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August 29, 2014

Aaron Paul Talks 'Breaking Bad' Concussions and 'The Price Is Right' Prizes

by Kim Potts, posted Mar 26th 2010 4:00PM
He's the husband of the polygamist's daughter on 'Big Love' and he's spent two seasons getting physically and emotionally battered about on 'Breaking Bad,' but as the AMC drama's third season continues (Sun., 10PM ET), 'Bad' Emmy nominee Aaron Paul may finally be growing a tougher shell.

Paul plays 'Breaking Bad's' Jesse, a middling pot dealer who gets swept up in the dark, dangerous (and sometimes darkly funny) world of major drug dealing when his cancer-stricken former high school chemistry teacher -- Bryan Cranston's Walt White -- pulls him into a plot to cook and sell major batches of drugs and secure his family's future.

Paul lost out on the Emmy (to Michael Emerson, a star of one of his favorite shows), but, after getting a peek at the second episode of season 3, we feel safe in predicting another nomination for him next year. The actor talked to AOL TV about the big, bold changes ahead for Jesse in season three, about the 'Breaking Bad' scene that left him with a concussion and about how he was thisclose to glory on 'The Price Is Right.'He's the husband of the polygamist's daughter on 'Big Love' and he's spent two seasons getting physically and emotionally battered about on 'Breaking Bad,' but as the AMC drama's third season continues (Sun., 10PM ET), 'Bad' Emmy nominee Aaron Paul may finally be growing a tougher shell.

Paul plays 'Breaking Bad's' Jesse, a middling pot dealer who gets swept up in the dark, dangerous (and sometimes darkly funny) world of major drug dealing when his cancer-stricken former high school chemistry teacher -- Bryan Cranston's Walt White -- pulls him into a plot to cook and sell major batches of drugs and secure his family's future.

Paul lost out on the Emmy (to Michael Emerson, a star of one of his favorite shows), but, after getting a peek at the second episode of season 3, we feel safe in predicting another nomination for him next year. The actor talked to AOL TV about the big, bold changes ahead for Jesse in season three, about the 'Breaking Bad' scene that left him with a concussion and about how he was thisclose to glory on 'The Price Is Right.'

I just watched the second episode of season 3 ... wow! Is it fair to call this the season of consequences on 'Breaking Bad'?
Yeah, absolutely. The season of consequences, and the season of change, really, for all the characters involved. They're kind of going through their own issues and changing in lots of ways, but yeah, it's definitely a season of consequences.

There's a scene at the very end of the season premiere where Jesse tells Walt this surprising, very dark conclusion he's reached about himself. It's pretty heartbreaking ... how did you feel when you read it?
I'm right there with you. When I read that, I was like, "Oh no, that's devastating." But, through Jesse's eyes, at the end of last season, his girlfriend dies, and he blames himself. In his mind, it's 100 percent his fault that she died. And then, because of her death, her father caused the two planes to collide, so now he's blaming himself for that as well. So we last Jesse in rehab, and that's pretty much where the season starts, with him still there. He really has nowhere else to go. He believes he deserves to be there. Now, he's going to try to give a valiant effort to try and stay on the clean and sober path, really, for Jane. He's longing for her, and he's really sad. And he's learned some things in rehab ... it's all about self-acceptance.

In the second episode, we see Jesse make a bold move, involving his family, and we're not really sure at first what his motivation is ... is he doing something for them, or taking something back?
That's what I love with Jesse this season. He's definitely taking back what he rightfully deserves. I don't want to give anything away ... but when I read that, I literally applauded. "Way. To. Go. Jesse!" I was so excited. I thought that was gonna be such a fun scene to do. Everyone's kind of given up on Jesse, and he has, really, nowhere to go.

So he comes to this sad conclusion, but, as you just described, it also seems to have helped him find this inner strength he didn't really know he had had.
Yeah, exactly. He really has nothing else to lose. I think, at the beginning, when he's going to talk to his family (in the second episode), and his father kind of gives him the cold shoulder, he realizes, "Hey, I'm trying and trying, but obviously, (the father) is not giving anything back." And that's when he does what he does, and I think it's fantastic.

Jesse and Walt's relationship has been very complicated, and there's definitely been a big father-son element to it. But in a lot of ways, Walt has also taken advantage of Jesse. Walt was in dire circumstances with his health, but still, he had been Jesse's teacher, and he's older and more experienced, and kind of has a responsibility to him. Do you think Jesse will ever confront him about that?
Right. Absolutely. And I think, before Walt came into Jesse's life again, Jesse was very happy just dime-bagging it, having a comfortable life. But then, pretty much once Jesse was blackmailed into working with Walt, Jesse's life turned upside down. They're in way, way over their heads, and Walt was greedy, and he was greedy because he had to greedy. He was on a very short timeline ... Jesse, in the long run, is playing with fire, I guess ... it's the whole more money, more problems situation. But yes, Walt has caused a lot of heartache for Jesse. A lot more than Jesse even knows. So, who knows ... Jesse kind of confronted Walt, a little bit, last season, attacking him in the RV after falling in the Port-a-Potty, letting him know, "Listen, we do things my way this time, or I walk." So, when I read that as well, I applauded.

