No good driver hits the road without a pit crew, and in Need for Speed, Aaron Paul‘s character is backed by Scott Mescudi (aka Kid Cudi), Rami Malek, and Ramon Rodriguez during his cross-country road racing. We got a chance to talk to the boys, and as you can guess, they enjoy playing off each other, which should be apparent in the interview below.
You guys had such a great chemistry all throughout the movie, Aaron (Paul) was saying there wasn’t too much improvisation, but was there improvisation between you guys?
Scott Mescudi: I think they cut some of it out but Rami (Malek) and I developed a lot of banter between us when we were doing ADR. A lot of my shooting was elsewhere, so the director would say to Rami that he’d have to come up with stuff in response to what I said while I was in the chopper, just so it would cut together, so there was a lot of that. But it was tough because most of my scenes were in the air and they were on the ground and doing other scenes, so some of the improv came in the garage.
Ramon Rodriguez: Yeah, when we did the group stuff in the garage there was a lot of stuff that we just got to play with and he (director Scott Waugh) loved it. We’d get the lines out there, and then we’d get playing.
Scott Mescudi: When he was flying, “where were you?” That whole thing was improv. They were like “we’re just going to bust your balls, so keep playing with that.”
Rami Malek: Then that became something we all did with each other.
Ramon Rodriguez: Dominic (Cooper) is very lucky, because we threw a lot of shots at him that didn’t make the cut, especially because he’s the villain and we’re not supposed to like him anyway. We had jokes about his heels, his turtleneck,
Scott Mescudi: He came up to us afterwards asking “what did you say about my turtleneck?” he was so pissed.
It sounds like you hung out while shooting. When did you first meet?
Scott Mescudi: At dinner. But I think the first day on set it really came together When we first had dinner it was just an initial meet and greet, and I was little nervous to meet Ramon and Aaron (Paul). I met Aaron once prior briefly prior to dinner, I had just booked the job and I saw him at a Golden Globes afterparty, and I approached him, I was like “dude, I’m so excited I got the movie,” and we did the initial “what up,” but I think it was the first day on set.
Ramon Rodriguez: I think it was the first night in hotel.
Scott Mescudi: When we walked around downtown Atlanta drunk.
Ramon Rodriguez: That’s when the bonding solidified. Rami and I spent a lot of time together because we were in the Beast.
Rami Malek: We had the same schedule, so days off we’d be like “what are you doing, what are you doing?” We ended up going out on excursions, we flew out to Puerto Rico where he’s got family.
Ramon Rodriguez: We had a serious bromance.
Scott Mescudi: I’m still bitter I wasn’t invited.
Rami Malek: We went recently to Puerto Rico.
Ramon Rodriguez: That’s the cool thing that happens.
Scott Mescudi: I’m bitter I wasn’t invited to that one either.
Rami Malek: But we’ll all go to Coachella together, right?
Scott Mescudi: I don’t know if I want you guys there. I don’t know if I want to be seen with you.
Ramon Rodriguez: We’re going anyway.
Rami, which of your stunts was more challenging? Getting on top of the Beast while it’s speeding or stripping down?
Rami Malek: Getting on top of the car, I think.
Ramon Rodriguez: I can tell you which one he prepared for more.
Rami Malek: It’s true. That’s another thing, when you get really close to someone, when you become friends I don’t know if that makes it easier or more difficult to be naked in front of someone like that. But I really enjoyed both of them. There’s something about being able to run around free and throw away all of those inhibitions you might have and have an environment where people are expecting it but at the same time surprised by it. It was refreshing, and so was the car stunt, it was something I didn’t know I was capable of doing, but in the moment I was like “let’s rock and roll.” And I never felt any fear doing it, only after it, watching it, I thought “I’m an idiot.” But it was fun every time because of the team we had behind us, Scott Waugh and Lance Gilbert, who was our stunt coordinator, they never put you in harm’s way, so I knew I was good in both situations.
How many safety precautions did you have to go through for that car stunt? Because I didn’t think you’d eat it, but I was scared at the thought of climbing up on the top of a speeding car.
Rami Malek: They had me harnessed to about three points in the back of the truck, and they had about two stunt guys in the back of the Beast while Ramon was driving, and I’ve got to trust that Ramon’s going to drive in a straight line, and he kept slamming on the brakes every once in a while. They had the carabiner locked in inches away, and I asked “is that really going to make a difference” and they were like “oh yeah” so the precautions they took were unprecedented.
