Imogen Poots (Fright Night, That Awkward Moment) has starred in a number of films but none of them could amount to the action packed thrill ride that is Need For Speed. In the film Poots plays Julia Bond, a savvy car dealer who connects the wealthy with rare and exotic cars. We had a chance to talk to the actress at a roundtable during the film’s press day. There she talked about being playing a sophisticated woman in a mostly testosterone movie, some of the stunt work she has done, failing her driver’s ed test, and more. Hit the jump to read what she said.
What was it like to be the female presence in a testosterone movie, and getting to drive all the cars?
Imogen Poots: It certainly felt like that, I am not going to lie. You sorta got to keep your head down and get on with it in that environment. But it was cool, and driving the car was fun. I don’t drive in real life, so driving a car full stock was closer to being a grown up. But yeah it was a cool experience. The people who are going to see this film love cars, and I am not going to lie, it is something that is slightly foreign to me. I probably should have been more excited about having the latest mustang. But I was like: this is some kind of wheel.
So you don’t drive out of fear; out of choice; out of police taking your license away?
Oh for being a completely inept human being at life. I mean I’ve lived in California for two years. Don’t know how I’ve managed to navigate my way around. So I took my test for the first time – I’m actually moving to New York – So I was like, I’m moving to New York, therefore I’m taking my driver’s test in California, which I failed to prove the point.
You’re not going to need it in New York anyway.
I know. It was kind of those “quit while you are ahead.” But actually, you just didn’t do it.
Did the director (Scott Waugh) know that you didn’t have a driver’s liscence, did you ever tell them?
You know, it never really came up. Which, I guess I’m thinking the insurance and yeah. Yeah, we’ve never really spoken about it, and I think in general I was just doing my own thing with the driving.
What was it like working with Aaron, what was the dynamic like?
The dynamic was the same before, because we had just done a film together in London [referring to The Long Way Down], a couple months ago, and it was actually Aaron who asked if I would be interested in this sort of a film. The trepidation I felt about this sort of a film was put at ease by the fact that we would be in it together. I mean you are in a car and in a claustrophobic place, and it would be sort of awful not to like the person you are with, so it was a good thing.
You mentioned claustrophobic, are you afraid of heights like you are in the film?
I am. But that wasn’t actually that high, so I’m like what ever, she’s (her character) a pussy. I certainly would feel uneasy if I had to jump off something like that. Actually that’s funny, because even though what I call a stunt, even though my friends working in action films and stunts are incredible, mine was I am going to fall on my back off a building, it was really hard. Because it’s not natural, and it’s interesting you have to be coached to a certain degree for that trust.
Compared to all the other movies you’ve made, the indie’s and period pieces, does this raise new fears as an actor or do you look at it from the perspective of the character.
I would say you would hope the work ethic would be the same whatever, film set or tv set your turning up to. I think with this there was certainly an awareness of the type of film it was, and actually more so that that the subject matter. Because this type of film, because it is a “studio” film, it can be anything you want it to be, and you can attempt to want it to make an aspect of it your own. But I think the subject matter of this was cars, full stop cars, that was something where I was like – meh, am I crazy about the idea. And knowing Aaron and I were going to be in it together, and understanding the type of time we could have on it, that was kind of the appeal. But it ceartainly was a whole different situation in a sense of, there is certainly more people, so there’s more money, there’s more days. so that certainly makes a difference. But yeah, it’s certainly different than running around the streets of New York and doing it kind of guerrilla style, cause you can sort of run with it literally.
Did you want to do more stunt work after working on this? Did you catch an action movie bug?
Well, you know i’ve watched these guys do it, and to be honest walking into the project I felt a little like “stunts”, “crumunch”, I didn’t understand how incredible these guys are at their jobs. I mean it is really like a dance. I think I had this presumption that it was going to be like stunts require muscle and strength, but actually you have to be so deft with your moves and accurate, otherwise everything fucks up. So these guys together, watching them practice and watching them – there was one shot where the car had drive so quick and go over some traffic, and that was the moment where we wre all there standing there and watching it and it was like: something could go horribly wrong. And watching the stunt guys – it was a very emotional moment, because “we’re doing this for the film, and it’s going to be awesome, and everyone else would use CGI for it, but no we are going to do this the authentic way. And that was certainly so much more than what I had considered stunt work to be. It’s a real art.
What has been the experience like watching the final product?
It has been so quick seeing it after, because normally you see it 15 years later and you’re like: Oh yeah. But seeing it soon after too, it is so fresh in my mind, and you don’t know how this sort of a film is going to be put together, you do your work, you leave it there, and as much as I trust the director and Aaron, you don’t know this thing is going to be put together, so I was pleasantly surprised with the film, and it has been interesting seeing what everyone else has been doing with the film. And it’s fast, it seems like you are in that car forever, and you kind of are for months on end, and then suddenly oh that’s just one shot. But I think the landscape is pretty amazing. Filming in Moab, Utah, and other parts of America is pretty extraordinary. So I liked seeing that in the movie.
What was Scott like as a director?
He was really cool because I think he understood my reservations or concerns, and he was every available and assessable to me personally I think. Cause when everyone else said hi to each other it was like [using her most masculine voice while high fiving herself] “Hey!” “Hey!” Whoa is someone getting hit? No, it’s just men saying hi. And I think he’s like I will take a moment and give her a hug. He was very hands on in that way, and came from a background of stunt work production. But really really wanted to find the heart within the story, and very mindful of that. And I like him a lot, he really cares about human beings. It’s a lovely thing.