison,” “Solitary Man” and “Me and Orson Welles.”

For the role of Benny, a car detailer at Tobey’s auto shop, who is also a helicopter pilot in the Army reserves and lends his aviation skills to help Tobey and Julia at particularly perilous moments, Scott Mescudi auditioned for director Waugh and landed the part. Mescudi, who achieved worldwide success as a rap artist, read for the director who was impressed with his acting skills but had no idea that he was a famed rapper.

As Waugh recalls, “Scott came into the room and I had three scenes for him to read. By the third scene I was like, wow, this guy has got the x-factor. Then my casting director Ronna Kress, who has been around a lot of celebrities, said, ‘Hey, Scott, I’ve never done this in my career but would there be a way that you could sign something for me so I can give it to my son because he’s going to freak out when he knows you were in here.’ I turned and looked at her, and looked back at him and asked, ‘Who are you?’ He just kind of laughed and he left the room. My assistant came in and said, ‘You don’t know who that is? Bro, he’s one of the biggest rappers.’

“I felt so embarrassed. But it was great because I honestly cast him for his talent. It was Scott Mescudi the guy who’s really charismatic on screen. And I think he’s tremendous in the movie. He’s going to have a very huge acting career.”

Mescudi grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio. He moved to New York and became a rapper, singer-songwriter, guitarist, record producer and actor. He has worked with some of the most prominent rappers in the music business. His debut album, “Man on the Moon: The End of Day,” placed #4 on the Billboard charts during its first week in release.

As an actor, Mescudi was previously cast as Domingo Dean, a young, New York, street-smart entrepreneur on the acclaimed HBO comedy-drama, “How to Make it in America.” He also starred in the film “Goodbye World” and has a starring role in the upcoming film “Two Night Stand.”

“This movie really brings out the car culture and it really brings people into that world,” Mescudi says of “Need for Speed.” “It’s beyond just the action and all the racing stuff. This is a culture that people actually live and breathe. Anybody can make a race car movie, but I think the fact that we were inspired by films like ‘Bullitt’ really puts us in a whole other space as a racing car film.”

Prior to shooting “Need for Speed,” Mescudi had never flown in a helicopter. But since director Scott Waugh was determined to shoot his entire film without the use of green screen, and to put his actors in real situations, the actor found himself in unfamiliar territory. But the experience was exciting. “I loved the realism,” Mescudi says. “I didn’t get a chance to fly before we shot, so I was a little worried about that. But I got to the set and Scott was like, ‘We’re doing this for real.’ And I was like, all right, let’s go. It’s one thing where you’re doing green screen, but it’s a whole other thing when you’re actually up there and feeling it, and being in that moment. It was great.”

Scott Waugh was looking for someone special for the role of Anita and he found her in Dakota Johnson. The daughter of Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson, she is one of the hottest stars in Hollywood, having taken on the coveted role of Anastasia Steele in “50 Shades of Grey.” Anita is the girl Tobey let get away. The sister of his best friend Pete, Anita and Tobey have a long history, but he lost her to the big city and Dino Brewster.

Director Waugh says, “Dakota is the other siren we have in this movie. You can’t take your eyes off of her when she’s on screen. You just get totally sucked into her world and she’s incredible.”

Following her motion picture debut in “Crazy in Alabama,” Johnson went on to give critically acclaimed performances in “The Social Network,” “The Five Year Engagement” and “21 Jump Street,” among others. She will soon be seen in the coveted role of Anastasia Steele in “50 Shades of Grey.”

Johnson says that working with Aaron Paul and Dominic Cooper was a very fulfilling experience. “Aaron is so gifted and so accessible. Dominic is the same. It’s so nice to work with actors who accept what you’re giving them and they give it back to you. It’s so much fun to watch them work.”

While “Need for Speed” is revving up to give audiences around the world one of the most exciting action film experiences of the year, it is also further establishing the already stellar careers of Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Imogen Poots, Scott Mescudi and Dakota Johnson. As director Scott Waugh concludes, “In the beginning we said, ‘The cars are the stars.’ We didn’t realize we were going to get such a great cast.”

* * *

DreamWorks Pictures’ “Need for Speed” marks an exciting return to the great car culture films of the 1960s and ’70s, when the authenticity of the world brought a new level of intensity to the action on-screen. Tapping into what makes the American myth of the open road so appealing, the story chronicles a near-impossible cross-country journey for our heroes — one that begins as a mission for revenge, but proves to be one of redemption.

 

The film centers around Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul), a blue-collar mechanic who races muscle cars on the side in an unsanctioned street-racing circuit. Struggling to keep his family-owned garage afloat, he reluctantly partners with the wealthy and arrogant ex-NASCAR driver Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper). But just as a major sale to car broker Julia Maddon (Imogen Poots) looks like it will save Tobey’s shop, a disastrous race allows Dino to frame Tobey for a crime he didn’t commit, and sending Tobey to prison while Dino expands his business out West.

 

Two years later, Tobey is released and set on revenge — but he knows his only chance to take down his rival Dino is to defeat him in the high-stakes race known as De Leon — the Super Bowl of underground racing. However to get there in time, Tobey will have to run a high-octane, action-packed gauntlet that includes dodging pursuing cops coast-to-coast as well as contending with a dangerous bounty Dino has put out on his car. With the help of his loyal crew and the surprisingly resourceful Julia, Tobey defies odds at every turn and proves that even in the flashy world of exotic supercars, the underdog can still finish first.

 

Based on the car racing video game of the same name, “Need for Speed” captures the freedom and excitement of the game, while bringing to life the passion for the road that has made our love of cars so timeless. The movie stars Aaron Paul (“Breaking Bad”) as Tobey Marshall, Dominic Cooper (“Captain America: The First Avenger”) as Dino Brewster, Imogen Poots (“Fright Night”) as Julia, Scott Mescudi as Benny, Ramon Rodriguez (“Transformers”) as Joe Peck, Rami Malek (“The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn”) as Finn, Dakota Johnson (“21 Jump Street”) as Anita, Harrison Gilbertson (“Conspiracy 365”) as Little Pete and Michael Keaton (“Batman”) as The Monarch.

“Need for Speed” is presented by DreamWorks Pictures, produced by Patrick O’Brien, John Gatins and Mark Sourian, and directed by Scott Waugh. The screenplay is by George Gatins. The story is by George Gatins & John Gatins, and, based on the video game series created by Electronic Arts. The film releases in U.S. theaters on March 14, 2014.

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I can not wait to see this film.

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