‘El Camino’: Aaron Paul on His ‘Easy’ Return to ‘Breaking Bad’s Jesse Pinkman

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie

Whatever happened to Jesse Pinkman? We’ve been asking that question since Breaking Bad‘s 2013 series finale, when drug kingpin Walter White (Bryan Cranston) took his last breath.

While White perished, his onetime partner in crime, Jesse (Aaron Paul), escaped imprisonment from the white supremacists forcing him to cook meth. In the AMC show’s final moments, he was seen fleeing in an El Camino.

Picking up where the show left off, El Camino, written and directed by Bad creator Vince Gilligan, continues Jesse’s journey and, yes, familiar faces appear along the way. Here, the three-time Emmy winner tells us what he can about the highly anticipated (and heavily guarded) follow-up to one of the greatest shows of all time.

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The series creator is answering one of the biggest questions since the 2013 finale.

What was your first question when Vince initially approached you about doing this movie?

Aaron Paul: When can I read it? [Laughs] I say, “What do you want to do?” And his response was, “Look, I don’t want to put the cart before the horse, but I have an arc in mind.” I think he had maybe written 14 pages or something. He had the arc in mind and he started hammering out the first tenth of it, but he wanted to see where I was at with it. I mean, it’s been years since I’ve played this guy and he wanted to make sure that I was on board. But I know he knew I was going to be on board. He’s known since the beginning of Breaking Bad that I would follow him anywhere. I mean, he gave me a career! He really spiced everybody’s career in that show but he said, “Look, I don’t want to get you too excited. Obviously this would be a dream to kind of collaborate again, but I only want to do it if it’s perfect and there’s no reason for me to do anything otherwise.”

Was Jesse still pretty accessible for you as an actor, or was it a challenge to find him again?

To be honest, not at all. It was incredibly easy for me to zip on this skin [again]. But when people see this film, there are a lot of things revealed to the audience about what went down when Jesse was held captive. I had come up with my own theories of what went down when we were shooting that show but it was apparent with the scars all over his face, the scars on his body, things that he’s gone through onscreen that we’re all very much aware of. There was a lot of torture involved and so he’s an even more damaged version of what we once knew him as.

(Credit: Netflix)

There are flashbacks in the film. What was important to you about those?

Just give you a deeper look at what this guy has gone through and that is the main purpose of these moments. You think you have an idea, but then you quickly realize, ‘oh damn, I really had no idea.’ It’s just so heartbreaking.

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The stars were all smiles on the red carpet and during the after party.

How was it to shoot some of those scenes? Because, you’re right, they were heartbreaking.

I don’t want to tip the hat too much but there’s a lot of scenes that we had to shoot that were incredibly hard for me as the actor to perform, and it was really hard for the crew members to watch. Yeah, there are some scenes that just straight up were not fun for me. I’m not saying all of the emotional stuff was not fun. A lot of it’s actually really nice to just get it out there, put out in the open and allow this guy to feel these emotions. It’s good to have emotions. It’s healthy. It’s good to just release and let things out.

Did you have any concern about messing with such a perfect series end?

My only response to that is, look, you trusted Vince for five seasons of the show. Are you going to still continue to trust him?

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, Premieres Friday, October 11, Netflix