Aaron Paul‘s first role after “Breaking Bad” ended its run is going to be markedly different from that of Jesse Pinkman. In “Need For Speed,” Paul plays a car mechanic/driver named Tobey Marshall whose need for revenge sends him on a cross-country adventure.
Director Scott Waugh wanted someone “unexpected” for the role of Tobey, which is why he thought Paul would be perfect for the part. Screenwriters John and George Gatins claim that Hollywood “couldn’t talk about these kind of movies without talking about Aaron” — and of course Steven Spielberg wanted him for the flick.
“We were excited because Aaron even said, ‘I can’t imagine that I was the first thing everybody thought of. He was like, ‘The fact that you guys want to give me this opportunity’ — he’s a very humble guy — and he was really thrilled and enthralled,” John recalls to Zap2it and other reporters to an edit bay visit in October. “You’ll see when you see the movie; he does some amazing driving in the movie.”
George adds, “[Paul] had just emerged in a way that you knew who he was from that show. And there’s not a lot of guys in that age range in Hollywood that you can kind of feel confident about putting a big movie on their shoulders. When Hollywood finds a guy that they think can do it, that’s like gold, because they don’t grow on trees.”
Waugh feels that Paul has the Steve McQueen vibe needed for this kind of a movie. He also says that Paul transitioned from being “Jesse Pinkman” to being “Aaron Paul” in 2013, which helps them market the film.
For Paul, the characters of Jesse and Tobey couldn’t be more different. “They’re such polar opposite people,” he says. “I think that the moment Tobey Marshall comes on screen, they’re not going to see — or hopefully they’re not going to see — Jesse Pinkman. Jesse was I think struggling to find his way throughout the entire show. He never really had his footing ever, and he never, ever caught a break. Tobey is a very strong man. He knows who he is.”
The writers feel the same way. “Vince [Gilligan] did such a great thing in making [Jesse] not what you’d expect from a speed-dealing ne’er do well. It’s like, he actually was this really empathic, emotional, really internal guy,” John says. “In our movie, [Tobey is] kind of a bada**. He’s kind of a guy who has a very firm moral compass. He’s a good guy, he’s incredibly loyal to his friends and he’s ready to die to right a wrong.”
George adds, “You feel like he’s leading this group. He’s in charge.”
Considering Jesse’s final scene in “Breaking Bad” shows him driving away and Tobey is a driver of fast cars, the writers know the jokes people will make about “Need For Speed” following up the AMC drama.
“It was so funny. I was like, ‘Wow, he runs right out of the complex, right down the gate and into the movie,'” John says of watching the finale of “Breaking Bad.” George jokes, “We’re the sequel.”
Paul knows that Tobey isn’t like Jesse Pinkman, and that’s sort of the point. “I lucked out with ‘Breaking Bad.’ It was a very special thing, and who knows if that’s ever going to happen again on television, especially the character of Jesse Pinkman. There was just so much going on there,” he says.
“Need for Speed” is due in theaters on March 14, 2014.