NEED FOR SPEED – Behind the scenes with director Scott Waugh

We go behind the scenes of NEED FOR SPEED

With NEED FOR SPEED, former stuntman Scott Waugh pays tribute to the classic 1970s car chase movie. And his late father, Fred Waugh, the legendary stuntman who worked on many of those classic 1970s car chase movies. Growing up in a world of fast cars and cunning stunts can have a deep effect on a boy. Especially when it’s your father who’s doing most of the dangerous driving.

For Scott Waugh, seeing his father Fred take the wheel again and again on movie and TV sets meant that he really never had a choice – he had to become one of the film industry’s most sought-after stunt drivers too. And so it was that the son followed the father, working on such movies as THE ITALIAN JOB remake, TORQUE, SPEED, MR & MRS SMITH and BIKER BOYZ. Along the winding, weaving, oil-stained road, the younger Waugh also tried his hand at acting (“Important when you want to direct”), editing (“a crucial part of an action movie”), and documentary (“teaches you all about storytelling”). “My dad always supported me, at every stage,” says Waugh. “I think he was proud to see his passion being passed on.” 

It’s a family business, and no mistake, brother Ric Roman also dividing his time between stunt work, writing and directing, having worked on such movies as the original TOTAL RECALL and the GONE IN 60 SECONDS remake. Fred Waugh passed away just before the completion of NEED FOR SPEED, Scott’s roaring road-rage revenge movie with BREAKING BAD’s Aaron Paul driving across America to clear his name. Based on the best-selling EA video game, the expectations are high. Luckily, so are the thrills and spills on screen.

Taking on Electronic Arts biggest-selling franchise – with over 140 million units sold – must have been mildly terrifying. There are hardcore fans out there of the video game; were you sorely aware of what they might want from this movie?
Scott Waugh: I was lucky enough to work closely with EA on making this film, so, I never felt that we could ever stray very far from what made the games so great. It’s a celebration, and it’s a collaboration, so, I was never really worried about that aspect to it, no. I just wanted to bring all my knowledge, experience and passion to this thing.

Given your long history in movie stunt work, it’s almost as though you were born to direct the movie adaptation of a revered racing video game series.
SW: I certainly felt comfortable in this world, yeah. My dad, Fred, was one of the main stunt men of the 1970s, back when there was no CGI, and you ended up with incredible films such as ‘Bullitt’, ‘Vanishing Point’ and ‘Smokey & The Bandit’. I wanted to pay tribute to that kind of movie, and that kind of movie-making. My dad passed away just before this film was completed, and I dedicated it to him. It was really dedicated to him all along, as I still believe that those movies – and I’m including the likes of The French Connection in here too – they were pure, and they were real. That’s what we were aiming for here.

This all began for you when you met up with Steven Spielberg and his DreamWorks CEO Stacey Snider. They were impressed by your feature debut, ACT OF VALOUR (2012), and wanted to work with you…
SW: Yeah, how incredible is that? Steven Spielberg wants to work with you. That moment right there was pretty much enough to make me feel that I’ve won the prize. Whatever about the work involved that came after, or how the film turned out, how it did at the box-office, I felt that, deep down, I had already won, because I was working with Steven Spielberg on a movie. And I’ll be working with him again after this, on a heist movie. My cheeks are beginning to hurt, I’ve been smiling so much ever since that first day.

Thanks largely to BREAKING BAD, Aaron Paul is being dubbed a breakout star. Which, given that he’s leading your big movie, would make you a breakout director, right?
SW: That would be nice, and I think it’s only a matter of time before Aaron is a big, big star, but all I care about right now is that the film breaks out and reaches a lot of people. Because this is how they used to do car chase movies, and I think if people get a taste of the real deal again, they’ll love it. And then, hopefully, they’ll go back and check out my dad and his contemporaries, and films such as BULITT and VANISHING POINT.

NEED FOR SPEED roars onto Irish screens from March 12th

Words: Paul Byrne