Monday 11 December 2017

Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul and life after Jesse Pinkman

A fully-fledged TV A-lister, emmy winner
 Aaron Paul talks with Stephen Milton

Aaron Paul played Jesse Pinkman in 'Breaking Bad'
Aaron Paul played Jesse Pinkman in 'Breaking Bad'
Bojack Horseman

Stephen Milton

Whether Jesse Pinkman will appear in Breaking Bad spin-off, Better Call Saul is turning into the ultimate guessing game - and Aaron Paul isn't helping matters one bit.

First came rumours he would reprise his career-making role after reports of 'secret talks' with Bad creator, Vince Gilligan. Earlier this spring however, the actor categorically denied any involvement in the new series, which focuses on Breaking Bad lawyer Saul Goodman, majestically played by Bob Odenkirk.

Now, the 34-year-old has doubled back and reaffirmed that, while Pinkman won't pop up in the first season, the following run is indeed possible. INSIDER can't keep up.

"It'd be great to be on [Better Call Saul] but as of right now, I'm not on the show," the star remarks. "But that can all change.

"I did go and visit all the writers a couple of weeks ago and read the teaser for the first episode. And it's fantastic.

"But they never said Jesse wouldn't appear at all. Right now, if he makes an appearance, it's not in the first season but I guess it's possible down the line but who knows? Certainly not me."

Stroking his wispy beard and shifting uncomfortably in his seat, he's emanating mixed messages - pleased with his fuelling announcement, but also sort of agitated. Like he's saying too much?

Paul doubles back. "It's a prequel. Like would it make any sense that Jesse crops up? He would be younger and I can only play so young. Am I really that baby-faced?"

While we're only still in the tail end of Bad withdrawals - the uncontrollable shakes and ferverish sweats replaced by repeated airings of back episodes, optimistically searching for hidden subcontexts, Better Call Saul will be healing therapy for those of us still in pain.

A small school of thought, however, believes it's all simply too soon. Aaron disagrees.

"I guess, strike while the iron's hot. People are invested in these characters and Saul is such an incredible creation.

"But like Bob has said, it's not Breaking Bad 2.0. I love and miss Walt and Jesse but it's probably time to focus on others."

While Pinkman disciples wait anxiously for his return, they can comfort themselves with Jesse's cartoon alter ego in Netflix's biting new animated series, BoJack Horseman.

Paul lends his vocals to Todd, a pot-smoking, lazy slacker and best friend of Horseman (voiced by Will Arnett), a washed-up 90s sitcom star - who just so happens to be of the equine variety. Pretty standard.

"He's half-horse, half-man who's trying to get his career back on track. He's a severe alcoholic, addicted to horse tranquilisers with zero morals whatsoever, and I play his human house guest, who's a total stoner and eats Pop Tarts all day. Never leaves the couch. So yeah, pretty much Jesse in 2D."

Towards the end of May, it was a Bad week for INSIDER. In the very good sense. Just days before my meeting with Paul, I sat in this same ritzy hotel, a floor below, with Bryan Cranston who was promoting Godzilla at the time. Aaron is incredulous at the coincidence.

"Bryan was in London? I would've tried to change round my schedule if I knew."

Do the pair stay in contact much? "We talk regularly. Bryan is one of my favourite people on earth. He's like family to me. So it bums me out knowing he was in the exact same hotel, just a few days ago."

After leaving his hometown of Boise, Idaho, at 17, Paul flitted between bit parts and background work for 10 years before landing Breaking Bad. He did all the glossy greats: innocuous fratboy #2 in Melrose Place; Chad the jock on Beverly Hills 90210; a dying patient on ER. What he perceived his big break, as Amanda Seyfried's hapless beau in Mormon family epic, Big Love, was simply a false starter. The role was subtle and ignored.

Thoughts of quitting Hollywood crossed his mind. Then the audition for swaggering, assured Jesse came. This was it.

And it came at right time. At 34, Aaron considers himself fortunate to have found fame at in his 30s.

"I wouldn't have appreciated it had it happened when I was 20. I saw it happen to so many. They rose so high, and now, most can't get a job."

Smart in a crisp white shirt and a natty pork-pie hat, kicked back on his crown, he's currently riding a crested wave after the box office success of first post Bad, big-screen outing, Need for Speed. A shoot'em up, drive em' fast that was roasted by the critics, the film pulled in over $200million on a $65million budget. Paul's box office pull is undeniable.

Next up is a leading role in forthcoming biblical epic, Exodus, alongside Christian Bale.Understandably, he was concerned to work with the notoriously volatile Dark Knight actor.

"I did think, 'What's he going to be like?' But I think he is very misunderstood and one of the funniest people I've ever met. And so lovely to all the cast and crew."

He clocks INSIDER's sceptical raised brow. Really, I ask. "Really," Paul defends.

Unlike Bale, Aaron has gained a reputation as one of the friendliest in showbiz, even going so far as to join a celebrity coach tour last summer, parked outside his LA home that he shares with wife, actress and charity campaigner, Lauren Parkesian.

Consequently, footage of the incident, recorded by Dubliner family, the McNieves, went viral, and since then, armies have been camped at his door.

"That was a big mistake. I mean, I'll always talk to anyone if anyone wants to talk to me.

"But doing that right outside my house, big mistake. Now, they come in droves to our driveway. So we might have to sell up now as a result. We'll see, maybe we won't."

He ponders his closing line as INSIDER is wrapped up. "Or maybe people will get bored of me. Maybe this could be an indicator that my career is in trouble - if there's no one outside the house, I'm screwed. You know what, ignore everything I just said. Everybody, flock to my home."

BoJack Horseman is ready to stream on Netflix

Irish Independent

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