There are awkward ways to meet people — and then there is the way J.J. Abrams introduced Aaron Paul to Tom Cruise. On Thursday’s “Late Show,” the “Westworld” and “Breaking Bad” star revealed the horrifyingly embarrassing story to Stephen Colbert, a tale that only came out when the CBS late-night host asked if Paul knows magic.
“No, no, no, no, no. I do not do magic. Well, not really. Actually, funny story, if I may,” Paul said.
Go right ahead.
“One of my first big gigs was on ‘Mission: Impossible III’ and I got to work with Tom Cruise… And I was nervous to work with J.J. Abrams… And my buddy who knows him very well is like, ‘Just bring up magic, J.J. loves magic.’ So I’m like, OK, I’ll bring up magic, I like magic. So I meet J.J. on the set. I go, ‘J.J., nice to meet you. I hear you love magic.’ And he kind of like perked up and he’s like, ‘Oh, you like magic?’ I go, ‘Yeah, who doesn’t? I love magic.’ And he’s like, ‘Have you been to the Magic Castle?’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, yeah.’ He’s like, ‘Are you a member?’ I’m like, ‘No, I’m not that cool.’ But he’s like, ‘Do you know magic?’ And I’m like, ‘Kind of maybe? I know a couple of card tricks that I show my nieces and nephews. Very child tricks.’ So we start talking about something else.”
No, we haven’t gotten to the embarrassing part yet. Wait for it.
“Anyways, cut to a little later in the day, there’s a tonal shift on set and I sense a presence kind of walking towards me, and I look behind me and it’s JJ and Tom Cruise — who I had not met yet,” Paul continued. “And so J.J. brings over Tom, introduces him to me. I’m like, ‘Really nice to meet you, huge fan.’ And right away J.J. goes, ‘Oh yeah, Aaron’s a magician.’ And Tom is like, ‘Oh, you do magic?’ And I’m like, ‘No, no, no, I don’t.’ And then, J.J. had the prop department hand me a deck of cards to show Tom a magic trick. I’m like, ‘No, I really don’t.’ And then, J.J. and everyone, the whole crew of ‘Mission: Impossible III’ is like, ‘Do it! Do it!’ So I tried a trick on Tom. I’m panicked, I’m a little nervous already, and the trick just fails miserably, it doesn’t work. But bless him, Tom, he’s just such a sweetheart, he’s such a positive guy, he starts laughing, ‘Do it again!’ And I’m like, OK, now I’m digging deep. Literally, the only thing I know is a trick for like, a 3 or 4-year-old. So I show him a trick, it works, and Tom just laughs and kind of shakes my shoulders and says good job. It was just unbelievably embarrassing.”
Colbert responded Paul in the only appropriate manner, telling him, “I am in agony from 3,000 miles away hearing you tell this story.”
Check out the video above.