Aaron Paul is cool with dumb questions. When the actor speaks to us, in honor of his small but key role in the dreamy psychological thriller “The 9th Life of Louis Drax,” the third season of “BoJack Horseman” has just landed. The “Breaking Bad” alum, 37, voices couch-crashing slacker/human Todd Chavez, and he can identify with the season’s first scene, in which alkie-actor-horse BoJack suffers through a junket where journalists ask the exact same question a hundred times — like “What was it like playing x?” That happens to Paul, too, but he handles it with more aplomb. “That’s just how it goes,” he says. “You just find yourself repeating yourself.”
Luckily, it’s hard to ask Paul much about the character he plays in “Louis Drax.” The movie concerns a young, imaginative, accident-prone boy (Aiden Longworth) who falls off a cliff in the opening scene, survives, then tries to unravel how he got there. Paul plays Peter, his adoptive father, who’s mostly seen in flashbacks as either an emotionally abusive husband to Louis’ mother (Sarah Gadon) or a loving, doting dad. You’re not sure which side is correct.
I could pelt you with “BoJack” quotes, but instead I’ll say I always have a hard time selling it to people as a show they should watch, because on one hand it’s a very sad show about depression, but then you want to point out, “No, but it’s also hysterically funny!”
I remember when the first season premiered. I thought the first season was great. But a lot of critics couldn’t get past the first couple episodes. Because it’s an animated show, a satire on Hollywood that revolves around animals and humans coexisting, working together and sleeping with each other, they thought it should be off-the-wall hilarious. But it wasn’t. Once you make it past the fourth or fifth episode do you truly understand the tone. You think, ‘This is not a hilarious comedy. It’s very grounded and very heavy and incredibly emotionally deep.’ Do you have a favorite new episode?
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The abortion episode is delightful.
I love that. I also love the silent episode. They’re about to head back to the writers’ room.
About “Louis Drax," it was written by the actor Max Minghella. Did you know him before?
I’m a huge fan of him as an actor. When I read a script, I like to know nothing about them going in. I’ll just open up a script and start reading. With this, I opened it up on my phone, thinking, ‘I’ll just read the first five pages, to see how the writing is.’ And then I read the whole thing, on my phone. I was like, “Who wrote this?!” And then I saw his name, and was like, ‘That guy can write, too? What an asshole!’ [Laughs] He’s a great actor, a good-looking kid and an incredible writer.
It’s hard to talk about your character, because there are major spoilers, and we only see him in flashbacks. How do you describe him without ruining the movie?
You see him from different perspectives. You see him being this aggressive, frustrated husband [to Natalie]. You also see him as a loving, nurturing, passionate father [to Louis]. You’re not sure which is his true side, or what side you’re going to see next.
You also get to play a father, which you’ve done a few times before.
That was great. I love kids. It was important to me to spend a lot of time with Aiden. It’s great to have kids on set. I love coming-of-age stories, so I love watching movies about kids in that age group — just looking at the world with a different set of eyes. I remember being that age. Films like “The Goonies” or “Stand By Me” were the reason I’m doing what I’m doing. I love seeing things like “Stranger Things” making a huge splash in this industry.
And like “Stand By Me,” this is an R-rated movie, but for kids, which is an interesting genre.
It’s great! They’re not afraid to really go there.
Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge