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Q&A: Aaron Paul (Jesse Pinkman) — Part I

Actor Aaron Paul ponders the magic of Hollywood makeup and talks about his wardrobe in the first of AMC’s exclusive two-part interview.

Q: How do you see your character?

A: Jesse Pinkman is a funny kid. He’s just this lost soul — I don’t think he’s a bad kid, he just got mixed in the wrong crowd. He has decided to do something he knows, and he’s been cooking meth for some time now, so it’s taken over his world a little bit. And it’s interesting because when you meet Jesse’s parents, you can tell they’re an upper-middle-class, very proper family. He doesn’t come from an abusive, alcoholic background. But maybe he just didn’t relate to his father, maybe his father was too strict and too proper for Jesse. And then he runs into Mr. White from his high school, and their relationship is more like The Odd Couple .

Q: I notice when you refer to Bryan Cranston’s character, you call him Mr. White.

A: Right. I guess my character still respects him, especially now because Mr. White is showing Jesse he is truly an artist. But then again, he only knew him through school, so now that’s how I know him, which is fabulous. Bryan Cranston is a genius, so I have respect for Bryan, and Jesse has respect for Mr. White.

Q: Between the housewife next door in the first episode and the motel prostitute later on, Jesse has some varied taste in women.

A: You know, Jesse just likes the variety of women. He takes love with open arms. He’s like, ‘Yes, just give it to me!’ There’s no judgment — Jesse has no judgment. Actually the woman that played the crack whore is beautiful, they just made her look wrecked. Those are not her real teeth. It is amazing what they can do with makeup, and we have a great team. I get kicked in the face in the pilot, and for the first two episodes that eyepiece was just like this horrific two hours of makeup. If my call time was at, let’s say 5 a.m., I would have to be there two hours early to put that thing on. I couldn’t see, my equilibrium was all messed up, and they were giving me those pills for motion sickness.

Q: You were taking Dramamine?

A: Yeah well actually during the pilot, it was this silicone-based eyepiece, much heavier, and my eye was completely swollen shut. And so just walking around with one eye was really interesting. We would have 12 hour days, and it was pretty obnoxious. I felt like a little baby. I’m thinking to myself, ‘Oh, I wanna act strong! I’m a strong man I can do this!’ Then I’m saying, ‘Um, can I have some more Dramamine please?’ as I’m falling over. Please Vince, don’t kick me in the face in future episodes — I don’t think I can handle the eye makeup again!

Q: There’s this iconic image of Bryan Cranston in his tightie-whities. But I have to say, they look more comfortable for New Mexico’s climate than all the layers you have to wear.

A: Uh, you have no idea buddy. It is so hot. I’m a small guy, and it looks like I’m a much bigger person because of these layers. People meet me, and they’re like, ‘You’re…wow…I always pictured you to be so much bigger.’ No actually, I just have fifty layers on in the Albuquerque heat. Bryan is lucky. I think that’s why he agreed to do it: ‘Yes I will just wear my underwear, it’s fine. Write more scenes with me just in my underwear, please.’ My wardrobe is hilarious. It totally fits Jesse to a T, but it’s not like I’m going to be begging for these clothes when we’re done shooting. I might try and snag the sneakers though.

Q: How do you like Albuquerque otherwise?

A: I actually hated it during the pilot. I loved working, obviously. But I would just go to work, and then go back to the hotel and I couldn’t find much to do. But when we started shooting the series I fell in love with the city. I’m from Boise, Idaho, and it reminds me of a bigger version of that place. Dean Norris actually ended up moving out there. It’s just nice to get away from the hustle of Los Angeles, and the skies are endless out there. It’s like a beautiful painting every day.

Log onto the Breaking Bad blog tomorrow to catch the second part of AMC’s exclusive two-part interview, in which Aaron Paul dishes on a backstage poker game that ended in disaster.

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