‘Breaking Bad’: Jesse Pinkman’s Look Wasn’t Quite Right and It Still Bothers Vince Gilligan

Bringing accuracy to a TV show seldom happens, sometimes due to budget restraints or lack of research. Breaking Bad was a rare exception in putting in more details than it arguably needed to have. Not that a few details were completely on the nose.

Since this was a show about meth production and addiction, showrunner Vince Gilligan wanted the actors to reflect the physical changes these people go through. Anyone knowing how meth affects the body will know that one of the first signs is losing one’s teeth, among other body decay.

One thing Gilligan wanted on Breaking Bad was more accuracy in this department with the character of Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul). Ultimately, Paul valued his teeth a little too much.

Was lack of body decay in Jesse Pinkman a major mistake?

Aaron Paul
Aaron Paul | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/Getty Images

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Any before and after photos of meth addicts show a dramatic change from how they start out and then look after taking meth. Most of these people look like they aged 20 or 30 years.

With Pinkman always getting beat up on Breaking Bad and then smoking meth recurrently, Gilligan wanted to make Pinkman look more the part. According to Gilligan in an interview with Digital Spy for the show’s 20th anniversary in 2018, he deeply regrets how perfect Aaron Paul’s teeth were.

According to Gilligan: “Little details like that. If I stopped to think about it, I would change them. I would say to myself, ‘I wish we’d gotten that right'”.

With so many other details done right in Breaking Bad, it might seem overly obsessive to complain about a lack of accuracy on this front. Then again, Paul did attempt to make it look more real just through acting essence.

Aaron Paul spent time with real meth addicts when researching

No one should pin any blame on Paul for not wanting to have his teeth altered. After all, the show could have used CGI to make his teeth look bad, if also expensive to do that in every episode.

Paul still managed to put everything he had into the role. He said in a Reddit AMA interview back in 2013 he spent time with current and former meth addicts. He realized how much it overtakes people and turns them into polar opposites of what they once were.

Said Paul: “I wanted to try and bring as much honesty to this character as I could, and I saw a darker side to people that I’ve never witnessed before. Meth is a terrible drug, as you know, and has the ability to grab ahold of you tightly”.

In that same interview, he noted some fans thought he really was a meth addict, something he is vehemently against. Nevertheless, one might say he studied those addicts so well, he provided a mirror for them on Breaking Bad.

Other things about meth on the show were very accurate

Most Breaking Bad fans know the Drug Enforcement Agency worked as consultants with Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul to teach them how to make real meth. Both of the actors came away with exacting knowledge of the drug, something likely giving unknowing audiences a chill.

Not that the actors would ever give it away to others, or make it themselves in real life. At least they really did place themselves into the middle of meth production to understand its darkness through and through.

While that issue with Aaron Paul’s teeth might still bother Vince Gilligan, most fans are well aware he brought the most in-depth portrait of a meth dealer/addict ever seen on TV. No wonder so many people watch the series over and over to marvel at how many details were placed in there when other TV usually cuts corners.