We’ve had the opportunity to chat with British actress Imogen Poots several times over the past few months, first on the set of Need For Speed, later for That Awkward Moment and again last week. In all three of our conversations, Need For Speed was the big topic and we’ve talked about everything from the challenge and timing of adapting video games to film to playing a car dealer.
Imogen Poots plays Julia Maddon, “the uptight Brit working for a big-time car broker with an impressive knowledge of cars.” She provides the film’s protagonist Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul) with the Mustang hero car, and much of the movie follows Maddon and Marshall travelling across the country and getting into trouble in that vehicle, meaning their relationship and banter has to carry and entertain audiences. Luckily, the pair had worked together on A Long Way Down and their onscreen chemistry shines through.
Oddly enough, Poots told us while we visited the set of the film doesn’t drive in real-life, nor does she have a keen interest in car culture, yet that doesn’t stop her from getting behind the wheel in Need For Speed and participating in some high-speed stuntwork herself. Don Kaye had the chance to talk with Imogen Poots for Screen Rant about working on a film such as this.
Is this all a bit alien to you, the whole car culture thing?
Beyond. Yes. Yeah, it is.
Elaborate on that a little bit. What was your reaction getting involved in this, being around all these supercars and so on?
Well, you know, I appreciate that people go crazy, they go nuts, like “Poof!” crazy for cars. And I guess I have things in my own life that I’m crazy about too, but cars isn’t one of them. However, when you’re walking onto a set where it’s very car-centric, you sort of have to pay attention a little more, especially if you’re driving them. But you know, it’s a movie about cars and hopefully I think the director wanted Aaron and I to find some sort of heart in it, the characters. But it’s a car movie, that is something which it’s very true to.
Is there an equivalent to this in the U.K., in terms of racing and the fascination with cars?
Well, I think Europe certainly – I think there’s a massive car culture in Europe. America, I think it’s different in the sense of, because you can – America’s such a huge country and a car is essential in a lot of states, so I think the idea of getting a license is far more of like independence and it’s important to your identity. So I understand that, I really, really do, and that’s why it can be such a fascinating thing for some people.
And not being a huge car fan, as you say, what’s it like to sit in a car that’s going really, really, really fast?
It’s cool. It’s kind of crazy, and once you kick back and, like, enjoy it, it’s pretty wild. And also, we got to see some crazy things – like amazing landscapes and Moab, Utah, was one place in which I was just blown away, and being in a car – you know, it’s out of body experience because your organs are sort of flying up by your ears. It’s like being in an elevator when it suddenly shoots down or shoots up.
You have that one stunt sequence, the refueling scene, where you are balanced between the two cars. Can you talk about doing that stunt, how much of that was you, and how tricky and dangerous that might have felt?
Yeah, it was pretty interesting. I did some practice the day previous, so we started 10 miles an hour, 20, 30, and eventually we got up to 65. So on the day of shooting it, you’re sort of attached by a rope to some other guy who’s attached by a rope to some sort of pole. And then you sort of just have to completely trust in them and do it. If you’re going to do it, you just have to sort of do it. But it was all very alien to me, but I had fun. I certainly did things I’ve never done before.
You live in Los Angeles right now, right?
Do you miss England? Do you want to get back there at some point?
I was just there, actually. I was just there for Berlin Film Festival so I went via London, and of course I miss it, because I’m English and my family are there. But I’ve had a really wonderful time living out here and New York is somewhere which feels like home, so yeah, I miss England, but I get back as much as I can.
DreamWorks Pictures’ Need For Speed is directed by Scott Waugh and stars Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Imogen Poots, Ramon Rodriguez, Rami Malek, Scott Mescudi, Dakota Johnson, Harrison Gilbertson and Michael Keaton.
Need for Speed hits theaters on March 14, 2014.