Breaking Bad is often hailed as one of the greatest television series ever produced, if not the absolute best. This gripping show chronicles the transformation of Walter White, a former teacher turned drug manufacturer portrayed by Bryan Cranston, who employs his chemistry expertise to produce methamphetamine. Spanning five seasons, Breaking Bad achieved an impressive feat with 16 Emmy Award victories.
Trying to fund his cancer treatment and provide security for his family before he passes away, Walter White or Heisenberg, as he soon became known, was the show’s driving force. Heisenberg Halloween costumes became commonplace, and praise for Cranston’s performance as the complex protagonist was rife. But his partner-in-crime, Jesse Pinkman, played by Aaron Paul, had a story just as nuanced and intricate as his ex-high school teacher.
Paul’s performance as Pinkman elevated the character from a dealer to one of the most sympathetic characters on the show, although there’s little competition in that regard. Often feeling the wrath of White’s superiority complex, plagued by tragedy and addiction, and eventually regretful for his actions, Jesse was both a beneficiary and a victim of Walter White’s unrelenting quest to build a drug empire.
Paul’s complex character portrayal earned him three Emmys for ‘Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series’ – the first actor to do so. Paul, alongside Cranston, appeared in every episode of the show, totalling 62 appearances, but the actor ranked one above the rest.
Speaking with The Independent about his time on the critically acclaimed show, Paul named his favourite episode as ‘Four Days Out’, the ninth episode of Breaking Bad’s second season, which aired in 2009. Fans of the show will remember the plot, which follows Jesse and Walt into the desert for a four-day meth-cooking marathon. Things go awry, however, when Jesse’s actions leave their RV battery drained, stranding them in the desert.
Paul shared his experience of the episode and his love for “just acting with Bryan – it felt like a two-man play.” It certainly feels that way to an audience, too, allowing both lead actors to show off the nuance of their characters.
Paul’s favourite scene in the show, however, comes from a different episode – ‘Buyout’, the sixth episode of the show’s fifth season. He explains, “I think my favourite scene was the dinner scene between Walt, Skyler (Anna Gunn) and Jesse. That was so much fun to shoot, and every time when they yelled ‘Cut’, all three of us would just start laughing, because it was so uncomfortable.”
He continued to share the tiny moments that made the scene special, noting, “Skyler pouring nearly a bottle of wine into her glass and asking if Walt had told her about their affair. Jesse using his water glass almost like a security blanket, hiding behind it. Oh, there are so many.”
Both episodes allowed the on-set chemistry between Paul and Cranston to flourish, an essential part of Breaking Bad’s success. When the two real-life friends were allowed the space to bounce off each other on screen, it provided some of the show’s finest and most entertaining moments, all of which contributed to its status as one of the greatest television shows of all time.