Imogen Poots first cropped up in the horror sequel 28 Weeks Later. She has since appeared in other genre fare, including Centurion and the Fright Night remake, as well as Comes a Bright Day and a respectable version of Jane Eyre. She dons the racing goggles for her newest film, a movie version of the Need for Speed video game franchise. She sat down to discuss her role during the recent press day for the film.
Question: So what’s the best part about driving a car fast?
Imogen Poots: I didn’t get to do much of the actual race car driving in the film. Aaron Paul did a lot more than I did – probably because I don’t have a driver’s license, so there were reservations on all fronts of the hazard of me behind the wheel.
Q: Has this inspired you to get a driver’s license?
IP: I tried. I tried. I’ve lived in California for two years and haven’t ever got my license. I don’t know how that’s happened. I went to take my test, and I didn’t make it out of the parking lot. I couldn’t find the honker. I mean that’s when you know you just shouldn’t be behind the wheel.
Q: Most of the American movies have asked you to do an accent. Was it nice to get to use your real voice?
IP: It was fun. I remember them saying, “Oh, we’d really like her to be British, because you know it’s so exotic.” And I was like, “Really? Well, tell that to someone in west London, because we don’t think that.” To me, an American accent is fairly exotic. It was a nice change for sure, but I really love doing accents too. I think the more and more you do them and you understand them, I think they can really benefit the choices you make for the character. You don’t want Julia to be this stereotypical racer girl, you know.
Q: There are some shots in the scene where you’re refueling where it looks like it’s really tight. How fast did that get?
IP: That was totally authentic. The day previous we did some practice, so you start at kind of 10 miles an hour, 20 miles an hour and sort of lean out the window. You’re trying to get your butt out and shift it all around, and you’re strapped in with rope around your ankle with a great stuntman just inside the car holding onto your leg. Then on the day of the shoot, we got it up to kind of 65 or 70 miles an hour. I actually really enjoyed it once we got going, you know. You just don’t want to mess up, because then you’ve got to go straight back to the start again.
Q: What did you learn about yourself in the experience of making this film? Because this is a totally new kind of filmmaking for you.
IP: I think you learn things that you’re not crazy about just as much as you learn more about the things that you love, so I look at it as an experience. I got to spend time with Aaron – he’s one of my favorite people and one of my favorite actors – and we got to do this crazy film together. I got to see so much of America. Moab was extraordinary. I was blown away. I didn’t come away any more in love with cars, you know, which I think is okay and I understand why people love the things they do. Some people would just go crazy for that stuff. The mechanics of it, it’s pretty intricate and interesting, but I’d still be happy just watching the criteria on movies rather than like learning more about Mustangs or what have you.
Q: What was the toughest thing you had to do?
IP: The Thelma and Louise scene where we go over the edge of the canyon. We were hanging in the air and it was pretty claustrophobic and you had to stay strapped into the chair for hours and hours. Yeah, that was pretty rough.
[Throws hands in the air in mock horror.]
Oh no! Actress problems!