Imogen Poots made an impression in her first acting gig, the horror film 28 Days Later. Since then, the Brit has appeared in Centurion, the remake of Fright Night and That Awkward Moment. Poots is currently on the big screen opposite Aaron Paul (of Breaking Bad fame) in the DreamWorks Pictures adaptation of Electronic Arts’ Need for Speed.
It turns out Poots is really acting when she gets behind the wheel in the movie. In real life, she doesn’t even have a driver’s license. The actress talks about her lack of any need for speed in this exclusive interview.
Gamecrate: Were you aware of the Electronic Arts Need for Speed video games?
Poots: I wasn’t aware of the game so much, but to be honest I didn’t grow up with computer games. My brother and I never had them, so it’s kind of a foreign thing to me. But I think it’s great that the games have that kind of following.
What’s the best part about driving a car fast?
I didn’t get to do much of the actual race car driving in the film. Aaron did a lot more than I did, probably because I don’t have a driver’s license. There were reservations from all fronts of the hazard of me behind the wheel. But it’s a pretty crazy sensation to be going that fast. It’s pretty wild. It’s fun.
Besides the custom Ford, did you get into any of the other exotic vehicles?
At the beginning of the shoot the stunt coordinators took us out and around in this Lamborghini and showed us how the pods were going to work and all that stuff. Aaron certainly does the majority of the driving in the film, but it was important to do a little bit of groundwork.
What was it like being upside down in the car?
You can’t be prepared for something like that. I’m completely ill-prepared by eating so much food every time before we’re going to go upside down. It’s not recommended. They tell us no food.
What was it like climbing out of a moving car?
It was kind of terrific. We were moving at about 65 miles an hour, which is pretty fast. We started the rehearsal doing 10, 20, 30 miles an hour and did it like that. We were doing that in Georgia and you’re harnessed into the car. When you lean out the window, I had to like pop the gas cap open and feed in some fuel. The camera crew was following Rami Malek in the other vehicle and he was handing down the nozzle. I actually really enjoyed it once we got going you know. You just don’t want to mess up because then you got to go straight back to the start again.That was amazing. It was really fun and it’s exhilarating. Once you do that a couple of times, you really get into it.
Did you do any other daredevil things?
That’s certainly daredevil. No. I really don’t do that often, but that was really terrific. I had a great time. As a result of Need for Speed, I definitely do feel I’ve experienced some interesting things. The stunt guys are hilarious. They’re actually very gentle guys and it’s a very family-oriented business. They’re kind of tough on the outside but on the inside they’re all gentle guys.
What was this experience of filming across the country like for you?
I got to see so much of America. Moab was extraordinary. I was blown away. I felt so insignificant as a tiny human. It was like I was on Mars. This was a great opportunity to see America in that way and spend time with good people.
Do you like cars now after this movie?
I didn’t come away any more in love with cars, which I think is okay. I understand why people love the things they do. Some people just go crazy for that stuff. When you break down what goes into a car, the mechanics of it, it’s pretty intricate and interesting. But I’d still be happy just watching Criterion movies, rather than like learning more about Mustangs or what have you.
Did you learn a lot about cars on the set?
I learned how much people love them and how much they are willing to get crazy about cars. If that’s what you’re into, that’s terrific. But I really didn’t know anything about the cars we worked with like the latest breed of Mustang or what have you. It was interesting just to understand it from that point-of-view. It’s always great to learn something.
Has this inspired you to get a driver’s license?
I tried. I’ve lived in California for two years and haven’t ever gotten my license. I don’t know how that’s happened. I’m going to try to be a real human being from now on, but I went to take my test and I didn’t make it out of the parking lot. I couldn’t find the honker on the car. That’s when you know you just shouldn’t be behind the wheel for right now. It’s such a strange question too. I was ready to do some normal driving, and he’s like, “Where’s the horn?” And I was like, “I don’t know.” So not a great start.
Was it not in the center?
Well, the airbag is also there so I was like shoot, I’ve got the Need for Speed press thing next week and if I press the air bag and I get decapitated then it could be game over.
Will you try again?
I do think I was just really bad, but I think I’ve got two more tries before my permit runs out. I feel like if I fail twice more I just shouldn’t do it.