Emmy winner talks about what draws him to playing addicts
Aaron Paul is one of the only people who knows how "Breaking Bad" ends, and he loves it.
"It's fanastic," the two-time Emmy winner told TheWrap. "Everyone wants to know, but deep down they don't want to know. I thought the show could go on and on, but after reading the finale eight episodes I'm so happy it ended when it did and isn't stretched out."
The second half of the AMC drama's fifth and final season begins Sunday, ending one of the most agonizing waits in TV history. The show left off with Paul's good-hearted meth-maker, Jesse Pinkman, seemingly at peace with Machiavellian mentor Walter White (Bryan Cranston). But a last-minute discovery threated to expose their secrets.
We talked with Paul about bugs, drugs, and his and Cranston's tearful read-through of the final "Breaking Bad" script.
Tim Molloy: What did you do when you got Vince Gilligan's final script? Do you have a routine?
Aaron Paul: I always take my time with these scripts. Part 1 [of Season 5], I always wanted to be in a very relaxed setting, maybe have a glass of wine and just take my time with it. I wanted to do that with part 2, and I did it with the first episode, and the second one I did that, and then I started getting them in my email and started reading them on my phone. Because I just couldn't wait. The final episode I was staring at it for a good three days and it was just haunting me. I wanted to read it so bad but I didn't and Bryan and I read together at his place for the first time.
We read it out loud. We actually read the teaser [that begins the episode] internally. They're doing a documentary on "Breaking Bad" and they filmed us reading it. After reading the teaser we started talking about what happened in the teaser and then we just said you know what, let's just read it all out loud.
Did you ever do that before?
No. Other than the table reads with everybody. I'm not saying I even made it to the final episode. I just was there playing different characters. I won't tell you who I was playing but I was playing some females, some males.
Good cover. Were there tears?
Yeah. Bryan, when he read the last line of the show – the description and then it says -usually it just says "end of episode." But this said "end of series." He looked up at me… and we just stared at each other for a good solid 10 or 15 episodes maybe. Didn't say a word. Both of our eyes were glossy and tearing up. That was the moment we'd been dreading but yet looking forward to for so long. But Vince and the writers, I think they really nailed it.
Jesse almost died so early in the show. Do you ever imagine an alternate life where that happened?
I try not to. But yeah. It would have been a completely different show. It would have been, I'm sure, just as phenomenal.
Probably not. You've won two Emmys.
Yeah, let's be honest. It wouldn't be that great. It'd be okay.
Will it be hard to find another role this interesting?
It's all downhill from here for me. Which isn't bad, because "Breaking Bad" is so high.
I know you can't let slip anything about what's going to happen, but there's a bug in your 10-second teaser. Bugs tend to mean decay, or on your show, the cook being compromised.
We all know from the last episode of Season 5 part 1 Jesse's not in a very good place. He's terrified now. He's just watched Walt turn into this evil, evil man, going from his old high school chemistry teacher that he kind of thought was just a nerdy old guy. He's turned into this scary, scary man who calls himself Heisenberg. He's terrified.
Is he getting back into drugs?
It's hard to stay sober. But I keep rooting for him. I want to protect him. I think we all want him to come out alive, but I don't know.
You've had two big parts involving addiction – "Breaking Bad" and "Smashed." What's interesting about playing addiction?
It's something that I know nothing about. I think that's why it interests me. After "Breaking Bad" I wanted to stay far, far, far away from any sort of substance abuse. But then I read "Smashed" and it was just such a brutally honest story of a young couple dealing with their own set of problems. I just believed every moment of it. Alcohol is just such a scary thing. Because it's just so accessible, everywhere. And I could personally relate to what these characters were going through. I dated a girl who when we started dating, I didn't know she was a severe alcoholic.
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I did find out that wow, ever since I've been hanging out with this girl, I've been drinking a lot. Didn't even realize. I kind of fell into it, and then I just pulled back and watched her just – it was crazy. … I pulled her out of her burning apartment. It was pretty crazy. I could go on and on and on. I tried to stop drinking for her, I would go to AA meetings with her. She ended up going to rehab a couple times and I just couldn't be a part of it anymore.
That's why I wanted to do "Smashed." Because I understood it. I could relate to it.