Scott Mescudi, otherwise known by his fans and peers as Kid Cudi, stars in the Scott Waugh-directed action film Need For Speed. Playing as Benny, fellow greasemonkey/pilot and friend to Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul). Benny is no ordinary mechanic. He also doubles as a pilot helping navigate his teammates through a variety of race courses throughout the city. In our roundtable interview with the musician and actor, Mescudi talks about his character, what it was like to actually fly, his memories of the coin-op arcade, and how he is an anarchist. Hit the jump to read the full interview.
Did you do any actual flying in the movie?
The deal was a lot of the scenes we were actually shooting I have control of the aircraft, but I wasn’t doing any maneuvers. I learned how to keep the plane steady, so it looked like i was piloting this aircraft. There was obviously a professional pilot, Rick, that was with me the whole time. I don’t think I could have ever done this movie, if it wasn’t for Rick and Craig, who were the end stunt guys with the aircraft the whole entire time. Their confidence, their just being calm and guiding me, gave me the confidence, and made me less nervous, these guys have been doing this for years, decades, you know. Some of the best stunts we’ve seen in the biggest movies, Craig and Rick had a hand in it. I think Craig was the one who did the shot on the flight as it was going passed the shot diagonally. He really did that for real. It really went sideways. I had very little time to prep, but on the day, it was exciting. A lot of the shots, I learned the basics on how to start the aircraft, how to keep them stable. That’s it. Don’t trust me with your life.
Did your involvement start off with the music first or did you get the role and then jump into making the music?
I didn’t want it to be like that. I went into the room, and that’s how it has been for the past five years. I’ve been going to auditions, like everyone else. It’s a seperate craft for me. Music is one thing, and the acting is another. With every project I’m never thinking: ooh I can do something for the soundtrack. I’m strictly thinking about the role and the character. Occassionally you’ll have the director ask me what I think about the soundtrack, or would I be interested in doing something. Me and Scott started having those conversations within the first couple weeks of shooting. And we didn’t really get into it until the movie was done. Then he gave me the last three minutes of the film, I swore to that, and then made the song around the score. It was more about getting the vibe, the theme, the anthem, for Tobey’s character, and then the lyrics. It came together really quickly. The inspiration was there to have a visual in front of me, it really helped out a lot, because it’s really tough to be a musician for hire. Something that I dabbled in with songwriting, and it was nerve-wracking, and I have a problem with authority. I’m an anarchist. I’m my own boss with music. It’s tough to do these musician for hire jobs. I was a part of the movie, I understood the tone, I understood the characters. Also I knew what Scotty Waugh was looking for, and I knew what the film needed at the end. So it all worked out.
And you realize this puts you in contention for the Oscar for Best Song next year?
I don’t know about that. Shit. We’ll see. I mean it’s all blessings. I’m just humbled to even have the opportunity to act in such a great film, and to do a song.
Did you play the Need for Speed game growing up?
Yeah. Yeah. That was like the first race game I’ve ever played. I think it’s the only game. Need for Speed, and Crash Bandtcoot on my Playstation. I think everybody likes a good racing game, and I think Need for Speed is that. I actually have Crusin’ USA in my crib in Chicago. I went on an ultimate quest to find this. I hired an interior decorator and sent him on this mission. Usually the guy is finding curtains, I was like: nah nah, I need you to find me Crusin’ Exotica, it has to be Crusin Exotica. I made sure he got these games for me, because you know that’s our generation. We used to go to the arcade. Kids now, they don’t need to go anywhere. Play your X-Box, you could be anti-social. It was like an experience to go to the arcade.
Directed by Scott Waugh, Need For Speed also stars Aaron Paul, Imogen Poots, Dominic Cooper, Rami Malek, and more. The film opens in theaters on March 14.