‘Breaking Bad’: No One Wanted Aaron Paul To Play Jesse Pinkman at First (Besides One Person)

Aaron Paul was practically born to play Jesse Pinkman. He is a necessary ingredient in Breaking Bad, adding a mixture of humor and heart to the often catastrophic storylines. Despite showrunners initially planning to kill Jesse off at the end of season 1, the actor had such excellent chemistry (pun intended) with Bryan Cranston that they knew they had to keep his character on the show. Yet, believe it or not, no one wanted Paul for the role of Jesse. That is, except for one person, who could sense his potential. Keep reading to find out more.

Breaking Bad
Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston | Michael Tran/FilmMagic

Aaron Paul was at a low point before getting the part of Jesse Pinkman

Getting a lead role in a series as excellent as Breaking Bad is a dream come true for any actor. Yet before Paul got his dream role, he was at a low point in his life. In an interview with Sam Jones via The Off Camera Show, the actor gives details about how difficult things were before getting the part. Although the series was Paul’s first big break, he had been frantically looking for work in Hollywood for a decade beforehand. He admits that he had no idea where his next check would come from and that he was “desperate” for the role of Jesse Pinkman. Not only did he want the role, but he needed it if he was going to make ends meet. 

Paul confesses to Jones that he graduated high school early to pursue acting. While everyone at school tried to talk him out of it, saying he needed a plan B, Paul was adamant about sticking to his dreams. Luckily, he has amazing parents who were willing to let him follow his acting ambitions. While he has found plenty of success, it was a decade long struggle to achieve that stardom. His Breaking Bad audition didn’t make matters any easier.

Aaron Paul kept screwing up his ‘Breaking Bad’ audition

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When you want something so badly, it’s easy to mess up while trying to get it. Because the stakes are set so high, it makes it easier to slip and fall. This was the case for Paul, who admits to having a hard time during his Breaking Bad audition. The actor tells Jones that he kept messing up, stumbling on lines, and forgetting what to say. Because of his slip-ups, none of the other show-runners wanted Paul for the role of Jesse. There was only one person who could see the actor’s potential. Who was it? Turns out, the person who could see the actor as being ideal for the role, was series creator, Vince Gilligan. Obviously, he made the right choice because Paul nails his role.

The ‘Bojack Horseman’ actor used a method acting approach for seasons 1 and 2

Paul became so dedicated to Jesse Pinkman, that he decided to continue to play his character long after filming had ended. The actor would wear his character’s clothes (obligatory beanie included) and act as though Pinkman would. He’d end up doing things his character would do in order to get to the same “emotional headspace.” Paul admits to staying up till 4 a.m. in the shadiest parts of Albuquerque while bumming cigarettes off “crack heads” in order to fully get into the role. It wasn’t until Cranston convinced him that it was okay to be himself at the end of the day that Paul was able to hang up his “Jesse” costume once filming had ended.