Plemons goes back to being a ‘Bad’ guy

- Patrick Ryan

NEW YORK – Most “Breaking Bad” fans would agree: Todd Alquist (Jesse Plemons) is basically the worst. ❚ The mild-mannered pest exterminat­or turned murderous psychopath caused a world of hurt forJesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) in the hit AMC series: holding him captive at a neo-Nazi compound to cook meth and killing an innocent woman as punishment when Jesse tried to escape. Jesse eventually avenged their killings by strangling Todd to death in the fifth and final season of “Bad,” which ended in 2013, but the oddly likable villain returns in extensive flashbacks in Netflix’s “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie,” now streaming. Still holding him prisoner, Todd brings Jesse to his kitschy, pastel-colored apartment to help dispose of a body, which they later drive out to the desert to bury.

Blissfully singing along to ’70s yacht rock and idly suggesting they hang out with beer and pepperoni pizza, Todd strikes up a twisted sort of friendship with Jesse, who runs from his past and tries to start anew in “El Camino.”

Plemons, who also stars in Martin Scorsese’s gangster epic “The Irishman” (in theaters Friday in New York and Los Angeles; streaming on Netflix Nov. 27), talks to USA TODAY about both projects, and whether he’ll work with fiancee and “Fargo” co-star Kirsten Dunst again.

Question: Reading the script for the first time, were you surprised to see what a big part Todd played in the story?

Jesse Plemons: I was. I thought it was likely a scene or two at most, so I was very surprised that a third of the movie is sort of the darkest buddy comedy ever. That was the thing I enjoyed most about it: A lot of the Todd you saw in the show was him deferring to Walt (Bryan Cranston) or Uncle Jack (Michael Bowen), but (in the film) he was king of the castle for a day. Everyone was gone, and it was just him and his pal Jesse. Sure, they had to complete this unfortunat­e task, but it was a very pleasant, happy day for Todd.

Q: Despite all the pain Todd caused Jesse in “Breaking Bad,” did you find any redeeming qualities for him in the movie?

Plemons: I don’t think it gave him any redemption, because you still know what he’s done and that his terrible treatment of Jesse doesn’t end here – it just continues. But I’m always into details about my characters, and I didn’t know I was wanting for informatio­n about his taste in music, furniture and interior design. Those elements really filled in some blanks I didn’t know I was missing. They got my mind reeling about Todd all over again.

Q: What was your favorite thing in his apartment?

Plemons: The snow globes. There were so many that weren’t even featured that were just so bizarre. There’s one with me and Lydia (Laura Fraser), and she’s riding a ladybug? It’s really crazy. There’s also a crazy scorpion chair that I feel is one of Todd’s prized possession­s.

Q: In “The Irishman,” you play Chuckie O’Brien, a young protege of corrupt Teamsters Union president Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino). What was it like getting to work with him and Robert De Niro?

Plemons: To hear Pacino be like “My boy!” is something I’ll never forget. And to witness the classic De Niro face up close, it’s really hard to put into words. For me, it’s kind of the ultimate. It was incredible to just sit back and watch and listen and learn.

Q: One of the funniest scenes in “Irishman” is a long car ride you share with the two of them, as they drive to a hit job and nag Chuckie for putting a fish in the back seat. What do you remember about shooting that?

Plemons: It was interestin­g to be a part of such a significan­t scene in the movie as a character who’s just totally aloof to everything that’s happening around him, and is having his own day that has to do with hauling this fish around. Chuckie’s (between) a rock and a hard place: All he wants to do is say, “Shut up, what does it matter?” but he’s in a car with a bunch of assassins.

Q: Congratula­tions on becoming a dad last year (to 17-month-old son Ennis with your fiancee, Kirsten Dunst). How’re things going?

Plemons: It’s been incredible. He exceeded any expectatio­ns I had for what our child might be. He’s just the funniest person I know and sweet, and also has a little twinkle of mischief in his eye.

Q: People on Twitter really loved your speech for Kirsten at her Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony in August. Were you nervous?

Plemons: I was really nervous until we got there, and then (the experience) is almost so surreal that something counteract­s your nerves. And it’s pretty easy for me to talk about her. It was just strange, because it felt like such a personal accomplish­ment for her and the people (who) love her, but in the back of your mind you know everyone is going to see this.

Q: You and Kirsten played husband and wife in Season 2 of FX’s “Fargo.” Would you like to work together again?

Plemons: I don’t think I can say anything yet, but we might be soon. It’s just a scheduling thing, but I’d love to.

Q: You were also hilarious last year in “Game Night” (playing the painfully awkward next-door neighbor of Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams). Would you like to do more comedies?

Plemons: Yes. That was so much fun, just to play a character who’s so unaware of how he comes off. He’s one of the sweeter characters I’ve played, but he just has a resting creep face. He can’t help it! He’s just the loneliest guy in the world.

 ?? ROBERT DEUTSCH/USA TODAY ?? Jesse Plemons (aka Todd from “Breaking Bad”) talks about “El Camino” and “The Irishman” on Oct. 24.
ROBERT DEUTSCH/USA TODAY Jesse Plemons (aka Todd from “Breaking Bad”) talks about “El Camino” and “The Irishman” on Oct. 24.
 ?? BEN ROTHSTEIN/NETFLIX ?? Todd (Plemons) returns in “El Camino.”
BEN ROTHSTEIN/NETFLIX Todd (Plemons) returns in “El Camino.”

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