Aaron Paul's career is breaking just right

From Boise to the Emmys to movies, the ‘Breaking Bad’ star is on a roll.

doland@idahostatesman.comSeptember 22, 2013 

  • See Paul at the Emmys

    The 65th Primetime Emmy Awards will air at 6 p.m. today on CBS.

For the fourth time, Aaron Paul is nominated for an Emmy for his supporting role as Jesse Pinkman on the groundbreaking AMC series. He won in 2010 and 2012 and is considered a front-runner again this year by several industry publications — and, of course, by his hometown fans.

“We love Aaron Paul,” the crowd outside the Egyptian Theatre shouted last Sunday, before a screening of the “Breaking Bad” episode “Ozymandias.” An impromptu survey revealed that most Boise fans expect Jesse to survive the series finale, which will air Sept. 29.

Paul organized the live-streaming event and was in attendance. He packed the place with friends, family, members of the Boise arts community who helped give him his start, and fans who called PEAK radio stations or followed his Twitter-driven scavenger hunt for tickets through Downtown.

One of Idaho’s biggest homegrown stars, Paul said he came to “hang out with the community” and his three best friends, who flew in to be part of a mini-documentary filmed at the Egyptian for Bushmills Irish Whiskey. (Paul is a spokesman for the brand, which picked up the tab for the event.)

Paul’s star also is on the rise in Hollywood, as his six-year stint on what’s become a history-making television show winds down.

The final season of “Breaking Bad” has been an emotional ride for Paul. Showing the third-to-last episode in Boise was a great way to celebrate leaving “the role of a lifetime,” he told the Statesman.

“When the world was introduced to him, we saw him as this kind of lost, bumbling idiot, a druggie burnout loser, which technically he is,” Paul said. “But we dove deeper into that and saw the layers beneath. ... You saw that he was a human. I love him so much and I miss him every day.”

IDAHO ROOTS

Paul was red-eyed and exhausted in Boise on Sept. 15, after wrapping up filming in Texas on Kat Candler’s indie movie “Hellion” the night before. But he hit the ground running in Boise, photographing and videoing himself on at least 100 people’s cellphones. He held babies and greeted fans as if he wanted to run for public office.

And he probably could win.

Paul’s connection to his hometown runs deep. Born in Emmett as Aaron Paul Sturtevant, he grew up in Boise and graduated a year early from Centennial High to follow the advice of drama teacher Nancy Link and follow his dream to become an actor.

“I come back here as often as I can. And I love that the city is still a secret,” Paul said of Boise.

Paul found steady work in his early acting career, but getting cast in “Breaking Bad” was his breakthrough. His character was originally supposed to die at the end of the first season, but his chemistry was so good with star Bryan Cranston, who plays teacher-turned-meth maker Walter White, that series creator Vince Gilligan decided to save him.

“Breaking Bad” is nominated for 13 Emmys, including Outstanding Drama Series and acting nominations for Paul, Cranston, Anna Gunn and Jonathan Banks.

Whether Paul wins tonight or not, his career is set to take off.

After several small independent films in the past few years that showcased his diversity — “Smashed” and “Decoding Annie Parker” among them — Paul has two films coming out in 2014 that show he’s a bankable star.

BIG-SCREEN BREAKOUT

“A Long Way Down,” based on Nick Hornby’s novel, stars Paul, Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette and Rosamund Pike as four people whose lives change on a London rooftop on New Year’s Eve.

In “Need For Speed,” Paul plays lead character Tobey Marshall, a street racer who was framed for a crime by a wealthy business associate. Once he’s out of prison, the character joins a cross-country race to seek revenge. It comes out in March.

In the coming months, Paul will begin filming Ridley Scott’s biblical epic “Exodus,” with Christian Bale as Moses. Paul will play Joshua, the Hebrew slave who became Moses’ right-hand man and who eventually led the Israelites to the promised land after Moses’ death.

“That’s quite different than Jesse,” he said. “Ben Kingsley plays my father. It’s crazy.”

Dana Oland: 377-6442, Twitter: @IDS_DanaOland

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