On Wednesday, a lucky group of movie lovers and car enthusiasts got an early look at DreamWorks’ “Need for Speed’’ at the Loews Theater on the Boston Common and were treated to a live appearance from the film’s star, Aaron Paul.
The film, based on the bestselling video game, is also a tribute to old school “car-culture’’ movies of the 1960s and ’70s and features Paul behind the wheel of a souped-up Ford Mustang, which was designed specifically for the movie.
After the screening, the former “Breaking Bad’’ star spoke with the audience and admitted that the cars are the real co-stars and that he’s a big fan of the classic wheels. He owns a 1965 Shelby himself.
“The real challenge was driving the car,’’ said Paul. Director Scott Waugh wanted the real deal, so Paul had to practice driving the Mustang around a closed track. He bragged that his personal best speed was 120 miles per hour.
“Maybe as high as 131,’’ said Paul.
That practice really paid off for Paul, who at one point was asked by Waugh to drive at a very high speed directly at the camera while the director was behind it. Reluctantly, Paul agreed and was able to get the Mustang to stop just 2 inches shy of the camera and the director.
While the Ford Mustang is a scene-stealer, the driving in the movie is also a big star. During the talk with the audience, Paul pointed out that no CGI effects were used in the movie. Every scene where a car tears around a corner or soars in the air was performed by human beings without the help of computer effects.
The movie pays tribute to a few other films that prominently featured cars in a starring role, including “Thelma & Louise,’’ “Vanishing Point,’’ and “Bullitt’’ (another classic film to co-star a Mustang).
“I was a big fan of Steve McQueen,’’ Paul told the audience. “He was such a bad-ass.’’
Let’s not forget that the movie is based on a video game. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that several European supercars, including a Lamborghini Sesto Elemento, a Buggatti Veyron, a McLaren P1, and a GTA Spano, show up in supporting roles. But Paul says while these cars are great, his favorite was a 1969 Gran Torino, which he also drives in the movie.
Besides a host of cool cars, dangerous driving, and movie mayhem, there is another reason for car buffs to see “Need for Speed.’’ The film marks the big-screen debut of the 2015 Ford Mustang, which turns 50 this year. Ford says the iconic Mustang has collected about 3,000 film and TV credits in its lifetime, dating back to its debut in the 1964 James Bond film “Goldfinger.’’