- Bryan Cranston pranked “Breaking Bad” costar Aaron Paul into thinking his character, Jesse Pinkman, was being killed off the Emmy-winning AMC show.
- Series creator Vince Gilligan actually considered axing Jesse during season one, amid a writers’ strike, but decided against it.
- That didn’t stop Cranston from letting Paul think that each time he got a script, his character would be getting killed off.
- “He would say, ‘Hey, did you read the next script?’ And I go, ‘Nah, did you get it?’ And he’s like, ‘Oh.’ And he would just give me this big hug,” Paul recalled during an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
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Cranston and Paul starred as Walter White and Jesse Pinkman, respectively, on the Emmy-winning AMC series that aired from 2008 to 2013. The writers’ strike of 2007 to 2008 caused showrunner Vince Gillian to consider killing off Paul’s character during the show’s first season.
“I was sad,” Paul said during an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “I was honestly, utterly devastated.”
“I thought I was signing onto a full series,” he added.
Jesse ended up surviving the entire show’s run, but throughout “the next season, season and a half,” Cranston would mess with Paul and lead him to think that Jesse was getting axed.
“Anytime I picked up a script, [I thought], ‘This is the time,” Paul said. “[Cranston] didn’t help the situation, that b——! He would say, ‘Hey, did you read the next script?’ And I go, ‘Nah, did you get it?’ And he’s like, ‘Oh.’ And he would just give me this big hug.”
Paul went on to say that Cranston would continue lying, saying: “Hey man, it had to end sometime, but at least you go out guns blazing,’ or something like that.”
Cranston would also tell his costar, “Just read it and call me, if you want to talk.'”
“And then he would walk off and I would turn and go straight into [the] production office and go, ‘Give me that d— script!'” Paul recalled.
Paul added that the writers would tell him the scripts weren’t ready, which led him to think that they were “holding it because they know this is where I die.”
Gilligan has previously talked about how the writers’ strike caused him to consider killing off Jesse during episode nine of season one.
“I didn’t know how d– good [Paul] was when I hired him,” Gilligan said during a panel for PaleyFest LA in 2010.
He added: “The writers’ strike, in a sense, didn’t save him, because I knew by episode two, we all did, all of us, our wonderful directors and our wonderful producers, everybody knew just how good [Paul] is, and a pleasure to work with, and it became pretty clear early on that that would be a huge, colossal mistake to kill off Jesse.”
The writer and director also said that they “never actually nailed it down,” but the idea was for Jesse to be a casualty “in some drug deal gone terribly awry.”
“It was just going to be a way to make Walt feel really, really bad,” Gilligan said.
Paul went on to win two Emmys for his role and will reprise the part for an upcoming “Breaking Bad” film sequel called “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie.” It will be available to stream on Netflix on Friday, October 11.
Watch the video below (Paul talks about Cranston pranking him at 1:50).
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