This post contains spoilers about the Need for Speed movie.
All of the stunts you'll see in the upcoming Need for Speed movie from DreamWorks are real.
"There's zero CGI in this film," lead actor Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) said last night after a screening for the movie attended by GameSpot in Boston. Paul plays a street racing car mechanic named Tobey in the movie. "All of the stunts were actually practical. They actually happened; none of it was green-screened. So when you saw the car drive off the cliff, they did that, which is just insane."
This isn't so surprising when you consider director Scott Waugh's background. He was part of the stunt team for dozens of action-heavy films, including The Italian Job, We Were Soldiers, and The Last of the Mohicans. His father, Fred Waugh, was the original Spider-Man.
Waugh sided with realism over the kind of scenes you'd expect from a Need for Speed video game because "he didn't want to lie to the audience," Paul said. "He wanted the audience to know that I was truly driving."
During closed-course scenes on freeways and on the winding hills of Mendocino, California, it's actually Paul behind the wheel, pushing muscle cars to speeds of 130 mph. Stuntmen, however, were used for scenes that required speeds of around 180mph and special jumps and maneuvers.
"They said no," Paul said about asking the stunt crew if he could perform these scenes. Stuntmen also performed the cliff scene and one scene where Paul's character performs a "Grasshopper" jump (above) where his car soars over an on-ramp an onto a busy street.
Paul wasn't just driving straightaways at top-speed, however. For one scene early in the film, Paul needed to perform a slide in a Koenigsegg and end the move within inches of the camera.
"None of the cameramen wanted to hold the camera," Paul recalled. "So Scott, our director, was holding the camera."
Paul attempted the high-speed move three times. On his first attempt, at 50-60 mph, he got about 15 feet from the camera. "You gotta do better than that," Paul recalls Waugh saying. He got even closer with his second try. And on his third go-around, he nailed it, and that's the shot you'll see in the film.
The Need for Speed movie is described as a throwback to '60s and '70s car culture and even pays tribute to other car-focused classic films like Bullitt and Thelma & Louise. Paul described McQueen as a "badass." The film opens in theaters on March 14. I'll have more impressions to give on the film sometime before it hits theaters next month.