‘Breaking Bad’: Aaron Paul’s Religious Childhood Was Nothing Like Jesse Pinkman’s

It’s been more than 10 years after the series premiere of Breaking Bad and it’s still one of the most-streamed. This isn’t lost on star Aaron Paul who played Walter White’s (Bryan Cranston) meth-making accomplice Jesse Pinkman. The role came off so effortlessly, you’d never know that Paul’s childhood was a dramatically different scene.

Aaron Paul’s role as Jesse Pinkman on ‘Breaking Bad’ put him on the map

Aaron Paul attends 'El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie' in a blue suit jacket and yellow undershirt.
Aaron Paul attends ‘El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie’ | Borja B. Hojas/Getty Images for Netflix

Outside from a few other projects, Breaking Bad became the breakout role for Paul. The star knew he wanted to hit the big time and began saving money to move to Hollywood at the tender age of 11. According to The Guardian, Paul graduated a year early and made the move at 17. He found “fame” in commercials — around 50.

The jobs weren’t steady, as Paul found. He’d land a recurring guest spot on one series only to go without a job even longer. When he did make bank, Paul said it wasn’t exactly big money.

“They’d squeeze all my scenes into a day, so I was making about $600 an episode,” he said.

After a handful of failed pilots, Paul reached a point where he couldn’t pay his bills. He had to ask his parents for money to get by just as the audition for Breaking Bad came along. Even then, Jesse Pinkman wasn’t meant to last the series but Paul’s chemistry with Cranston led to Jesse’s full-time status.

“When the first three series landed on Netflix, my life changed,” he said, as millions of new viewers caught onto the show. It’s just as popular now as ever.

The premise of Breaking Bad — a cancer-stricken teacher who becomes a meth kingpin — was nothing compared to Paul’s real-life growing up. How did his parents feel when he landed the role?

Paul’s childhood was drastically different than Jesse Pinkman’s

Born Aaron Paul Sturtevant as the youngest of four to a Southern Baptist minister, you can imagine Paul had little in common with his fictional counterpart, Jesse. The love of acting came from acting in church plays before the dream became bigger than that, leading him to Hollywood.

Growing up in a religious home, Paul said, was “very intense,” adding, “my father had me quote scripture. I still have multiple scriptures in my head.”

He said that now, he doesn’t carry any of that with him. So what do his parents think of Breaking Bad and Jesse Pinkman? Paul said they’re fans, but wouldn’t elaborate. He’s now a married father to a child of his own — likely without mirroring the same biblical actions of his parents.

Paul looks back on his ‘Breaking Bad’ time fondly


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In his time since Breaking Bad ended in 2013, Paul has taken on other roles in projects like The Path, but Jesse Pinkman will forever be the one that changed everything.

“It was next to perfect,” Paul said of the series finale. “Brian and I read it together at his place in New Mexico. When he read the screen direction ‘end of series’ we just sat in silence for 30 seconds.”

He continued, adding what the show meant — and still means.

“A lot of people will always see me as Jesse, and I take that as a compliment,” he said. “The show was a game-changer.”

While it’s the end of an era, fret not fans. It’s not the last of Paul and Cranston’s amazing partnership as the two announced the release of their signature mezcal, Dos Hombres, in July, 2019.