The closest you can get to the seedy life of drug culture without losing your sense of dignity is by being a musician, at least that way you can tell yourself you’re doing it for your ‘art’. So when actor Aaron Paul got his break playing crystal meth dealer Jesse Pinkman in the smash-hit TV series Breaking Bad, it is no surprise that he became instantly recognisable by countless musicians.
“Oh man, I gotta be honest, it just felt like Breaking Bad was on everyone’s tour bus. So it really felt like it was a big thing in the music industry,” Paul told NME. He also talked about a crazy encounter he had with the Rolling Stones, explaining: “The most surreal thing was I got invited to a Rolling Stones concert out of nowhere as their guest. Ronnie Wood wanted to meet up with me so I went backstage and met him in his dressing room, and he introduced me to Keith Richards – Keith was shirtless, smoking a joint and exactly as you’d imagine him. It felt like such a rock star moment. But it happened because they were massive fans of Breaking Bad – that’s crazy.”
Since the success of Breaking Bad, Paul has had a hell of a time trying to shake the identity of Jesse Pinkman. As newer generations become acquainted with the show, it is not hard to imagine Breaking Bad going down as a classic. Paul already gets stopped everywhere he goes as his face has become one of the most recognisable ones of pop culture.
“There’s a lot of people who are just going to see me as [Jesse] Pinkman forever – so I think my job is to try and do things that are different, challenging and excite me, and then – you just never know how people are going to react,” he said.
One of his newest projects is a role in the dystopian sci-fi Westworld. Iggy Pop hilariously joked on a talk show, that “if I saw Aaron in the mid-west, I’d think I could score off of that guy.” It is one of the great curses of acting; if you find success with a character, it is hard to shake off that identity.
Prior to Breaking Bad and the music biopic craze that happened in the last two years, Paul played Weird Al Yankovic in the 2010 fictional biographical film Weird: The Al Yankovic Story. It seemed like a natural fit for Paul who is a massive music fan. “I thought it was genius,” Paul told NME, and adding: “That he had this tortured love affair with Madonna – classic! You know, Al’s such a beautiful man – I’ve been a fan of his stuff for my whole life.”
While acting has always been his first love, music is another one of Paul’s passions. He is a musician, but a hobby is as far as it will go for the young actor. “I’ve never wanted to do an album,” Paul said to NME. “Have I dreamed of doing one? Of course. Everyone has that rock star dream. But trust me, no-one wants to listen to that!”
He has, however, sought to direct his dreams of being a rockstar to the silver screen, naturally. “When I first moved to LA, I thought quite a bit about Kurt Cobain and what happened and I just love Nirvana – ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ was one of the first records I bought with my own money, so I’ve thought that could be interesting [to play Cobain],” he added to his interview.
Aaron Paul could probably pull off a pretty good Kurt Cobain. Perhaps if we’re lucky, we will see this become a reality one day.