The Breakout Stars of "Need for Speed" Race to Fame


DreamWorks Pictures’ “Need for Speed” (opening in the Philippines on March 12) boasts a cast of talented actors who are quickly becoming Hollywood’s next generation of stars: Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Imogen Poots, Scott Mescudi and Dakota Johnson.

“Need for Speed” marks an exciting return to the great car culture films of the 1960s and ’70s, when the authenticity of the world brought a new level of intensity to the action on-screen. Tapping into what makes the American myth of the open road so appealing, the story chronicles a near-impossible cross-country journey for our heroes — one that begins as a mission for revenge, but proves to be one of redemption.


With his acclaimed Emmy Award®-winning performance as Jesse Pinkman on AMC’s hit drama “Breaking Bad,” Aaron Paul has gained a well-deserved reputation for his striking acting skills. Paul’s character, Tobey Marshall, is a blue-collar worker with a passion for racing cars and a vocation for rebuilding them. He runs his family’s auto shop and races the underground street circuit with his friends. His whole world is turned upside down when he is sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit. In prison, he spends two years thinking about one thing: vengeance. While questioning the morals to which he has always adhered, he is determined to clear his name and set things right.


Tobey's nemesis is Dino, played by Dominic Cooper (“Captain America: The First Avenger”). Dino is a character who is extremely competitive and does something extraordinarily detestable to Tobey in order to benefit himself. He comes from a very privileged background and was a Formula One driver. He's obsessed with money and success.

Acknowledging that he’s been infatuated with cars since he was a young boy, Cooper says that while other kids his age were outside riding their bikes, he was in his room polishing models of Ferraris. “It was very bleak,” the actor laughs. “With this role as Dino, I’ve traveled a long way from models of super cars to actually driving super cars.”

Imogen Poots (“Fright Night”) was cast to play the surprisingly resourceful car broker Julia Maddon, who goes along on the cross-country journey with Tobey. Poots recognizes that “Need for Speed” is very unique in its genre and style. “This film is very gripping. The idea of cars, truck stops, the places and landscapes we go through, it’s all so vast and diverse. The whole challenge of the film is how fast Tobey and my character can get across the land. And that's been really enjoyable for me. Seeing some of these sights has been quite extraordinary. In terms of sports cars, people go crazy for them, and that's terrific,” Poots narrates.


For the role of Benny, a car detailer at Tobey’s auto shop, who is also a helicopter pilot in the Army reserves and lends his aviation skills to help Tobey and Julia at particularly perilous moments, Scott Mescudi auditioned and landed the part. Mescudi, who achieved worldwide success as a rap artist, read for the director who was impressed with his acting skills but had no idea that he was a famed rapper.

“I felt so embarrassed,” shares director Scott Waugh. “But it was great because I honestly cast him for his talent. It was Scott Mescudi the guy who’s really charismatic on screen. And I think he's tremendous in the movie. He's going to have a very huge acting career.”

Scott Waugh was looking for someone special for the role of Anita and he found her in Dakota Johnson. The daughter of Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson, she is one of the hottest stars in Hollywood, having taken on the coveted role of Anastasia Steele in “50 Shades of Grey.” Anita is the girl Tobey let get away. The sister of his best friend Pete, Anita and Tobey have a long history, but he lost her to the big city and Dino Brewster.


Johnson says that working with Aaron Paul and Dominic Cooper was a very fulfilling experience. “Aaron is so gifted and so accessible. Dominic is the same. It’s so nice to work with actors who accept what you’re giving them and they give it back to you. It’s so much fun to watch them work.”

While “Need for Speed” is revving up to give audiences around the world one of the most exciting action film experiences of the year, it is also further establishing the already stellar careers of Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Imogen Poots, Scott Mescudi and Dakota Johnson. As director Scott Waugh concludes, “In the beginning we said, ‘The cars are the stars.’ We didn't realize we were going to get such a great cast.”

“Need for Speed” is distributed in the Philippines by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International.
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