LOS ANGELES: For actor Aaron Paul, life after Breaking Bad has brought him more of the dark, broken characters that he became known for playing, most notably as the meth-dealing Jesse Pinkman on the gritty AMC drug drama.
Paul, 34, won two Emmy awards for playing drug-addled teen Jesse, a role that earned him a cult fan base.
In Hellion, Paul plays Hollis, an alcoholic single father who struggles to connect with his two young sons, causing his eldest, 13-year-old Jacob, to rebel while his youngest is taken away by child welfare services.
The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and will be out in U.S. theaters on Friday.
Paul spoke to Reuters about playing a father, working with children and directing.
Q: Hollis feels like a step away from your role as Jesse Pinkman on "Breaking Bad" - what drew you to him?
A: I was just instantly connected to the story and these characters and especially connected to Hollis. I loved Hollis, and his pain was living, breathing on every single level and he's not realizing that he's doing something very wrong. He's kind of abandoned his boys, that's why Jacob is rebelling. He lost his mother but he kind of lost his father as well. Both the kids are in desperate need of some sort of guidance.
Q: You work extensively in the film with the two young actors that play your sons: Josh Wiggins and Deke Garner. How did you develop your relationship with them?
A: The main thing Kat (Candler, the director) wanted us to do before we started shooting is just get some quality face time and just do what fathers and sons do. I also told Kat I don't want to get an incredible relationship before we start because Hollis is kind of absent in a way. He's not really there. So I'd take them to the arcade and bowling to just kind of get to know them. On set, we were shooting this movie for no money so we had no trailers to go back to in between takes. We'd all just hang out inside the house over the majority of the film. All the stuff between me and the boys took place inside those walls, so we were just there all day long spending some time. I just love those kids.
Q: After hanging up your meth goggles as Jesse, what characters are you finding yourself drawn to?
A: I'm definitely open for everything but I tend to find myself gravitating towards the more affected side of things, characters that are affected, that's kind of like how life is.
I just like feeling those emotions because in my day-to-day life I feel very fortunate, very lucky and generally pretty happy, so I like diving into the heavier side of things when it comes to work.
Q: It's been nearly a year since we said goodbye to Walter White and Jesse Pinkman, but they still crop up in pop culture. How have you responded to that?
A: It's so crazy to me. I would have never dreamt anything like this. I've been wanting to be an actor ever since I could remember, and when I first started acting and I was doing random little small odd jobs like a co-star with a couple of lines, or a guest star with a couple of scenes, back then when no one knew who I was I truly felt like I was living out my dream. I was doing what I loved, and that was great. But now it's just such a different thing.
Q: Do you have any aspirations to step behind the camera?
A: Yes, one day for sure. They kept teasing me about wondering when I would direct an episode of Breaking Bad, and I wish I would have jumped at that opportunity, but you know, it deserves someone who really knew what they were doing. But I'm starting to produce, which is very exciting, I love putting things together, it's so much fun.