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Aaron Paul on Jesse Pinkman's final moments in 'Breaking Bad'

The Emmy winner promises "a constant, brutal sprint to the finish line."

Aaron Paul plays Jesse Pinkman on "Breaking Bad." Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC Aaron Paul plays Jesse Pinkman on "Breaking Bad."
Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC

Aaron Paul has won two Emmys for his acting chops, so it’s no surprise he was able to fool us into believing that the cast of “Breaking Bad” had filmed 12 different endings for the critically acclaimed series and that he was unsure which would make it to air.

But jokes aside, Paul says he does know how his character, the drug-dealer-with-a-conscience Jesse Pinkman, ends his run in these final eight episodes, and that he’s happy with the trajectory.

“As a whole I’m very pleased,” he tells Metro, saying that it’s hard to discuss his character’s final moments without giving anything away. Also a challenge for the actor: admitting that the series has come to an end.

“I think [I’ve] kinda moved the past the mourning, or maybe not — maybe I’m just in denial,” he says with a laugh. “But this final round of cuts is just another reminder of how lucky we all are. Everyone’s just so excited about the show coming out. I’m really excited for people to see what the writers have come up with. You’re gonna be stoked.”

While he won’t reveal too much about the show’s final season, he does tell fans to expect the same level – if not more — of darkness they’ve grown accustomed to from the show’s previous episodes. And now, with the end approaching, everything’s at a heightened pace.

“I think the very first episode of the final eight, that’s a violent punch to the throat,” Paul says, “and it just never slows down. We all know how the season ended last year, so it pretty much starts right where it left off, and it’s a constant, brutal sprint to the finish line.”

It’s been a whirlwind of a ride for Paul’s character, a complex young man who was always “in search of guidance,” Paul says, with a “soft spot” for children, despite his illegal doings.

“You would like to think that he is the moral compass,” Paul says. "But if you really think about it, he was a drug dealer and he’s a murderer. … You hope that Jesse kinda comes out of this, but you know, who knows?”

And he’s a character who originally was never meant to last beyond the first season of the series, interestingly enough. As Paul has told it, Jesse was supposed to lead Walter White into the drug trade and then get killed. The show, ultimately, would have focused on Walt exacting revenge for Jesse’s death.

It’s hard to imagine “Breaking Bad” without one of its central characters, but Paul is convinced the show would have still been a hit without him.

"It definitely would have been very different without Jesse being in the show, but let’s be honest, it would have been just as brilliant," he says. "I would have been a huge fan. … I would have been proud of those few episodes."

The series might be drawing to a close, but things aren’t going downhill for Paul. He’s basking in the glow of being a newlywed, to anti-bullying activist Lauren Parsekian (“I’m a blessed man — she’s the greatest woman on the planet,” he tells us), and is nominated for another Emmy. This year, he’s up against co-star Jonathan Banks, who plays the unyielding cleanup specialist Mike Ehrmantraut. Paul says he’s wholeheartedly rooting for Banks, whom he says has a sensitive side under that gritty exterior of his.

“To see him standing up on that stage, that right there is a dream of mine,” Paul says. “I was already lucky enough to win two so I’m rooting for him. I love the man so much. He comes off as such a hard-ass, but he truly just wears his heart on his sleeve. He’s just such a softie, he just has a loud bark. I know if his name was called up onstage he would start crying in his chair.”

This, from the man who cleans up the show’s murderous messes?

“Oh yeah,” Paul says. “He calls me sweet pea. He’s like, ‘I love you sweet pea.’ Jonathan Banks, man, I love you too. He and I will be friends till the end of time.”

 
 
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