Editor’s note: Every week, HLN brings you the "My First Time" series, which explores the first time your favorite celebrities did something significant or memorable (so get your mind out of the gutter!).
In this installment, actor Aaron Paul – who you might know as Jesse Pinkman from “Breaking Bad” -- and director Scott Waugh -- who’s had a hand in films like “Act of Valor,” “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” and “The Italian Job” -- chat about driving and crashing some very fast and very rare cars in the film “Need for Speed,” in theaters March 14.
HLN: What was the first car you drove?
Scott Waugh: I started driving my father’s Honda Prelude at 12.
Aaron Paul: Nice!
Waugh: Sliding the car to pick up the mail. That’s what I did.
Paul: The first car I owned was an ’82 Toyota Corolla. It was awesome. Anytime it rained, the trunk would fill up with water… it was great!
HLN: Are you an adrenaline junkie? What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
Paul: I’ve jumped off numerous bridges -- into water. It helps when you’re jumping into liquid rather than concrete.
HLN: What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done? Was it a stunt on this movie?
Paul: No, actually all the stunts on this film were just fun. I think my wife was a little nervous. There were scenes where her heart started racing a little bit.
Waugh: You were scared when I asked you to slide up to me. You were nervous!
Paul: Yeah, there was a particular scene where you said, “I need you to come flying at the camera. I’ll be holding the camera, but you need to go about 70-75 miles an hour, so you can slide and then land inches away from the camera.”
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HLN: Did you do any training before you could pull that stunt off in the film?
Paul: No, they said, "Good luck!"
Waugh: No, he grew up like that.
Paul: No, most of my training was at a track called Willow Springs, outside of Los Angeles.
HLN: Do you ever apply what you learned on a track in everyday-driving?
Paul: Well, you know, a lot of the training was to learn how to get out of problematic situations. That was the first three days of training: If something goes wrong, this is how you get out of it. So I suggest everyone take that.
HLN: Can you give us an example?
Paul: I haven’t been in a problematic situation yet! But if I do get in a problematic situation, I’m prepared.
HLN: Did you get to drive any of the cars showcased in the film? If so, which one is your favorite?
Paul: Yeah, I drove a lot. I drove a ’68 Gran Torino, a brand new Ford Mustang and a Koenigsegg. My favorite car to drive…
Waugh: Our favorite…
Paul: Our favorite car in the film is the Gran Torino.
Waugh: And we’re still fighting over it.
Paul: There were two, and -- in my mind -- we were going to both get one, but they accidentally totaled one.
Waugh: One of the stunt players -- we wouldn’t say his name, but Troy Gilbert -- wrecked his version of it.
Paul: He wrecked a lot of cars in this film…
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HLN: Speaking of wrecks: You didn’t use any computer graphics in the film. How did you wreck all those one-of-a-kind cars?
Waugh: There’s a lot of planning that goes on. We need to build the car properly, with special roll cages, and outfit it with cannons that help the car turn over. So months of preparation go into doing an actual flip in a car professionally and keeping the stunt players safe.
HLN: So you crashed the actual cars? Some of them are extremely rare.
Waugh: Yeah, the Lamborghini Elemento, there are only three [in the world]! Those cars aren’t made to flip, so when it came to wrecking the cars, we built kit cars that had proper roll cages, etc. We weren’t really in the business of wrecking art pieces: There’s only three in the world and now there’s two.
Paul: We’re not going to destroy them. And the kit cars were unbelievable.
Waugh: They were full race cars.
HLN: That must have gotten pretty expensive to build kit cars for every model in the film…
Paul: Yeah, it was $350,000 just to make the kit cars and then that’s what they destroyed. It was so sad. It was devastating!
HLN: What kind of message did you want to send the audience about the dangers of street racing?
Waugh: Illegal street racing is extremely dangerous and we showcase that in the movie really well and show that things happen to people who are doing it. Racing has a time and a place. I’ve done it professionally my whole life and I’ve always done it in an environment where it's supposed to be.
Paul: Because we shot all over the country, I learned on this film that there are tracks everywhere and you can go have a track day: Take your car out or rent a car and go really as fast as you want on a closed-off course. That’s what we recommend.
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HLN: Aaron, after the Emmys, you were dubbed the most romantic husband in the world. Do you see yourself that way? Are you a hopeless romantic?
Paul: I don’t know if I’m the most romantic husband on the planet, but [Lauren, my wife] might think that. Who doesn’t want to be romantic, right? It’s all about romance. I don’t know if I’m hopeless…
Waugh: He has a wonderful wife, he isn’t hopeless.
Paul: I think romance is key. I know she enjoys it, but I also enjoy it.
HLN: You travel a lot. Do you guys talk on the phone or text while you’re apart?
Paul: We talk a lot. All the time.
HLN: What’s the latest sweet thing you’ve done for Lauren?
Paul: I got her a giant teddy bear for Valentine’s Day.
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HLN: Was she surprised?
Waugh: She was probably more surprised she had to fly it home.
Paul: That’s the thing -- I wanted her to just have to carry it with her everywhere she goes!
Waugh: It’s only 8 feet, right? It’ll be fine.
Paul: Yeah, it’s giant! It’s so ridiculous; I think we’ll probably end up leaving it behind.