Recently I was especially thrilled to spend some time in a Los Angeles hotel suite with Aaron Paul, an actor whose place in television history is already assured thanks to his iconic performance as the tormented meth-cook Jesse Pinkman in Breaking Bad.
Despite a flourishing movie career – you can next see him on the big screen in the Helen Mirren drone thriller Eye In The Sky – Paul has been lured back to television by the new Lightbox drama The Path, which is about the followers of a small religious movement known as Meyerism.
Disarmingly relaxed and collegial, the qualities that endeared Pinkman to the world are not hard to discern in Paul. That said, the temptation to view him as a real-life version of Jesse is ultimately curbed by the actor’s clear thoughtfulness and intelligence. And a lack of any utterances of the ‘B’ word.
Similarly, at first glance, it’s not all that difficult to see Eddie, Paul’s character on The Path, as an alternative evolution of Jesse Pinkman. Eddie is a loving husband and father who left his troubled past behind by embracing Meyerism, where he met his wife Sarah, played by Michelle Monaghan.
After returning from a religious retreat in Peru, Eddie is now beginning to have serious doubts about his faith.
Your character here is carrying a lot of weight on his shoulders, which seems to be a theme with you.
I think that’s the one similarity between Eddie and the character I played on Breaking Bad. They are both just going through quite a bit. I just like playing gritty characters. There’s nothing really black and white, there’s just so many different layers there. Through the series, more and more layers are revealed.
Are you able to leave your character’s heaviness on set or does it go home with you?
You gotta leave it on set for sure. I used to take it home with me, but I feel like I have a very happy beautiful life. I’m madly in love with my wife, I have a great family, so maybe that’s why I like playing these characters because they’re such polar opposites of who I really am.
Have you ever met anyone in a cult?
Who hasn’t? The people in this movement, they don’t consider themselves in a cult. No one in cults consider themselves in a cult – that’s just an outsider’s perspective of their belief. All religions started somewhere, started with an idea, and it just snowballed into something much bigger.
I think at the birth of all religions people looked at them with a judgmental eye and then they turned into certain big religions. If you read the bible, there are seven-headed dragons. It’s crazy, but there’s only specific things that people decide they want to talk about – they don’t talk about the seven-headed dragons. They don’t talk about killing someone because they drink alcohol. So yeah, I think we all know people in cults.
In researching this role, did you watch the Scientology documentary Going Clear?
Yes. Fascinating. I have some friends that are in that particular movement, and they don’t want to be. But they decide to just go along with the motions because they don’t want to lose their family. I have a couple of friends that were born into Scientology, and they do their weekly processing, and their family has no idea that they do not buy it all. But they know if they say anything, they’ll never be able to talk to their family again.
Do you watch Better Call Saul?
I love Better Call Saul, I think you can be a huge fan of Better Call Saul without even watching an episode of Breaking Bad. I mean, I highly recommend people watching Breaking Bad before jumping into Better Call Saul – just because I think it’s a deeper look.
What about Breaking Bad? Do you ever check that out these days?
To be honest, not really. When I’m flipping through channels and they’re doing a marathon or something, I might sit and watch an episode. I’m very fond of that show for many reasons. My wife and I keep talking about how we should re-watch the show, because I haven’t seen it since it aired. I actually watched the pilot a few months back but I think I’m gonna re-watch the whole thing. Eventually.
Head along to the chapel and click below to watch The Path, with weekly episodes arriving express from the US