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“I’m trying to steer away from ‘yeah, bitch!’”

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Aaron Paul on cars, pub crawls and the future of Jesse Pinkman.

The cars in Need For Speed are pretty spectacular – was your own first car a bit of a banger?

It was a 1982 Toyota Corolla, faded gold colour, a manual. You had to skip from first to third gear because second simply would not work, and any time it rained the trunk filled up with water. But I loved her, so much. I got it when I was 15 years old and it got me from point A to point B.

How does the one you have now compare?

It’s quite different, although it doesn’t have a top, so if it did rain it would probably fill up with water. It’s a ’65 Shelby Cobra. That’s my weekend car if I go up the coast.

After being on a TV drama for so long, how did it feel doing an action film?

I’ve gotta be honest with you, I was very hesitant to even read the script for Need For Speed. I instantly thought it was going to be something that it ended up not being. But it was a blast.

The film is unapologetic in its pursuit of the Fast And Furious crowd. How do they compare?

That’s instantly what I thought of when I saw this script on my desk, but in no way did The Fast And The Furious start this genre, nor will they end it. This is more of a throwback to the films I believe really started the genre of car movies, such as Bullitt, Vanishing Point and Smokey And The Bandit. Back then they couldn’t rely on CGI, so our director wanted to do that, because he was a second-generation stuntman. So everything you see in this film was actually caught on camera, there is no CGI or green screen.

It’s not Need For Speed you’re best known for, of course – your finest work, a fantastic piece of acting, was… appearing on The Price Is Right in 2000.

[Laughs] That was actually, I think, one of my favourite characters I’ve played. It was after six or seven cans of Red Bull, and I knew they needed someone with a lot of energy. I had a CBS bumper sticker on my back, [host] Bob Barker postcards on my knees, and they picked me. But all I won was a desk.

And very nearly a car…

I nearly won two cars ! I’m still kind of affected by it.

Didn’t you recently teach a fan how to get on the show?

Yes! I told him my method and he got picked. It was this guy who I saw in Los Angeles twice in three days. He said that he was going on The Price Is Right and asked me if I had any tips. I told him exactly what to do and he ended up winning.

Everyone’s excited for Breaking Bad spin-off Better Call Saul. Has Vince Gilligan told you much about it?

All I know is the show got instantly picked up for 24 episodes on the air. They didn’t have to do a pilot, it was straight into the writers’ room. Everything Vince touches is pure genius. I’m very excited about it and we’ve definitely toyed around with the idea of having Jesse Pinkman make a little cameo or two.

Last time you told us fans yell “Yeah, bitch!” at you daily. Do you make sure any “bitches” are edited out of every script now?

Making sure there are no ‘bitches’! [Laughs] I feel like if I said that word in any projects in the near future it would just get a huge laugh, so I’m trying to steer away from it. It’s so funny what Jesse Pinkman did to that word.

Anthony Hopkins said Breaking Bad was one of the best things he’d ever seen. Have you heard from any other unlikely fans?

You know, it’s incredible – last night in Paris we were walking by this big group of people and it ended up being Drake’s entourage. They invited my wife and me to his show, and then for drinks around the corner. He sees me, comes and gives me this huge hug and starts talking to me about how Rihanna was obsessed with the show and introduced him to it. He said it was the greatest thing he’s ever seen. It’s become a phenomenon, especially in the industry. People I’ve been a huge fan of my entire life have ended up knowing my work and being a fan of mine as well. It’s a crazy thing.

You’re a fan of Jake Bugg, too. We heard he’d played at your house…

My wife and I do an acoustic concert series at the house. It’s so cool, all candle-lit, people on the floor and the musicians perform in front of the fire. I love the kid, he’s such an incredible musician and singer-songwriter. I love how passionate and raw he is.

Finally, you’ve done a lot of filming in the UK. What do you like to get up to here?

One of my favourite things is the Haunted Pub Crawl. There’s this guy, Ian, he knows everything about London’s haunted history and created his own little path from pub to pub. You walk along, learn about all the crazy haunted stories and you stop at a pub, have a pint and move on. It’s incredible, man.

Need For Speed is at cinemas nationwide from 14 March

(Image: All Star)

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