VMAN26

ARTICLE FREDDIE CAMPION

PHOTOGRAPHY DANIEL RIERA

STYLIST TOM VAN DORPE

CREDITS ARTICLE CONTENTS

SCHOOL DAZE

POWERHOUSE: FASHION SCHOOL

ART OF DARKNESS

EXTRA CREDITS

HAIR ROB TALTY (THE MAGNET AGENCY)  GROOMING MARIA MARTINEZ FOR M.A.C COSMETICS (KASTEEL + AGENT)  DIGITAL TECHNICIAN JOHN DICKEY  STYLIST ASSISTANT ERIN SULLIVAN  PHOTO EQUIPMENT SMASHBOX, LOS ANGELES  PRODUCER AZZURRO MALIN  RETOUCHING LA CAPSULA FOTOGRÁFICA BCN  CATERING LOVE CATERING, LOS ANGELES  SPECIAL THANKS BOXEIGHT STUDIOS, LOS ANGELES

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THE SWEDISH THING: LYKKE LI RICCARDO TISCI ON ERYKAH BADU: “WE BELONG TO EACH OTHER” THE VIDEO: I\'M OUT THE VIDEO: THE SOFT MOON

ART OF DARKNESS

PHOTOGRAPHY DANIEL RIERA
FASHION TOM VAN DORPE
TEXT FREDDIE CAMPION

BREAKING BAD’S AARON PAUL IS NO STRANGER TO BRUTALITY AND MORBIDITY, THE MACABRE AND THE HORRIFIC…EXCEPT IN REAL LIFE

Every March for the last four years, actor Aaron Paul has packed up his car, said goodbye to his home in Los Angeles, and embarked on an 800-mile drive across the Arizona desert to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the set of Breaking Bad—the AMC drama about a methamphetamine- cooking high-school chemistry teacher (Bryan Cranston), and his burnout, base-head ex-student and partner in crime, Jesse Pinkman (played by Paul).

“It takes about 12 hours,” he says, just a few days before he sets off again—this time to film the fifth season of the show, which premieres in July. “Really the reason I do it is so I can have a car while I’m there.”

His next drive, however, will have special significance, since it will be Paul’s last. After five seasons and a half dozen Emmys (including one for Paul himself, in 2010, for Outstanding Supporting Actor), the show—which has been called one of the greatest TV dramas of all time—will be ending in the fall.

“It’s pretty sad this day has come,” says Paul, even though he can only guess how it all will end, not yet having seen any scripts. “They keep us all in the dark,” he explains. “Either way I know it’s going to be heavy, violent, and intense, and probably much darker.”

To anyone who knows Breaking Bad and its notoriously twisted, high-stakes plotlines, the idea that it could get much darker is pretty hard to believe. But while the world of Jesse Pinkman is one of money laundering, overdoses, and underworld hit squads, in real life the 32-year-old Paul is the antithesis of Pinkman: in January he proposed to his long-term girlfriend, an anti-bullying campaigner, and he laughs at the idea of anyone thinking he and Jesse have anything in common.

The son of a Southern Baptist minister, Paul grew up the youngest of five in the “very white,” as he describes it, city of Boise, Idaho, a childhood he says entailed all the quaintness of The Wonder Years. “I had my first girlfriend when I was in eighth grade, and I kind of saw us being like Kevin Arnold and Winnie Cooper,” he says. “I would do things like climb on top of her roof and knock on her window.” It worked, he adds, “until she cheated on me with my best friend—but you know how it goes.”

He attributes his knack for acting to taking part in small plays at his dad’s church and a high school drama teacher named Mrs. Link, the first person to encourage him to pursue it professionally. “She pushed and pushed me to move to L.A., even when I was a freshman,” he remembers.

After finishing his senior year in one semester and graduating from high school early, he took her advice. “I packed up my ’82 Toyota Corolla with a bunch of stuff and drove down to North Hollywood, where I got a studio apartment,” he says. Despite the initial culture shock (he was, after all, only 17), Paul was lucky enough to sign with an agent after a couple of months and soon was playing bit parts in films and on TV. (You might remember him as an inebriated frat boy in Van Wilder or as part of a group of teens performing Jackass-style stunts in an episode of The X-Files.) It was nearly 10 years, though, before Breaking Bad came along and he got what he now can see was his big break.

“Every time I see Vince [Gilligan, the show’s creator], I have to give him a hug and thank him,” Paul reveals. “I don’t think the network and studio were 100 percent sold on me, but Vince said I was his guy, and he fought tooth and nail.”

It's hard to believe now that anyone else could have played the role of Jesse. Having started the show as a hapless meth addict (with a wardrobe of questionable beanies and oversized Ecko Unltd hoodies), he’s morphed into the sullen antihero of the series. And now Paul is making the same kind of brooding and tortured leading roles his trademark. His next film, Smashed, which won a Special Jury Prize at Sundance in January, is about a young married couple’s battle with alcoholism. And he’s just completedDecoding Annie Parker, about a woman who watches her sister and mother die of breast cancer, and later is diagnosed with the disease herself.

“I like the heavy stuff,” he concedes. “I’m happy in my life, so it’s fun to step outside my element. It’s like driving past a car wreck. You don’t want to look, but you can’t help yourself. That’s how I take on my roles.”

EXTRA CREDITS

HAIR ROB TALTY (THE MAGNET AGENCY)  GROOMING MARIA MARTINEZ FOR M.A.C COSMETICS (KASTEEL + AGENT)  DIGITAL TECHNICIAN JOHN DICKEY  STYLIST ASSISTANT ERIN SULLIVAN  PHOTO EQUIPMENT SMASHBOX, LOS ANGELES  PRODUCER AZZURRO MALIN  RETOUCHING LA CAPSULA FOTOGRÁFICA BCN  CATERING LOVE CATERING, LOS ANGELES  SPECIAL THANKS BOXEIGHT STUDIOS, LOS ANGELES

MORE TO LOVE

THE SWEDISH THING: LYKKE LI RICCARDO TISCI ON ERYKAH BADU: “WE BELONG TO EACH OTHER” THE VIDEO: I\'M OUT THE VIDEO: THE SOFT MOON
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