Before the movie were you car guys?
Scott Mescudi: Oh yeah. I have a Mecedes SLS, I just bought a Porsche Carrera 911 Turbo 4S, I have a 1969 Mercedes Cabriolet.
Rami Malek: I want to ride in that.
Scott Mescudi: You can, you can. And a range rover.
Ramon Rodriguez: I just bought the new Hot Wheels box set.
Scott Mescudi: I’ve been thinking about getting that new Stingray, that new Corvette Stingray.
Ramon Rodriguez: Yea, I think it would be nice if you got that for me.
Rami Malek: Did you see all the older ones that fell into that sinkhole? How sad was that?
Scott Mescudi: Not too sad, nobody was driving ‘em.
Rami Malek: I’m a public transportation guy myself.
Scott Mescudi: Bus bus bus bus!
Rami Malek: I like to ride a bike.
Ramon, I’m curious, it’s been about five years now, but were you ever nervous you’d be known as Omar’s lover from The Wire? Because that show has obviously made a huge dent in pop culture.
Ramon Rodriguez: Wow. That’s a good question. I remember the first day I was shooting, and I went into Michael (K. Williams)’s trailer and he’s from Brooklyn, and I said “Michael, when you go back to Brooklyn, how are you received, what happens, what’s been the feedback on the show in your community?” He said “Listen, Ramon, everywhere I’ve gone I’ve got nothing but respect.” People, they love his character, and my first day on that show was me being naked next to him in bed. And I’ll never forget that because it was like (snaps finger) “Here, we’re going to jump right into it.” And I felt the same thing, when I went back to New York it was an amazing embrace, it’s just been love, so much love for the show. People love the show, it’s got a huge following, and people love that character so much I’m lucky to have been a part of it and work alongside him.
Scott Mescudi: Can I just say something? For me, I remember Ramon as the nervous dude in Transformers 2, sh—ing his pants in the car, that movie, that performance from Ramon, also I saw him in Battle: Los Angeles, but when I think of Ramon, I think of Transformers, and by the way I wanted to tell you I think you did a phenomenal job. I’ve never seen you take it there since, but that was a very specific role, and you f—ng nailed it.
Ramon Rodriguez: Thank you buddy.
How would you compare working with Michael Bay to Scott Waugh?
Ramon Rodriguez: They’re two different styles and people and testosterone. Scott, what’s great about him is he’s a guy’s guy, but he’s there for you, he cares about his actors a lot. He really wants to get the best performances out of them. Bay does as well, but he’s really about the action. He’s really focusing on the next big thing he’s going to blow up and that his main priority. But they’re both high adrenaline guys, and they’re both fast paced guys, it’s just that one explodes a lot more. The amount of explosions I was around with Michael Bay, I don’t need to be around another explosion. I’ve seen and been very close to some near death experiences and I’m cool. Scott was always super safe, they’re just two totally different sort of experiences, but what’s similar is the adrenaline, when they walk on set they’ve got to get the day.
Rami Malek: Scott always made time for us and not just on set. There were countless times where he’d be like “what are we doing this weekend?” and he’d set up dinners, and there was a place in Atlanta where there a multitude of games we could play like lawn bowling and play pool, and it would turn into a dance party.
Ramon Rodriguez: He’s a lot more accessible, that’s the difference. Scott’s extremely accessible.
Rami, I talked to you when Breaking Dawn and The Master came out, I’m curious, having gone through one ensemble movie that’s really big and doing something like The Master, which is so specific and it seems like something that’s very demanding, what does that teach you when you come back to something like this that’s maybe a little broader that might be a little more populist in design?
Rami Malek: To enjoy myself. To try and stay in the moment and enjoy what’s happening, enjoy the camaraderie. I’m fortunate to be in a movie like this because every day is likely to be a very fun adventure, and to be around cool people and not to stress out. Being on The Master can stress you out a little bit, being around that top tier of talent makes you wonder if you’re worthy enough. Being around these guys, who are not on that level… just kidding, who are more accessible, it can even bring out better performances out of you because you’re not scared sh–less. You know what I mean guys.
Ramon Rodriguez: We love you, bro.
Need for Speed Opens March 14