EVEN when I pitched this show to people, they’d go, ‘ What’s your show about?’ And I’d go, ‘ Oh, it’s about this over-qualified high school chemistry teacher who finds out he’s dying of lung cancer and to support his family when he’s dead he decides to start cooking and selling crystal meth with one of his students, who I play’. And people are looking at me with just this like, you know, blank expression, saying, ‘ Wait, that’s so depressing, that doesn’t sound good at all’,’’ Aaron Paul says.
‘‘ And I go, ‘ Trust me, give it a shot, watch the pilot and I guarantee you will become addicted and very fascinated with the story’.
‘‘ And that’s exactly what has happened. The audience keeps growing each year, the stories just keep getting better and better. Which just blows me away.’’
And everyone else. Breaking Bad has won major awards, including Emmys for Paul and Bryan Cranston, who has three for playing Walter White, the teacher.
But merely talking about Breaking Bad can in no way prepare the viewer for its force, and the jolt of what appears, superficially, to be a series about a family man in the permacool suburbs of Albuquerque’s desert.
‘‘ People can relate,’’ Paul says. ‘‘ If not to Walter White, to someone in this show. We’re talking about him being an overqualified chemistry teacher. We’ve all had dreams, whether we try to fulfil those dreams is up to us. He decided not to. And then all of a sudden a spark was lit underneath his a--- and . . . for the first time in his life he feels alive.’’
Nobody could describe Paul’s Jesse Pinkman as over-qualified.
‘‘ At first glance you see this dumb-a--kid, he’s a drug addict, he’s a drug dealer. Like, we’re not on his side, really,’’ Paul says.
‘‘ But as episodes went on you see he’s not 100 per cent a bad kid. Obviously he’s made some bad choices . . . but he does have a good heart, a kind heart, and more of that is revealed as the seasons have gone on.’’
As season four winds down on Foxtel and Austar (and season three on ABC2) Paul is bracing for the end.
‘‘ Yeah, we got officially picked up for one more. It’s going to be our final season, we’re not going to do 13 (episodes), we’re going to do 16. It’s going to be very sad to say goodbye to this show.’’
Has it occurred to Paul it’s possible he may never work on anything as good as Breaking Bad again?
‘‘ I’ve already accepted I know that,’’ he says. ‘‘ Dean Norris (DEA agent and White’s brother-in-law Hank Schrader) told me, ‘ You know, 10 years from now we’re going to think back on our time on Breaking Bad and go, I used to be on Breaking Bad and now I’m doing this s---’. It’s very true.’’ Breaking Bad, season four finale, Showcase, Sunday 8.30pm