Nearly six years ago, viewers of Breaking Bad watched the final episode of that series, in which the drug kingpin Walter White (played by Bryan Cranston) emerged from hiding and sacrificed his life to rescue his one-time business partner, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), from an Aryan Brotherhood gang. When White expired in a meth lab and the credits rolled, audiences believed it might be the last time they would see many of these characters.
But it turns out the story of Breaking Bad isn’t quite finished.
Netflix announced on 24 August that it would release a Breaking Bad movie centering on Pinkman, the excitable meth cook played by Paul, who was last seen in the TV series speeding off in a stolen Chevrolet El Camino to parts unknown.
The film, El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, was written and directed by Vince Gilligan, the creator of Breaking Bad, and will be released on Netflix on 11 October. The film is also expected to be broadcast later on AMC, the cable network where the TV series was originally shown from 2008 to 2013.
“It’s a chapter of Breaking Bad that I didn’t realise that I wanted,” Paul said in an interview. “And now that I have it, I’m so happy that it’s there.”
Netflix provided only the briefest plot summary of El Camino, which states, “In the wake of his dramatic escape from captivity, Jesse must come to terms with his past in order to forge some kind of future.”
Paul said in the interview that he was forbidden from revealing anything more about what happens in the film. But, like the show’s fans, he said he also believed he had said goodbye to the world of Breaking Bad when the TV series concluded.
“It was a hard, emotional thing for all of us,” Paul said. “And when the finale happened, we all got together and hugged it out and said I love you. And that was it.”
In his final screen appearance as Pinkman, Paul said, “I loved the way Jesse was flying through the exterior gates of the Nazi compound. He’s screaming, he’s crying. He’s got these emotions going through his body. And then it just cuts away from him.”
But Paul said that about two years ago, he received a phone call from Gilligan, ostensibly to talk about plans to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the debut of Breaking Bad.
“At the very end of the conversation,” Paul said, “he mentioned that he had an idea of where to take it from here, and he wanted to hear my thoughts on it. I quickly told Vince that I would follow him into a fire.”
Paul said he could understand if audiences were wary to revisit the conclusion of Breaking Bad, whose last episode remains one of the few highly regarded finales of the modern TV era. (A spinoff series, Better Call Saul, starring Bob Odenkirk, has stuck to the origin story of the Saul Goodman character, before Walter White crossed his path.)
But Paul said any potential misgivings were quickly dispelled when he finished reading Gilligan’s script for El Camino.
“I couldn’t speak for a good 30, 60 seconds,” he said. “I was just lost in my thoughts. As the guy who played the guy, I was so happy that Vince wanted to take me on this journey.”
As with Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, production for El Camino took place in and around Albuquerque, New Mexico. Last year, publications like the Albuquerque Journal got wind of a movie being filmed under the code name “Greenbrier” and quickly deduced that it was connected to Breaking Bad.
But Paul said that by the time the news media became aware of the project, “The movie had already happened and was in the can. It was done.”
If anyone asked him what he was up to during this time, Paul explained, “I just said I was doing this small little indie out in New Mexico and that was it. No one second-guessed it.”
He added, “I definitely had people asking, ‘Are you doing Better Call Saul?’ And I’d go, ‘Hey, man, I wish I was. But they’re on hiatus right now.’”
While it might be reasonable to wonder if El Camino will reunite him with other notable Breaking Bad alumni like Cranston, Odenkirk, Krysten Ritter or Jonathan Banks, Paul said he once again had to remain silent on this subject.
“All I can say, I think people will be really happy with what they see,” he explained.
Paul is holding onto a lot of professional secrets these days: He will also be appearing in the coming third season of the HBO science-fiction series Westworld in a role he said he could not yet disclose.
Asked if he had ever had to keep quiet about so many things simultaneously in his career, Paul said, “Not at all. But I like it, man.” © 2019 The New York Times