Aaron Paul: “Breaking Bad’s” Jesse Pinkman’s Career Is Breaking Good

Aaron-PaulAaron Paul, whose name at birth was Aaron Paul Sturtevant, is the 31-year-old Emmy-nominated co-star of Breaking Bad. The Emmett, Idaho native, who graduated from Centennial High School in Boise, Idaho, set off for Los Angeles, California with $3,000 in his pocket and—after 8 months—landed his first paying gig: a Kellogg’s Corn Pops cereal commercial.

Since then, Aaron Paul’s career has taken a less wholesome trajectory, as far as the role he is best known for,  that of the tweaker and heroin addict Jesse Pinkman on “Breaking Bad.”

Paul has said that he owes series writer Vince Gilligan his career, as Gilligan remembered him from a role on “The X-Files” where he played a character known as Sky Commander Winky, which had been Gilligan’s college nickname.  When Paul auditioned for “Breaking Bad” and blew his lines, Gilligan remembered him from “The X-Files.” He cast him for one season’s work on “Breaking Bad” as Jesse Pinkman. Jesse (Aaron) was to have been killed off at the end of season one.

Says Gilligan of the decision to retain Paul beyond season one, “I didn’t realize the depth, humor and pathos Aaron could bring.  He was so excellent.  I told Aaron I wasn’t going to kill Jesse, but I couldn’t promise I wasn’t going to torture him.”  Jesse’s tortures, so far, have increased viewership by +17%, to about 1.3 million viewers per episode, and his stint as the clean-cut Scott on “Big Love” didn’t hurt, either.
Long before Aaron was Jesse or Scott he was appearing in independent films and a variety of TV series, such as “The Guardian,” “CSI,” “CSI: Miami,” “E.R.”, “Bones”, and a music video for the band “Korn” that accompanied the song “Thoughtless,” a video which was directed by the Hughes brothers.

Appearing on Carson Daily’s late night show on Monday night, May 16th, Paul told the host, “The Hughes Brothers directed it (the Korn video) and I just jumped onboard with it and it was fun.”  He added, “It’s just a dream to work in this business.”

The two were meeting at Citizen Smith’s Bar and Restaurant.  To questions from Daly about whether he minds being associated with his work in National Lampoon’s Van Wilder, Paul replied, “I always get people accosting me for Van Wilder.” Said Carson, “That must drive you nuts.” Paul responded good-humoredly, “No, it’s fine.”

The gifted Paul seems genuinely grateful to be on “Breaking Bad,” saying, “When I first read the script, I thought to myself, I mean, it’s brilliant, but there’s no way this is going to make it on the air.  There’s no way they’re going to pick this up.  I applaud AMC for having the balls to do it.  I found myself laughing at scenes where Jesse is trying to melt a body with acid, but it’s pretty dark stuff.”

Asked Carson, “What did you know about tweakers and meth/amphetamine addicts before the show?” Paul replied, “It never really got a hold of me, but I definitely saw how it affected people. It is a dark side world.”

Paul’s co-star, Bryan Cranston, who plays Walter White, the meth chemist and was previously best known for playing the father in “Malcolm in the Middle,” said, “Aaron’s capacity to convey someone who is daring and vulnerable, to bring likeability to an unsympathetic character is astonishing.”

Carson Daly asked Paul about shooting in Albuquerque, mentioning that he(Daly) had motorcycled through there while traveling Route 66 and that he “did not have a great time.” Said Paul, “It’s nice to get out of L.A., but there’s really not much to do.  They just like that it’s being shot in their city. Some people like it. Some people hate it.”

Paul continued, “I owe Vince (Gilligan) for my career,” and reminisced about his job as an usher when he first hit L.A., saying, “It was the first and only time I saw Steven Spielberg in person.”  The overnight success that Aaron Paul is now enjoying (a film, Wreckage, is due out in 2010) was really 13 years in the making.

Gilligan told “T.V. Guide,” “Aaron’s a star in the making.  He has great charisma, wonderful range.  He’s the whole package.  But he’s also one of the sweetest guys around.”

Paul—who has been linked to actress Jessica Lowndes—said, “I love the story (of “Breaking Bad”), the nice layers—the role is just incredible.” Check it out on AMC; it’s one of the best series now on television.

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