If you've seen the Need For Speed movie trailers or read our set visit report then you might be familiar with the "hero car" of the film, a heavily augmented, custom-built blue and silver 2013 Shelby GT500. The "Beauty" as it's known as in the video game adaptation comes into the possession of Aaron Paul's Tobey Marshall character thanks Julia, a high-end car broker player by Imogen Poots, who gets pulled into Tobey's revenge mission across the nation.
While on set we had the chance to sit down with Imogen Poots to discuss her role in the Need For Speed adaptation, Julia's style and accent, shooting across the United States and working with director Scott Waugh.
We were watching you and Aaron were sitting in that car while the crane shot was coming down, and it looked like you guys were talking to each other, but you were turning away from him, like you were angry at him. Am I reading it totally wrong, seeing it from a distance? What’s going on in that scene?
Imogen Poots: There’s tension the whole time between the two of them, and that’s the real idea, I think, with the movie, is to give it a story and a foot line inside of all the action and so this is kind of a midpoint during that trip. So, they’re familiar with one another, but still not comfortable enough to be themselves fully. So, we’re trying to find an arc somewhere within there.
Can you tell us a little bit about your character?
I play Julia and she is a young car dealer, I guess, to some extent. She knows a lot about cars. It’s not necessarily something that you gather when you first meet her in the beginning, but she’s also, as the story goes on, revealed to be a bit of a daredevil. She’s willing to kind of try things out and she’s a really great role to play because the people behind the script have been pretty liberal too, which way we want to take the characters and what we want to do. It’s a movie about race cars. You want people to enjoy it and have fun and be entertaining, so we’re trying to find as many different arcs and levels within that, in terms of the action environment as you can.
Mr. Gatins said that at not point did they say, “Oh, we’re going to make Ms. Poots put on a Boston accent or talk very American.” Was that a relief to know that wasn't going to be required?
Hell, no. I wanted to play like a redneck, but they wanted me to be British in the film, so I’m doing my best, but it’s nice. I kind of understand that perspective too, because again, it adds something different to the film and again gives the characters more of an awkward beginning. They’re not used to one another’s culture or whatever it is. I can see their point of view for wanting to try that.
Do you get to do any driving? Mr. Paul gets to do a certain amount of driving. Do you ever get behind the wheel and put your foot down?
I do get behind the wheel. I do get behind the wheel.
First of all, the huge kind of dribbling irony of the whole project is that I don’t actually drive and I somehow manage to live in California without driving. It’s ludicrous, but in this film I do drive and it’s terrific. I mean, we’re doing stunts with guys who are at the top of their game, and very much believers in let’s do stunts that are potentially realistic, rather than something that’s completely animated beyond anything and understanding, which I like that. Sometimes, like with the driving, we’re doing a lot of stuff, and Aaron does a lot of the stunts, when he’s actually controlling the car. I wouldn't be able to that, because I would get distracted by passing pigs, but no, it’s been a blast. I've never done anything like this before.
Did you have to do any driving training or anything to prepare for it?
I did a little bit. Yeah. It’s also more to get used to the speed of the car, because it’s like being on a roller coaster when you’re going at that speed.
If I’m not mistaken, you’re wearing a headband when we were watching. Are you nervous to be wearing a headband in the movie, you know, like what you’re wearing is going to be something that people are going to be looking at in a year. You know what I mean? So, talk a little bit about your costume and the headband.
The headband was fully my idea. I wanted to basically break the mold of something where someone had to be kind of very put together and I wanted her to have something that showed that she was willing to change something about her appearance, even if that was a way of getting through to Tobey, that she was on this journey with him and the headband for me is like a throwback to many films where you see, people just do it. They take a piece of fabric and it becomes a souvenir, something that’s on their person, something they've come across and I think it kind of elaborates something about character too and I think the headband is just something I really wanted her to own and I think it’s wonderful to create a costume in that sense. I think the trivial things in terms of what pants the character is wearing or what hair, it can be seen as trivial are actually very, very, very vital to holding on to what you can, especially in a studio film, in regard to character.
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.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.