Aaron Paul as Tobey Marshall in

“Need for Speed”

March 14, 2014

For most people—or at least the more than 10 million people who call themselves fans of AMC’s late, great drama “Breaking Bad”—the name Aaron Paul is synonymous with Jesse Pinkman. Jesse is the character Paul played on the critically acclaimed series, for which he won numerous awards, including Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series in 2010 and 2012.

In many ways, Jesse Pinkman was Costume Designer Ellen Mirojnick’s greatest challenge in designing for DreamWorks Pictures’ “Need for Speed.” The film, which marks Paul’s first shot in the driver’s seat as a leading man, is an adaptation of the “Need for Speed” video game series by Electronic Arts.

In the film, Paul plays Tobey Marshall, a mechanic and racer who is framed for manslaughter by Dino Brewster (played by Dominic Cooper), a wealthy and arrogant ex-NASCAR driver and former business associate. After serving his time, Marshall sets out on a high-speed, cross-country mission to get his revenge.

“The biggest challenge was to take Aaron Paul as he was coming out of ‘Breaking Bad’ and turn him into a character who could resemble Steve McQueen in a car chase film of the 60s or 70s,” says Mirojnick.

During the early phases of the process, Mirojnick pulled together images of iconic, race car driving leading men including McQueen (who served as the anchor of inspiration for Paul and Mirojnick), James Dean and Paul Newman. “The character transition Aaron faced while still shooting Breaking Bad was not an easy one to accomplish, so the imagery was really important,” she says.

According to Mirojnick, the challenge was met by Paul’s commitment, and together the team designed his wardrobe to be “as strong and as simple as possible.”

“We had to find the quintessential race jacket that he could wear across 24 hours of storytelling from coast to coast. [Director Scott Waugh] was very vocal from the beginning about wanting a deep navy blue, aged and worn leather jacket—something that could have been [Marshall’s] father’s jacket, from the Marshall Motors shop he inherited from his father.”

Mirojnick says it was serendipitous that shortly after being tasked with the mission to find the perfect navy jacket, she stumbled across “the one,” an already somewhat aged, navy Emporio Armani.

“We sent it to Aaron in Arizona while he was filming and when we got the pictures, it was just a perfect. All we had to do was age it a bit more, soften it and add a ‘Marshall Motors’ patch on the shoulder.”

Finding special and iconic jackets for leading men is always a challenge, according to the designer. “I have found that simple is always best. Some color works well and the shoulder and collar are both very important.”

Once they found the jacket, the rest of Paul’s ensemble was finished with a plain white T-shirt, jeans and sunglasses.

“Aaron’s blue eyes add a whole lot of wattage,” she says. “Frame his face and you get a leading man.”

“Need for Speed” premieres in theaters nationwide today.

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