Jesse gets knocked around so much, physically and emotionally ... can you point to one scene or one storyline that's been the toughest to film?
In season 2, the second episode, 'Grilled,' where Tuco kidnaps Walt and Jesse and takes them to the desert and that's where we meet Uncle Tio? That episode was brutal. There was just a lot of physical things we were doing, and Raymond Cruz (who played Tuco), during one of the takes, threw me out of the door ... I was supposed to fly out the door, slide down this ramp and land on my stomach, but during the eighth or ninth take, he threw me out and my head got caught in between the screen of the wooden frame of the door and it snapped, and I split the door into a bunch of pieces. I flipped around and landed flat on my stomach, and the scene continued to go on, so he picked me up on his shoulder and threw me against the wall, but I was completely unconscious. I got a little concussion. Went to the hospital in an ambulance ... spent about six hours in the ER. So, in terms of physicality, that was a pretty brutal, brutal day. Vince Gilligan and the rest of the writing staff really love to beat Jesse up. (Laughing) And I don't know if it's me they like to beat up, if it's something personal, or they just like seeing the character in agony.

But it's good, because the audience is always sort of rooting for, pulling for, this kid. He's just really trying to find his way. And he's doing what he knows best, and he thinks it's okay. But, you know, I think the first time (he) really sees how it effects these people, like in 'Peekabo' (the sixth episode in season two), when you meet that little boy and his parents, who are using drugs, you kind of see the softer side of Jesse. Like 'Oh my God, what I'm doing is causing this.'

The scene in the season 2 finale where you're trying frantically to revive Jane ... that had to be a difficult one, too. It also seemed all but certain to earn you an Emmy nomination. A belated congratulations on getting one! Did it come as a surprise?
Oh my, God, absolutely! So unbelievably surprised. The day that I'm not surprised is the day that I need to check myself at the door, and check my ego. But yes, of course it came as a surprise. I mean, I'm working with such really great material, and it really all starts on the page. And then working opposite Bryan Cranston! I've learned so much from that man, and if it wasn't for Bryan, and the writing of this show, I don't think I would have been nominated whatsoever.

And you're right, that episode was incredible. I was very emotionally drained. In terms of hard things to do, that's definitely much harder than the whole physical aspect of acting. Most of the time, it's actually a stunt double. But in terms of being emotionally beat down, that episode was definitely it.

You've also been playing Scott on 'Big Love,' which is a less intense -- thankfully, probably -- role. Did the two jobs ever overlap?
Yeah, actually, last season, we started the exact same day. And 'Breaking Bad' shoots in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and 'Big Love' shoots in Valencia, just outside of Los Angeles, so 'Big Love' and 'Breaking Bad' kind of worked out the scheduling. ['Big Love' producers] would have liked me to come out a little more, but we just couldn't work it out, schedule-wise. So Scott -- once they got married -- he just kind of disappeared. He was just like the absent husband. But I love that show. I was a part of that show before 'Breaking Bad' and I love everyone involved with the show.

Do you think Scott might pop up again?
Who knows? They said they would definitely love to have us back. This was Amanda Seyfried's last contracted season with the show. But she said she would absolutely love to come back if her schedule allows it .. so, hopefully.

You've starred on two great shows, on two of the best cable networks ... are you a TV fan yourself?
I'm a huge TV buff. I haven't watched live TV in a long time ... except for the new season of 'Lost.' I definitely watch it on Tuesday. Usually, I let it record for five or 10 minutes so I can fast forward through the commercials. So, 'Lost' and 'Dexter' ... those are my shows.

OK, time to fact check a couple of things on your IMDB.com entry: Is it true that you appeared on both 'Trading Spaces' and 'The Price Is Right'?
(Laughing) Wow, I never heard the 'Trading Spaces' one. That's not true. That's hilarious. But I was on an episode of 'The Price Is Right.'

How far did you make it on 'The Price Is Right'?
Oh, I made it to the Showcase Showdown. Yeah, I was pretty proud of myself, but I made it to Showcase Showdown, and I was going against a woman who was in the Marines, and I bid $132 over. So I lost, and she went over as well, so neither of us won anything.

But you were so close! You almost won both showcases!
I know! I was bidding on a whole Apple computer set-up, $1000 in cash and a brand new Camaro. And I bid $26,500, and it was like $26,368 ... it's so funny that I remember that.

Are you haunted by that number now?
(Laughing) I think I might be a little haunted by it. I was truly devastated by it. But my buddy Braeden stayed for the next show, and he ended up winning the Showcase Showdown. He won trips to Fiji, London and New Orleans, and he took me to New Orleans with him, so that was good.

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