Need for Speed — Dreamworks’ stunt-heavy paean to fast cars and fiercely loyal bros (and a few ladies who love them), loosely based on the popular street-racing video game franchise and hitting theaters on March 14 — came very close to not being Aaron Paul’s post-Breaking Bad vehicle.
“I was hesitant to even read a script called Need for Speed. I had my own preconceived notions about it, but when I started looking at the pages, all of those went away,” Paul explained to Entertainment Weekly exclusively just after arriving to the Thursday premiere of the film at the TCL Chinese Theater in an overheating muscle car. “I was so shocked and surprised that this film had such a good human story behind it and I could relate to these guys.”
It also didn’t hurt that Paul, Dominic Cooper, Imogen Potts, and the rest of the N.F.S. pit crew got to take a road trip in some very sweet rides, including Bugattis, Lamborghinis, GTA Spanos, Koenigseggs, and a brand-new 2015 Ford Mustang GT. “I loved that it gave me the opportunity to drive around this beautiful country of ours. We shot in seven different states, so it was like a mini-vacation taken in some very cool cars.”
Considering this is probably not even close to how most of our readers usually roll, EW was more interested in asking the cast, the director, and a few famous screening guests about the not-so-fast-or-furious cars of their past. Below, they recall, often surprisingly fondly, their worst beaters, clunkers, and lemons.
Aaron Paul: “My worst car was probably my first car, but I loved it so much. It was an ’82 Toyota Corolla, faded gold, paint chipping away. Any time it rained, the trunk would fill up with water. I had to skip from first to third gear because second gear would grind. But I didn’t really come from much, so the fact that my parents bought that for me at 16 was so huge and I loved it. Any time I see an ’82 Corolla driving down the street, it brings such incredible fond memories. It was the worst and best car.”
Dominic Cooper: “I’ve got so many to give you. I once had a Renault with the engine put in the wrong way, so it had four really quick reverse gears and one forward gear. I had an Austin-Healey Sprite that had no lights and a hole in the fuel tank, so you could only put $5 worth of fuel in it at a time, otherwise it would fall out. That was quite a bad car. Then [for] another car I drove to France, which was also a Renault, I had to hold a water can and squeeze it to pump water into the radiator. Things are better now on the car front.”
Imogen Poots: “Well, sadly, I’ve never personally had a car. But my friend Max, who is a photographer, has a car that doesn’t have a floor. So if you are sitting in that seat you gotta stay in that seat. Your feet are just floating off into the ether.”
Ramon Rodriguez: “I had a janky car that was a death trap. It was a Toyota Camry. The seatbelts didn’t work. It was a hotbox because the AC didn’t work. The brakes were all out of whack. I’m lucky I’m still here, but it made me appreciate the following cars I owned that actually worked and functioned and that had windows that came down.”
Scott Mescudi (a.k.a. Kid Cudi): “A ’92 Nissan Stanza. It wasn’t awesome. My first car was a bigger piece of crap than that, but I adored it more because it was my first car. So it was my piece of crap so I loved it. By your second or third piece of crap car, you’re like, ‘Whatever.’ But you never forget your first. First love, all day, every day.”
Director Scott Waugh: “My first car was a Honda Civic. It wasn’t great to look at or luxurious, but Hondas can’t die. You can drive them for like 300,000 miles and they still keep going. That’s impressive.”
Matt Lanter (Star-Crossed): “I had a lot of interim cars when I was 16, 17. I had a 1983 gray rusting Ford Escort. The air didn’t work but the heat worked great even when you didn’t want it to.”
Tony Hawk: “That is hard to say. To be honest, my worst was probably also my favorite because it was my first car. But it was the worst in terms of maintenance. It was a 1977 Civic. When I bought it, it already had about 150,000 miles on it. It was rusty. The clutch would slip, but it taught me a lot. It taught me how to fix cars.”