‘Breaking Bad’: Aaron Paul Reveals If He Would’ve Given Up Acting Had Jesse Pinkman Not Worked Out

by Craig Garrett

Between AMC’s Breaking Bad and HBO’s Westworld, Aaron Paul has had a solid prestige tv run that’s lasted well over a decade. It’s tough to imagine an actor with that kind of prolific success ever considering giving up his career. However, Paul did come close to the edge at one point in his career.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Aaron Paul revealed he had doubts going into Breaking Bad. Paul explained that he was making a living doing commercials and with bit parts. Things were starting to stretch thin financially, though. “Heading out to Albuquerque and starting that journey, I was at the lowest point in my career, with lots of ups and downs prior.”

The actor said he had filmed several pilots that never went to series. He was worried that Breaking Bad might have been another in a line of failures. “I really needed Breaking Bad to be somewhat of a success just so I could survive. I don’t want to seem melodramatic, but that’s really where I was at.”

Aaron Paul would have “kept fighting” to work as an actor

Despite his doubts, Aaron Paul isn’t convinced he would have thrown in the towel. “I don’t know if I would’ve given up acting,” he said. “I think I would’ve kept fighting.” The actor seemed to be content as long as he was making a living. ” I considered that a success as long as I was paying my bills. If I wasn’t able to survive off of it, then what am I even doing?”

Aaron Paul was doing his best not to get his hopes too far up before filming the first episode of Breaking Bad. “[It] was the fifth or sixth pilot that I had done, and none of the pilots prior to Breaking Bad went to series. It’s impossible not to think about your hopes and dreams when you shoot a pilot and what it could be like to have a regular gig in this industry that I’m so madly in love with.” However, the show was picked up by AMC and eventually gained an audience. “And so Breaking Bad just opened up doors for so many people, and that’s all [series creator] Vince Gilligan,” Paul said.

Originally, Aaron Paul’s character, Jesse Pinkman, wasn’t supposed to live past the first season. Jesse was originally slated to be killed by a rival drug dealer, leading Walter White down a path to revenge. Fate would intervene on the behalf of Aaron Paul, though. A writer’s strike cut the first season of Breaking Bad short. The first season went from 9 episodes to 7, sparring Jesse Pinkman. When the writers returned to pen season 2, they decided to keep Pinkman around, changing the course of the show. Of course, it also changed the course of Aaron Paul’s career. He went on to win an Emmy for the role 3 times.